Posted by Monica in DIY/Home Improvement
on 04 24th, 2007 | 67 responses
I’ve had the pleasure of hiring roofing contractors for a number of different jobs. However, my worst roofing experience came when I was trying to be cheap. A friend needed a new roof put on their barn at the same time that I needed a new roof on my house. This friend “knew a guy”, and negotiated a volume discount — a cheaper price because the same contractor would do both roofs. The contractor did a terrible job which resulted in a roof leak and damage to the inside of our house. The roofer refused to stand by his work (or even come inspect the problem). Finally, my friend (who had hired the roofer for a second project) refused to pay for that second project until our roof was fixed. You can’t avoid bad luck — but you can take quite a few steps to ensure that you have found a quality contractor. Here are a few tips that will increase the odds that you’re happy with your next roofer.
Never make your decision based on price alone.
If you interview enough roofers, you’ll find that their prices vary dramatically, even for the same project. Many of the best roofers routinely turn down work. As a result, they don’t have to compete on price. The flip side of paying a higher price is that the contractor has built enough padding into their bid that they can profitably work with you if there are problems down the road. If you drive such a hard bargain that your contractor is barely covering their costs, they will have no incentive to help you down the road.
Hire someone local.
If you hire a roofer from out of town, they know that good word of mouth won’t help much and bad word of mouth won’t hurt. If a contractor is local, word of mouth is more important.
Interview several contractors: get multiple quotes, and thoroughly check each roofer’s references.
The process may seem time consuming and bothersome but trust me, it is considerably less annoying than watching the drywall in your house swell and discolor because of a leak. Talk to your friends, relatives, and neighbors to get referrals for a roofing contractor. If you need more names you can request that contractors contact you using a website like Roofery.com or the Yellow Pages.
As each contractor comes to your home or business to prepare an estimate, ask them for additional information on their credentials and work record. Some things to check are:
- To verify that particular contractors do good work, ask for a list of references. Call each and every reference. Do they give a glowing report? Many people prefer not to criticize people that they know, so if you get a lukewarm response or if they aren’t willing to provide a reference, you need to try to read between the lines.
- To ensure that a contractor is reliable, ask for a business address, phone number and email, their tax identification, and if a business license is required in your area, get that information as well
- State requirements vary, but find out if roofing contractors must be bonded and registered. To find out the rules where you live contact your state’s licensing department or check out http://www.contractors-license.org/.
- Since you definitely don’t want to be sued because of their irresponsibility, ask to see proof of insurance. Their liability and workers compensation needs to be in effect for the duration of your project. If it isn’t, workers injured at your site may come after your assets.
- In the same vein, ask them to walk you through the type of oversight and safety guidelines they follow. Properly educated workers are far more unlikely to be injured on the job. If they offer their employees formal safety training, so much the better.
- Find out how many workers will be installing your roof and how experienced they are. Also ask for the name and credentials of the person that will supervise your roofing project and what kind of quality control procedures they follow.
- I once hired a roofer who told me verbally that he would use 30-year asphalt shingles. However, when he arrived on-site, he had 25-year shingles. We went back and forth for a while, and because we had a written agreement, we were able to resolve this to my satisfaction. Require that all roofing contractors that bid on your project provide you with a detailed written proposal. It should include the start and completion dates, materials list, and description of work, safety procedures and clean-up methods they employ, and mutually agreed upon payment schedule. You can always work with your roofer if they run late on the schedule, but make sure you have documentation of what they’ve promised.
- Get in touch with your local Better Business Bureau. They will tell you of any complaints filed against a roofing contractor you’re considering hiring.
- Thoroughly read and understand the warranty attached to the products (shingles, underlayment, tiles, etc.) and workmanship.
- Many roofing systems require specific skills, knowledge, and experience to install. Ask your contractor for proof that he or she is approved by the manufacturer to install the roof you’ve chosen.
Following these suggestions will help you locate a reliable and affordable roofing contractor. Roofery.com provides a free tool to request roofing quotes. For a list of people in your area you may also contact the National Roofing Contractor’s Association.
Leave a Reply