Your home’s roof is one of the most important investments you’ll ever make. It shields your home from damage, keeps your heating and cooling system efficient, and crowns your house in the architectural style you want. Whether you’re in the market for a roof repair or a new roof, it’s important to ensure that your contractor is expert, experienced and ethical. But how do you evaluate various roofing contractors to decide which one can do the work you want, at a fair price, and within your timeframe? Getting your money’s worth requires a little investigation, but the time you spend asking the right questions will pay off in the long run.
1. How many years has the roofer been in business under this name and is he properly licensed and bonded?
This is a good gauge of experience level and reliability. Check to make sure there is a permanent place of business, telephone number, tax ID number and a business license. Some states have specific licensing requirements for roofers, so check with your state’s professional licensing board to see if your contractor should be licensed to be a roofer.
2. Does the roofing contractor have insurance that includes liability coverage and workers compensation?
Insist on seeing proof of insurance and worker’s compensation certificates. Workers comp laws vary by state, so check your state’s laws to determine the requirements. The last thing you want is to be dragged into court because of an accident that occurs on your property or because the contractor was not properly insured.
3. Is the roofing company financially stable?
Lawsuits and non-payment for poor work can drain a company’s finances. A professional roofing contractor should be able to provide current financial information about his company to prove that it is financially stable. Ask if they are currently involved in any litigation, and/or if they’ve ever filed for bankruptcy.
4. Does your roofing contractor have a list of recent client references and completed projects?
Call several of these clients to be sure they were satisfied with the work and call your local Better Business Bureau or Department of Professional Regulation to check for possible complaints filed against the contractor.
5. Can your roofing contractor provide a written, detailed proposal?
Your proposal should include complete descriptions of the work to be performed, specifications, approximate start and completion dates, and payment procedures. Without it, you have no recourse if problems occur. The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) recommends making sure that these details are spelled out in your proposal:
The type of roof covering, manufacturer and color
Materials to be included in the work, e.g., underlayment, ice dam protection membrane
Scope of work to be done
Removal or replacement of existing roof
Flashing work, e.g., existing flashings to be replaced or re-used, adding new flashing, flashing metal type
Ventilation work, e.g., adding new vents
Grounds cleaning after installation
Who is responsible for repairing/replacing exterior landscape or interior finishes that are damaged during the course of the work
Approximate starting and completion dates
Length of warranty and what is covered, e.g., workmanship, water leakage
6. Is the contractor approved or licensed by the manufacturers of the roofing materials you want to use?
Most roof systems require special application expertise to achieve lasting quality. Some types of roofing materials require an approved provider/installer.
7. Can they provide local references for similar work they have completed?
A reputable, local contractor will have many local references that they can provide. Ask for the contact information or written documentation from customers who have contracted them for similar work. Also if there is a project in progress nearby, you can see how they operate before your hire them.
8. Is the contractor an active member of any industry associations?
Being a member of industry associations, such as NRCA, demonstrates a commitment to professionalism and continuing education in best roofing practices.
9. Can the contractor show you any warranties?
Carefully read and understand any roofing warranties offered, and watch for provisions that would void it.
10. Is the company committed to worker safety and education?
Ask the contractor what type of safety training he provides for his workers and what type of roof installation training and education they’ve had. The best roofing contractor is only as good as the workers who actually do the job.
Your roof is important. When it’s time to repair or replace, take the time to choose the best contractor to do the work. This baseline criteria will weed out fly-by-night operators and storm chasers that move through neighborhoods with great promises and prices, but then move on, never to be seen again. This leaves homeowners with little recourse when something goes wrong or if there is a warranty issue. Tried and true businesses that can provide licensing information, certifications, and reliable written quotes, will ensure you are purchasing a superior product from a quality contractor.