Whether your roof needs relatively small repairs or a complete overhaul, choosing a professional, reputable, honest, and customer-focused roofing contractor is not just important: it is essential!
To help you make a rewarding choice — and avoid a regrettable one — here are seven tips to keep in mind as you evaluate roofing contractors, and ultimately determine which one is worthy of your trust:
Verify Certification, Licensing and Insurance
Before you even consider inviting roofing companies to provide a quote, verify that they have obtained all required certification, licensing, and insurance.
Before moving onto the next tip, you may be wondering: “Do I really need to spend a little time to verify all of these things? Aren’t all roofing contractors properly certified, licensed and insured?” Unfortunately, the answer is NO. Not only will you likely end up with shoddy work that ends up costing you thousands of dollars to fix, but you will be personally responsible for any damage caused to any other part of your property (or your neighbors’ property).
There are two critical reasons why you want to choose a local roofing contractor. The first reason is that you want your roofing contractor to be completely aware of all local rules and code regulations. The second reason you want to be able to contact other homeowners in your community who have worked with that roofing contractor and will provide you with feedback on their experience.
Beware of High Down Payment Demands
A legitimate and reputable roofing contractor will typically ask for a minimal down payment in the 5-10% range. Demand for a high down payment could be an indication of a roofing contractor’s financial instability.
Don’t be Afraid to Ask Questions!
Repairing or replacing a roof is not an impulse buy (like those goodies they always put at the checkout line in the grocery store!). It is an investment in what is likely your most valuable asset: your home. As such, you want to be educated and make an informed decision.
A roofing contractor that you can trust will gladly answer all of your questions and encourage you to learn as much as you can about aspects like schedules, materials, warranties, and so on. Conversely, a roofing contractor that is reluctant or unwilling to answer your questions is demonstrating that they are not customer focused and/or that they are incompetent.
Ask for photos of completed work, if available. Keep in mind, however, that many roofers will not have photos. • Request a list of 10 names and phone numbers of recent customers (last 12 months). It is not necessary to check all 10, but you will be able to pick randomly from the list those you do call.
Typically, contractor workmanship warranties are for one year or more. Longer warranties are not necessarily more valuable than shorter warranties. The length of the warranty is less important than the intent and ability of the roofer to stand behind his warranty. That is best evaluated using customer referrals.
Pay Attention to Communication
How a roofing contractor communicates with you during the early stages is a good indication of what you can expect once the work starts. If they are professional, responsive, respectful and focused on your needs vs. theirs, then you are going to be in good shape. On the other hand, if they are pushy, impolite or unresponsive, then you should not ignore these warnings — because they are a sign of what is to come.
Get Everything in Writing
Last but not least, a roofing contractor you can trust will put everything in writing, including aspects such as schedule, scope, materials, safety procedures, liability, workers’ compensation, payment amounts (and due dates, if installment payments are part of the agreement), and clean-up methods.
Most contracts for roofing work are simple and straightforward. The larger or more experienced contractors may have longer, more detailed contracts. Regardless of the form of the agreement, you should read all of the specific items in the contract carefully. Misunderstandings are more often the cause of contract disagreement rather than actual dishonesty or incompetence. It is in your interest that certain items which are important to you be stated in writing in the contract.
Start and stop dates are difficult to pin down due to the unpredictability of the weather. But you can control exceptions. For instance, negotiate a “no-later-than” clause. Be reasonable, but do make it clear that these terms will be enforced if necessary
Many contractors have had experiences with unreasonable or dishonest homeowners. Therefore, they look for warning signs of customer problems during the initial job interview. Show the contractor that you are an informed consumer who has both your and his best interests in mind.