Enjoy a Healthy Home with an Architectural Flair | Roofing Guide
Engineering your roof system for maximum efficiency does more than protect you from the elements. A roof upgrade ensures that your home is healthy – free of mold and other harmful contaminants which can result from excess moisture trapped under an older roof.
ALCO roof installers are experts in the intricacies of roofing systems. We are trained on the latest products and techniques for leak-free roof solutions and are insured for up to $3,000,000. We stand behind our workmanship, taking extra precautions to ensure your roof is designed, installed and maintained for maximum efficiency and effectiveness.
In addition to being the first line of defense against Mother Nature, your roof is your home’s biggest opportunity for energy savings. Approximately 25% of a home’s air loss is through its roof system, which is why proper installation is critical for maximum heat retention, cool air circulation and mold prevention.
Whether you’re looking to make your home healthier or simply more energy efficient, ALCO experts can help achieve outstanding results.
Take advantage of ALCO’s 60 years of expertise. Contact ALCO for your free in-home quote today.
ALCO’s Prescription for a Healthy Roof
- Install ridge vents to help the house breath, eliminate moisture and prevent mold
- Blow in state-of-the-art insulation for maximum heating and cooling efficiency
- Underlayment serves as an additional weather barrier for extra protection
- Prevent attic damming and water damage with proper design and installation techniques
- Eliminate streaking, spotting and discoloring using algae-resistant materials
ALCO roof experts advise on how to enhance your home with skylight placement and explain the science behind a variety of roof designs. We also carry a wide range of shingle colors and styles, providing you with a broad palette of options.
A-frame roofs are built using rafters that look like an uppercase A. These rafters are lined up on top of the walls of the home, and then underlayment is installed over top to complete the roof.
These roofs are popular because the trusses can be designed to leave as much or as little space as necessary. If you have a cape cod home, for example, you can use the space for a second story because the support beam is closer to the peak of the frame than in other home styles.
A-frame homes, popularized in the 1950s, consist of a steeply pitched roof that rests directly on the foundation instead of on top of walls. But other styles of home use the a-frame roof as well, which makes it one of the most versatile roofing styles.
A-frame roofs very easily resist weather as their steep pitch encourages runoff and there are few (if any) vulnerable points where water can collect.
A hip roof, at its simplest, is a roof with four equal sides that all meet at the top to create a ridge. In some instances, there are two sets of two equal sides to create a more trapezoid figure, but if your house is rectangular the roof will be equal on all four sides.
Hip roofs are self-bracing, which means they’re more resistant to wind and are better suited for hurricane regions. However, their strong construction makes them appropriate for Maryland, DC and Virginia weather, too, even if you’re not located in a hurricane region.
The disadvantage of a hip roof is that there is little-to-no attic space because of the gentle slope, and in some cases the slope is too gradual it becomes less wind resistant.
Dutch Gable Roofs
Dutch Gable roofs combine the best of two different roofing types: Gable and Hip roofs.
As we discussed above, Hip Roofs slope on all four sides of your home. These sides are all equal length. But instead of coming together at the top to form a ridge, a Gable is placed at the top of the home.
A gable is a triangular addition to the top of the home, which adds space and architectural interest. As you can see in the photo above, Dutch Gable roofs create the impression of height while adding the opportunity for a loft or grand ceiling.
The appeal of Dutch Gable roofs lie in their combined strengths – hip roofs are incredibly well constructed but don’t shed snow and ice easily and also have reduced attic space. By adding the gable, the roof can now easily shed snow and increase attic space, but also make it easier to attach gutters to remove water.
One of the most famous Mansard Roofs in the world is the roof of Versailles.
As you can see in the image of Versailles, a Mansard Roof starts flat or very gently sloped at the top, and then suddenly changes pitch to be very steep until it meets the top of the exterior walls.
This style of roof immediately adds visual interest and character, but a Mansard Roof is much more than that.
Mansard Roofs allow the homeowner to use as much space in the home as possible for living quarters – allowing an entire floor to be contained within the space at the roofline, or at the very least, a loft or large attic.
The other benefit of Mansard Roofs is that they’re easy to create additions – whether you want to add gables or another wing to your home, you can quickly and easily continue or change the roofline – or even add an attic on top of an existing floor in your home.
The downside of Mansard Roofs is that their gentle or flat slope at the top doesn’t shed snow easily, so in our Maryland, DC and Virginia winters you may find that your roof is laden with snow.
Mansard Roofs also tend to be more costly to renovate – because of their unique nature, they require more embellishments than a more standard roof. But you also have the opportunity to create a show-stopper when you combine unique or luxury materials on your unique roof.
What roofing material will look best on your roof? Need Help?
Or call us at 301-593-1691 for a Free Consultation.
Asphalt Shingle & Modified Bitumen Roofing
Asphalt Roof Shingles are the most common roofing material in the United States, due in part to their inexpensive nature but also to their installation ease.Asphalt shingles were first used in 1901, and by 1939 over 11 million squares of shingles were being produced. Over the next decades, they’ve been tested and improved for wind resistance, impact resistance, fire resistance, and other measures of durability.
Asphalt Shingles come in two styles: Architectural and 3-Tab.
3-Tab Shingles are the most economic option for two reasons: 1, they’re easier to install so labor costs are lowered and 2, the materials are cheaper. They are declining in popularity in favor of the Architectural Style because of Architectural Shingles’ durability and higher visual appeal.
In addition to two design options, Asphalt Shingles are made using two types of materials: Fiberglass and Organic Materials
Organic Shingles use an organic base such as waste paper, wood fiber, or cellulose and saturate it with asphalt to make it waterproof. Then ceramic granules are applied along with a top coat of adhesive asphalt.
The base materials of Organic Shingles make them less fire-resistant than fiberglass shingles, but they’re less brittle in cold temperatures. However, their highest rating for fire is Class B, which makes them less than ideal if fire safety is a concern.
Fiberglass shingles are made by randomly laying wet glass fibers into a mat, and then reinforcing it with urea-formaldehyde resin. This is then coated with asphalt to make it waterproof. Fiberglass shingles obtain a Class A rating for fire, because the fiberglass mat makes them much more fireproof than organic shingles.
In most cases, Fiberglass Asphalt shingles will be what you install on your home. They’ve overtaken organic asphalt shingles in number manufactured, and the International Building Code now requires that all shingles meet a certain adhesion standard for wind resistance.
ALCO works with manufacturers that provide different styles of Asphalt Shingle – from basic to luxury, all of which create a different look for your home.
Want to see if Asphalt Shingles are right for you? Call us at 240-393-4338 or Contact Us to request a Complimentary In-Person Roofing Evaluation!
Traditional asphalt shingles are the most economical option that you can choose for your home… withOUT worrying about sacrificing quality and aesthetic.
With their proven durability (they’re the most-chosen shingle for many new home builders) and long-lasting color technology, Traditional Asphalt Shingles are sure to make your home look refreshed. And they’re great for getting your home ready for resale!
ALCO only carries the top-rated shingles in this and all categories – each shingle we install has passed two of the industry’s highest wind tests (110 mph and 150 mph) in addition to coming with a limited 10-year transferable warranty.
Designer Asphalt Shingles are the most popular type of shingle that Alco installs – and not only are they visually interesting, they’re durable and long-lasting.
With a thicker, dimensional surface, Designer Shingles are able to withstand a higher weight – a feature that helps with the Maryland, DC & Virginia snowy and icy winters.
Designer shingles come with a 50-Year Sure Start Warranty, which means if there’s a failure due to defective materials, you can be assured that parts and labor are fully covered within the protection period.
When you want the top-of-the-line for your home, the ALCO Luxury Shingle Collection is the only choice. Crafted specifically to mimic the expensive look of slate with the durability and ease of maintenance that asphalt provides, Alco Luxury Shingles offer the best in every category.
Covered by the 50-Year Sure Start Warranty AND a Limited Lifetime Warranty, Luxury Shingles create an incredible silhouette for your home that’s unmatched anywhere else.
The Luxury Shingle Collection is the choice for high-end home builders throughout the DC Metro Area
Self-Adhering Modified Bitumen
When you’re replacing the roofing on your home, oftentimes you’re faced with the decision to use the same material on your carports, covered porches, patio awnings, and other gentle-slope roofs as the main roof of your home.
That may not be the best decision, however, simply because a gentle slope requires different materials to ensure weather hardiness. Because the slope is gentle or flat, snow and rain can puddle and gather on your roof, which makes it more vulnerable to water penetration.
The answer is a specialized product, Self-Adhering Modified Bitumen (SAMB), that’s designed specifically for flat and gentle-sloping roofs.
SAMB was originally a commercial application, but as additions like carports, awnings, and covered porches became more popular, a residential product was created.
The Benefit of Using Self-Adhering Modified Bitumen (SAMB)
When you’re replacing your roof, many manufacturers offer SAMB in the same color scheme as the shingles that we’re installing. This means that you can get a coordinating roof designed by the manufacturer to work together to achieve a great look on your home.
What’s more, you’ll also know that the product was designed specifically to keep those areas of your home protected from water. Because water often takes the path of least resistance, it can enter your home very easily once it gets under the shingles of your gentle-slope roof.
How We Install Self-Adhering Modified Bitumen
As with any roofing project, we first install a weather protecting barrier. This covers the underlayment to keep it free from moisture. We install Ice & Water Shield at the edges to prevent Ice Damming (link to ice damming blog post) and then we roll the SAMB material in overlapping rows.
Much like shingles, we start at the roof line and work our way up toward the top of the slope (if there is one) which allows the water to roll down without penetrating at the seam. Where the roof meets the home or steeper roof, we install flashing at the joint to protect it from water penetration.
Unlike other flat and gentle-slope roof solutions, however, we have no need to spread hot asphalt, use messy and fume-ridden glues or adhesives, or do anything differently than we would do if we were laying shingles.
When you want a cohesive system that brings a unified look to your home, choose Self-Adhering Modified Bitumen and let ALCO help you make your home shine.
Do you have a carport or patio that needs a new roof? Call us at 240-393-4338 or Contact Us to request a Complimentary In-Person Roofing Consultation!
Alco Cedar Shake Roofs
What a shake is versus a shingle.
A shingle is what we think of when we think of roofing material – a uniform piece that has been manufactured commercially, and that looks like all the others of its kind. Shingles are identical to one another.
A wood shake has historically been hand-split from a log, and is typically left as split to keep that rough, hand-hewn look. This means that they’re thicker on one end (the butt end) than the other, which makes a wood shake instantly recognizable.
With the advent of commercial technology, wood shakes can be trimmed on the back end (the bottom part that adheres to your roof) to achieve uniformity and increase its weather hardiness.
Why Cedar Shake Is a Good Choice For Your Roof
Now that we know what wood shakes are, why should you use cedar for your roof?
Cedar is naturally rot and insect repellant. If you’re going to use wood for your roof, cedar is the only wood you should be considering. They’re incredibly resistant to strong winds, which makes them ideal for Maryland, DC and Virginia’s unpredictable weather. Cedar shakes have tested to resist winds up to 245mph.
Additionally, cedar shakes add to the energy efficiency of your home. They insulate your roof very well, reducing the amount of heating and cooling that’s lost through your roof and attic.
With proper pre-treatment of the wood, regular care and maintenance, Cedar Shake roofs can last just as long as traditional Asphalt shingles. Cedar is more resistant to algae than asphalt roofs, and it can be cleaned easily with a power washer (although you should have a professional clean your roof so you can be sure it’s done properly.)
Cedar shakes will add value to your home, and in some historic areas or on historic properties, cedar shakes or shingles will be required to maintain your home’s historic appeal.
The Downsides to Cedar Shake Roofs
The regular care of Cedar Shake Roofs can be intense. They need to be kept clean of leaves, branches and debris because the material needs to breathe for its durability. Your gutters must always be clean to improve the ventilation around the roof, and so that no water sits on your roof or backs up.
While Cedar Shake Roofs are more algae resistant than asphalt, they are prone to moss growth if they’re not kept dry (by cleaning off leaves, branches and debris.) If moss begins to grow, it can cause the edges of the shakes to curl and be more vulnerable to storms.
Lastly, wood roofing materials are inherently less fire resistant than asphalt shingles. This can be a concern with your homeowner’s insurance as well as for your family’s security.
Alco Integrity Roof System
Alco is able to install virtually any roofing system, whether you’ve worked with Alco or a different roofing contractor in the past.
The Alco Products Integrity Roof System is designed to keep your home protected and looking great for years to come.
1. Ice and Water Shield Protection
Ice and Water Shield prevents water from wind-driven rain or ice and snow melt from leaking into your home’s interior.
Additionally, the Ice and Water Shield Protection adds an additional layer of moisture control in valleys, at the eaves, and at rake edges – the most susceptible areas of your roof.
PLUS… your Ice and Water Shield is protected under the same warranty that your roof has… up to a THIRTY year maximum!
2. High Performance Underlayment
Underlayment works with the Ice and Water Shield Protection to prevent wind-driven rain, melting snow, or other water sources from entering the interior of your home.
With the High Performance Underlayment, not only will your home be protected from moisture getting in… the underlayment will also allow moisture to escape, meaning that it’s adding a double layer of protection for your home.
3. Starter Shingles
Starter shingles are the first shingles we will install on your roof. They are pre-cut by the factory (which means we won’t be cutting this essential shingle on-site – no human error!) and the adhesive is designed especially to prevent blow-off.
This ensures that the shingles around the vulnerable eaves are perfect, while also allowing our factory-trained installers to move efficiently.
4. Hip and Ridge Caps
Hip and Ridge Caps add dimension and visual interest to your newly installed roof – defining your roof’s line to show depth – while ensuring multi-layer protection.
Alco will already have installed underlayment and Ice and Water Shield – but Hip and Ridge Caps provide external protection at your roof’s natural weak areas.
Whether you have architectural shingles or a strip shingle roof, Hip and Ridge Caps are an essential part of The Alco Products Integrity Roof System.
5. Ridge Vents
The ridge vent is installed at the peak of your roof which allows warm, humid air to escape through your home’s attic.
This helps to:
- Remove Excess Heat and Moisture.
- Prevent Roof Rot in your attic or roof deck.
- Minimize peeling of your interior and exterior paint.
- Limit the growth of mold and mildew.
- Help prevent ice damming (when ice melts at the top of your roof but re-freezes at the edge, causing ice buildup and moisture in your home).
In addition, Ridge Vents may also help reduce your home’s energy consumption and costs – which means it’s a win-win addition to the Alco Integrity Roof System!
6. Lifetime Shingles
Alco’s Lifetime Shingles come in a variety of styles and colors, and during our design consultation we will work with you to ensure that you get exactly what you want for your home.
Depending on your shingle choice, you will receive at least a 10-year warranty – and all of our shingles have passed the 110 and 150 mph wind tests.
The gutters on your home are an essential part of protecting your home from water damage. They’re your first line of defense.
Water is one of nature’s most powerful forces. A slow drip or small stream of water can cause as much damage with slow and steady erosion as a major storm.
Plus, water takes the path of least resistance – when it hits your roof, it rolls downhill toward the edge. Roofs are peaked in order to allow gravity to do its job and keep the water moving downward.
The gutters at the edge of your roof keep the water from dripping down the side of your home, which prevents foundation erosion or water in your basement.
If your gutters aren’t installed properly – if they’re installed at the wrong slope – water won’t be diverted properly. If your gutters are old (dinged, not attached properly and pulling away or dented), the water won’t be diverted properly.
If you’ve noticed that your gutters aren’t holding all the rainwater during a storm, or you have multiple puddles along your roof line – clean your gutters more often!
Clogged gutters mean that your gutters aren’t properly diverting water away from your foundation – and it also means that over time, your gutters will become heavy and pull away from the wall… which means water has a straight path to your foundation.
It’s simple: Clean gutters mean that rain water and melting snow flow in the path that YOU intend.
How to have clean gutters without having to clean 4x a year
The Rain Pro Gutter System allows the highest amount of water flow with a slim-line for the best aesthetics. The unique shape allows the proper size downspout so not only do your gutters move more water, the downspouts can divert that water appropriately too.
Made of ultra-durable aluminum, Rain Pro Gutters are custom fit to your home to ensure that they fit precisely as you need. We install the Rain Pro Gutter System with hidden clips and without disturbing roof shingles that won’t void your roof’s warranty.
The Rain Pro Gutter System also works with the MicroGuard to keep your gutters free of debris. One of the fastest ways to have water damage in your home is to have clogged gutters with heavy snow or rain storms. Water will ALWAYS take the least path of resistance. That’s normally inside your home. Whether it’s down your wall or eroding your foundation or landscape, clogged gutters are the first reason water damage will happen in your home.
Simple to install without disturbing roof shingles, Leaf Relief fits most gutters and is backed by a 25-year “no-clog, no-overflow” warranty.
Uniquely shaped gutters mean that you get more water movement withOUT bulky or oversized gutters changing the look of your home.
The Rain Pro Gutter System allows the highest amount of water flow with a slim-line look for the best aesthetics. The unique shape allows the oversized downspout so not only do your gutters move more water, the downspouts can divert that water appropriately too.
Made of ultra-durable aluminum, Rain Pro Gutters are custom fit to your home to ensure that they fit precisely as you need. We install the Rain Pro Gutter System with hidden clips and without disturbing roof shingles that won’t void your roof’s warranty. The seamless design ensures a perfect fit and the perfect look for the outside of your home.
The Rain Pro Gutter System also works with the MicroGuard to keep your gutters free of debris. One of the fastest ways to have water damage in your home is to have clogged gutters with heavy snow or rain storms.
Water will ALWAYS take the least path of resistance. That’s normally inside your home. Whether it’s down your wall or eroding your foundation or landscape, clogged gutters are the first reason water damage will happen in your home. And when you want to protect your home, you turn to quality materials that are designed to last. Rain Pro comes with a limited lifetime warranty so you’re covered as long as you’re in your home.
Rain Pro’s heavy-duty gutters are 18.5% thicker than standard gutters – meaning that a heavy Mid-Atlantic snow won’t bend your gutters with excess weight. The Rain Pro system is installed with heavy duty internal gutter clips that give your gutter system the maximum strength & durability you need.
If you’re ready to get maximum flow with the strength & durability you need, schedule a FREE Inspection and we’ll discuss gutter installation with you.
Simple to install without disturbing roof shingles, MicroGuard fits most gutters and is backed by a 15-year lifetime no clog warranty.
Do you know when it’s time to have your roof replaced?
It’s more than just hearing a drip-drip-drip in your attic or seeing water spots appear on your ceiling.
Answer the following questions with a Yes or No:
1. Is the roof deck sagging? (The roof deck is the material that supports your shingles and other roofing materials. You can inspect it on the inside.)
2. Are there signs of water damage or leaking? Do you hear dripping when it rains?
3. Do you see dark spots or water trails?
4. Do you see light from outside showing through your roof when you’re inside?
5. Do you see cracked, torn, or missing shingles on your roof?
6. Do you see loose material or wear around your chimney, vents, or pipes? Does it look as if the flashing has pulled away? (The flashing is the material that protects the holes around those protrusions from water leakage.)
7. Is there an excessive amount of shingle granules in the gutters? (Shingle granules look like large grains of sand and are a sign of advanced wear.)
8. Are there signs of moisture, rot, or mold? (Mold, fungi, and bacteria can grow very quickly.)
9. Are your gutters and downspouts securely attached? Does water escape the downspouts and gutters even when they’re clear of debris?
10. Is your HVAC system not working as well as you think it should, and you’ve had it serviced recently?
If you answered YES to any of these questions, it may be time to have your roof inspected for replacement.
Your roof does more than keep the boxes in your attic dry. It protects your entire home – from your attic to your basement – from moisture, mold, and damage. It keeps your energy inside your home (did you know that up to 40% of your home’s energy is lost through your roof?)
If you’re ready to have your roof replaced, download our FREE checklist to ensure that your project is successful.
If you’re ready to have your roof replaced, download our FREE contractor checklist to ensure that your project is successful.
Or call: 301-593-1691
Roof FAQs & Glossary
Or call: 301-593-1691
What should I look for when I want to hire a roofing contractor?
When selecting a roofing contractor, make sure they are licensed & bonded. Experience matters. Find out how long they have been in business and what type of credentials they carry. Ask for referrals and check out their reviews. If you are asked for the payment of a job up front that is a glaring red flag to avoid doing business with the company.
How do I know I need a new roof?
A leak is the first sign your roof is not protecting your home. Water stains on your walls, peeling or blistering paint or a damp musty smell are other factors that indicate your roof is not protecting your home. If you notice that your roof shingles are cracked or you have missing shingles this is another sign your roof needs to be replaced and last but not least if your heating and air condition bills are unusually high this is another sign you need a new roof.
How expensive is a new roof?
The price of a new roof depends on the size, style and shingles that you select. What type of underlayment is used, are you putting in ice and water protection, are you installing a ridge vent? What type of flashing and roof stacks are used? What size gutters and downspouts are installed and will you use a form of leaf relief? All these factors come into play when pricing a roof but expense should not be thought of in total cost, but how long a roof will last before you have to replace it. Will it protect your home from the fury of mother nature and the damage she can bring, will your heating & air conditioning bills be lower and more energy efficient and lastly how much value does a new roof increase the worth of your home.
What are the popular roofing materials?
Asphalt and or fiberglass shingles are very popular, they come in a wide variety of colors designs that are affordable and durable. Syndetic Slate which is made of a composition of materials offers the look of slate while at a lower cost. Cedar Shake is another shingle style that conveys a more natural look with the richness of wood. Roofing tiles are very popular in the southwest. Metal roofs are another very popular style roofing and they can also be made to look like wood shake, clay tiles and roofing shingles.
What are evades?
The roof edge from the fascia to the structure’s outside wall. In general terms, the first three feet across a roof is termed the eave.
What is a dormer?
A dormer is a raised roof extending out of a larger roof plane.
What is a Gable Roof?
A gable roof is a traditional roof style; two peaked roof planes meeting at a ridge line of equal size.
What is a Hip Roof?
A hip roof is a roof with four roof planes coming together at a peak and four separate hip legs.
What is a Steep Slope Roof?
Generally speaking steep slope roof means all slopes are higher than 4/12 are considered steep slopes.
What is a Drip Edge?
A drip edge is an installed lip that keeps shingles up off the deck at edges and extends shingles out over eaves and gutters
What is an ice dam?
An ice dam occurs when a snow load melts on a roof and re-freezes by the eaves. Ice dams force water to back up under the roof shingles and great harm in the form of water leakage.
What is a roof underlayment?
Underlayments are usually asphalt-based rolled materials designs to be installed under the main roofing material to provide additional protection.
What is a roof valley?
Roof valleys are created with two adjoining sloped roof planes intersect on a roof creating a “v” shaped depression.
How can I prevent mold from growing in my roof?
Attic ventilation is key. It is important that your roof breathe so moisture cannot develop and in turn create an environment conducive for mold growth. The installation of a ridge vent prevents moisture from accumulating.
What is the best way to fasten roofing shingles?
The national roofing contractors association recommends galvanized steel or the equivalent corrosion-resistant roof nails for asphalt single installation. It is also good to know what the shingle manufacturer recommends.
Can ice dams be reduced or removed?
You should remove as much snow as possible, but call a professional roofing contractor if your roof is steep, the snow is deep or the ice is thick. It is not recommended using ice picks or shovels because there is a chance you could damage the roof shingles and the flashing.
Can damming occur without gutters?
Yes, and it is more probable in roofs with lower slopes, especially in valleys and on the upslope from curbs, chimneys and penetrations.
How do I know my gutters aren’t working?
If you notice water is spilling over your gutters, or you see water running down the fascia or out of the soffit or you have foundation erosion these are red flags that your gutters aren’t performing. Another indication your gutters aren’t performing is if you have water damage inside your home
How can I keep my gutters from clogging?
It is important to have the correct size and number of downspouts that facilitate the flow of water. Leaves and debris blow into gutters or pest make themselves home in gutters. That is why we recommend installing some form gutter protection so your gutters are clean preventing water damage.
Are downspouts important and their size?
Yes, downspout size and number of downspouts are important. Having the correct size of downspouts and gutters means you will be able to direct water the way you need. A gutter protection system allows water to flow freely and allows debris to slip away and not cause any blockages.
Roofing Suppliers & Manufacturers
Through the responsible development of innovative and sustainable building products, CertainTeed has helped shape the building products industry for more than 110 years. Founded in 1904 as General Roofing Manufacturing Company, today, CertainTeed® is North America’s leading brand of exterior and interior building products, including roofing, siding, fence, decking, railing, trim, insulation, gypsum and ceilings. A subsidiary of Saint-Gobain, one of the world’s largest and oldest building products companies, CertainTeed and its affiliates have more than 5,700 employees and more than 60 manufacturing facilities throughout the United States and Canada.
CertainTeed and our parent company Saint-Gobain share the belief that ‘we do well by doing good.’ That concept drives our philanthropic decisions both as a corporation and in how we hope our employees will respond within their communities. Two of our favorite causes are: Homes for Our Troops – an organization that builds mortgage-free homes for severely injured veterans post- 9/11, and YouthBuild USA – a program that encourages low-income youth to unleash their positive energy and intelligence to rebuild their communities and their lives.