While many homeowners will soon be heading indoors to enjoy watching football games in the comfort and warmth of their homes, fall and winter are also the perfect times to begin planning for a re-roofing project. Not only is it a chance to enhance your roof’s performance or improve your home’s resale value, but it also is an opportunity to give your home a new look and feel. By beginning the process now, you’ll have plenty of time for planning, hiring a reputable contractor and even creating a whole new style for your home’s exterior.

More than just shingles, a roofing system combines shingles with fasteners, underlayment, flashing and adequate ventilation to provide long-lasting protection and performance. Because it’s a significant home improvement project, the experts at at Owners Corning, a Toledo, Ohio-based building materials manufacturer, recommend that homeowners hire a professional roofing contractor for the job.

By researching contracting companies during the off-season, homeowners will easily be able to coordinate a roofing project for early spring. Consider the following checklist in evaluating a contractor. Does the contractor:

• Provide a written estimate
• Encourage you to call references
• Thoroughly inspect your roof
• Understand and comply with building codes
• Clearly explain the workmanship and manufacturer’s warranty
• Offer additional warranty coverage?

"While a roof is a practical investment, don’t neglect color and style," said Sue Burkett, marketing communications leader, roofing systems, Owens Corning. "Homeowners do this for the inside of the home. Simply extend that thinking to create an entire exterior style that complements your home’s siding, the landscape and even other neighborhood homes."

Although the architectural structure of your home dictates much of what you can do, there are details you can change to give your home a different feel. For example, white siding and black shutters create a traditional look. Natural-looking building materials, such as shake shingles or shingles with shadow lines produce a more rustic feel. A blend of brown shingles mimics the appearance of a wood shake roof.

While you may have successfully lined up a contractor for the spring, conceptualizing, an entire exterior style, whether it’s traditional or Southwestern, often overwhelms homeowners. According to a study conducted by Fitch Inc., a Columbus, Ohio-based design firm and experts in exterior trends, homeowners often consider choosing a roof style or color the biggest challenge. Homeowners may know what they don’t like, but not what they do like according to Fitch.

Applying the same try-before-you-buy-it approach consumers take when purchasing clothes, many roofing manufacturers offer visualization software, such as Owens Corning’s Exterior FX software found on the World Wide Web at www.owenscorning.com/owens/around/roofing/Roofhome.asp. These packages help homeowners envision the difference between three-tab, strip or laminated shingles and how each might complement your home’s siding and structure.