Dear Jim: We are adding a room to our house, and I want a high-quality, attractive roof. I am already on my second shingle roof. What are the best alternative materials for reroofing the old one and the new roof? --Bill H.Dear Bill: There are many excellent traditional and new high-tech roofing options instead of standard 20- to 25-year shingles. They are available in many styles, surface textures and colors to give your home a distinctive look. With their contoured shapes, they also reduce heat gain in the summer.

Most of these roofing materials are fireproof or fire-resistant. Burning embers from a nearby house fire, or even your own fireplace chimney, may start a fire on your roof. Some states require fire-rated roofing materials, and your insurance company may lower your premiums with a new fireproof roof.

Although most alternative roofing materials cost more than standard shingles, many have lifetime warranties. Even if you do not plan to stay in your house forever, most of the roof warranties are transferable to new owners. This can enhance the marketability and resale value of your home.

The main types of nonmetallic roofing materials to consider are clay tiles, cement tiles, fiber-cement, slate, plastic-fiber and cedar. These are also good for the environment because they are made of either natural or recycled materials and they will not end up in a landfill in 20 years.

Clay tile (available in many styles and shapes) has been used for centuries and practically lasts forever. There are new lightweight clay tiles that can be used to reroof a house without making strengthening improvements to the roof structure. They are still durable with full lifetime warranties.

Concrete can be formed into any roofing material shape -- tiles, shakes, slate, etc. From the ground, you cannot distinguish it from the material that it simulates. Natural oxides of various metals are added to give it any color you wish. They are attached like clay or slate roofing.

Fiber-cement roofing tiles and shakes are made of recycled cellulose fiber and cement. They have similar properties of concrete tiles, but they weigh less and can be used for most reroofing jobs. Some manufacturers do not recommended their products for areas with frequent freeze-thaw cycles.

Slate, like clay tiles, lasts forever and looks beautiful. There are subtle color and surface texture variations that give a house an elegant look. It weighs as much as 3,200 pounds per 100 square foot, so extra support is needed.

New plastic-fiber roofing material can be molded into any shape. It uses recycled plastic from hose and waterbed factories and wood fibers from old pallets. Like some attractive fire-retardant cedar shakes, it has a 50-year warranty.

Write for (instantly download -- Update Bulletin No. 539 -- selector guide of 20 roofing material manufacturers, types, styles, warranties and features. Please include $3 and a business-size self-addressed stamped envelope. Address: James Dulley, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45244.

Dear Jim: We have an attached two-car garage. We use the attic area in the garage for storage. Since the garage has two common walls with the house, does it make sense to bother to insulate the garage? -- Mary W.

Dear Mary: In most cases it does not make sense to insulate the attic over the garage. The walls that the garage has in common with the house should already be insulated, so keeping the garage warm is not a factor. If you work in your garage a lot in the summer, the heat may be a discomfort problem. You might consider stapling reflective foil underneath the roof rafters. This will block much of the heat from the hot roof.