If you're a home designer or architect, one of the problems you may struggle with is helping clients choose the best roofing material for their home. Some clients may assume asphalt shingles are the answer without even considering other choices, while others may be convinced they need the latest and greatest -- but cringe when you show them the estimates. Here are a few ways you can help your clients choose the right roofing material for their needs.

Show them pictures of homes similar to theirs with different types of roofs.

If you're just showing clients assorted pictures of various homes that have different types of roofs, they may have trouble visualizing what a certain roof will look like on their home. So, really hone in the photos you show to your clients. Only show them homes very similar to the one you're designing for them -- and look for ones with different types of roofing. For instance, you can show them one with a cedar roof, another with a metal roof, and a third with tan shingles. 

Let them see the roofing materials in person.

Another way to help your clients make a decision is to show them actual samples of the roofing materials rather than just images. Perhaps you could have a roofing contractor who you've worked with before bring out samples of a few different materials and explain the benefits of each to the client. They are an expert in the materials they use, so they may have more targeted, valuable information to offer the clients than the information you would come up with. As they handle the materials, they will get a better sense of the thickness and durability of certain materials.

Ask their budget first.

One thing you want to avoid is showing your clients a lot of high-end, specialized roofing materials and then finding that their budget is too low to accommodate any of the materials you've shown them. So, ask for their budget first, and then only show them roofing materials that fall into that budget.

What should you do if your client presents you with a completely unreasonable budget for roofing? Well, in that case, you need to do some gentle explaining. Show them a sample or two of a lower-end roof material, and tell them the cost of that material. Explain that this is about as low as they can go, and that they simply have to find a way to expand their budget. Seeing that their amount won't even get them the lower-end materials will give them a more realistic sense of the amount they should be spending.

You can also recommend other areas of the house that they could cut back to leave more room in the budget for roofing. For instance, suggest they switch to laminate counter tops rather than granite, and put the $2,000 or $3,000 difference into the roof.

Give them a list of local challenges a roof must address.

Often, clients take to the internet to research different types of roofing without realizing that the benefits of certain types of roofing are very regional. For instance, they may latch onto the idea of light-colored metal roofing being a good energy-saving investment, when in your local area, there are only a few months or sunshine and a light-colored roof makes little difference.

You can nip this problem in the bud by giving your client a list of the biggest challenges roofs face in your area. For example, in an area that receives a lot of snow, you ma emphasize to your client that they need a roofing material that is resistant to ice buildup, not brittle in cold temperatures, and strong enough to support snow weight. This should help guide them as they do their own research.