What Do You Need to Look For When Hiring a Local Roofer
Here in North America, we are lucky to have plenty of able-bodied hard workers willing to try their hand at your roofing project. No matter where you live, chances are there is someone just a few blocks away willing to work on your roof. Unfortunately, while many “roofing contractors” are quality professionals, some “professionals” are all too willing to make your roof their guinea pig. Don’t worry, finding a quality roofing contractor that can help with your roofing project is easy if you know what questions to ask.
While it may be difficult to sort through potential contractors, there are a few questions to ask and the answers you’re looking for to help you decide:
1. How Long Have You Been in Business?
A roofing contractor is someone who installs, repairs and maintains roofs on homes or commercial buildings. Established roofing companies are doing something right in the sense that they’ve been in business for a long time. At minimum, you want to see a track record of at least a few years of experience under their belt. Obviously, the more experience, the better because it means you are unlikely to have some unique problem they have not come across before. That said, if the price is right and a younger contractor can convince you to take a chance, they might reward you with new innovations that they recently discovered in trade school or an apprenticeship. A less experienced contractor may work significantly cheaper because they lack the experience necessary to charge more. While saving money is always nice, if you face problems down the road because of poor craftsmanship, it might not be an even tradeoff.
2. Are You Licensed?
Not all states required contractors be licensed, however many municipalities still have their own necessary licenses needed before picking up a hammer. Many are required to register with the Attorney General and you can visit your state’s Attorney General and search for information about contractors within the state. Remember, these government officials are here to work for you and make your life easier, so use the resources they provide.
3. Do You Have Workman’s Comp Insurance?
This protects you and your home from injuries or damage resulting from an accident at work. THIS IS IMPORTANT!
4. Do You Carry General Liability Insurance?
5. Who Is Your Insurer?
Verify who their insurance is through and, if possible, have them show you their coverages.
6. Is Removal of My Old Roof Included in Your Estimate?
In most cases, except for metal roofing, they should always remove old roofs before they put new down. You would hate to be surprised by an additional bill for garbage removal after agreeing to terms with the roofer. Make sure they include this or ensure you have factored in the price if it’s not. These days, most roofers will include this in the contract and the few that don’t should be able to give you solid recommendations.
7. Will You Be Installing Edge Metal or Drip Edge When the New Roof Is Installed?
This is a small piece of metal that extends to the gutter and will protect your roof from problems down the road. You might think every roofing contractor would obviously add this for your benefit, but unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Ensure that the roofer you hire will add the additional drip edge or edge metal to protect your investment.
8. What Do You Use to Protect My Gutters From Your Ladders During Installation?
Most roofing contractors will use ladder stabilizers to protect your gutters and avoid putting unnecessary weight and pressure on them. If they don’t plan to use ladder, stabilizers, ask them what method they are using to protect your gutters from damage during the roofing job.
9. How Do You Dispose of Refuse and Debris? How Do You Ensure No Nails or Old Roofing Is Left Anywhere in My Yard?
This will tell you how they plan to get rid of all the trash from the job. Hopefully, there is a quick way to eliminate it, rather than a large dumpster sitting in your driveway for weeks till the trash company comes to haul it away. It is also a good idea to remind them of small children and pets to make sure they are extra attentive to making sure every tiny nail and small piece of roofing wood has been removed. Still, after the job, you will want to do a thorough inspection yourself along the sides of your house and check for anything that they missed.
10. What Happens to My Roof if It Rains During the Job?
If they say anything other than that, they will be carefully covering your roof with a tarp or plastic and checking to make sure no water is leaking through find a new roofer.
11. Do You Have a Local Telephone Number and Address?
While not as big of an issue in the northeast, during hurricane season in the southern part of our country, roofers from all over flood the area and might not be as familiar with the intricacies of that neighborhood’s roofing issues. While you are most likely dealing with someone local, it’s still nice to have a number and an address to ensure you can reach them again should an issue arise.
12. What Is My Warranty on the New Roof and What Does That Cover?
Over the past few decades, roofing technology has come a long way. Most shingle roofing should have a 25 year warranty and be able to make it at least that long without a replacement. Other types of roofing may not come with the same warranty such as metal roofing, which typically only has a warranty associated with the paint that is used on the metal, but a warranty can usually be negotiated. Ask lots of questions and get all warranty information in writing.
13. What Is the Cost of Plywood Should You Find the Roof Decking to Be Soft or Rotten?
Make sure they are giving you specific information regarding the cost of new plywood to replace soft or rotten wood they remove. This will ensure that they do not overcharge you for plywood, which, after the job is complete, can be difficult to dispute.
14. How Do You Protect My Landscaping During the Roofing Job?
Depending on the level of pride you take in your landscaping, this can be an issue. If the landscaping matters to you, make sure you communicate that and let the roofers know to protect your plants and bushes from falling debris. Find out if they will replace damaged plants. That usually helps ensure they are extra careful during the job.
15. Do You Provide Written Estimates Detailing Scope of Roofing Work?
You want a written estimate. This should detail all associated costs (trash removal, cost of new plywood, cost of the new roof, etc.). Don’t settle for a verbal estimate. It must be written and explained clearly to you so you understand it. Go through it WITH the contractor item by item and ask for clarification for parts that seem vague or you don’t understand.
16. Do You Have References and/or Pictures of Previous Roofing Work?
If you are dealing with an experienced professional, most should have pictures of previous work and references who can speak to their skill and competence. If they have neither of those and preferably both, consider it a pretty large red flag.
17. How Soon Can You Begin the Work Once We Agree on the Details?
If this is something you need done right away, make sure that your schedules are aligned. Keep in mind that often the area’s best contractors might have many homeowners trying to hire them, so if time is of the essence it might cost more or you might have to settle for a lesser known commodity.
Final Words Before You Begin Your Roofing Project
Loaded with these 17 questions, you can be sure that you are dealing with a qualified professional and not some Johnny on the spot looking for a quick payday. If your contractor is vague or unwilling to answer any of the above questions, that might mean its time to look somewhere else to get the job done.
Realtors will tell you that a quality roof will not only increase the curb appeal of your home, but will increase the property value along with it! Consumers understand the importance of a good roof because of the dramatic changes in weather that we all experience. Don’t let an old roof detract from an otherwise safe and beautiful home. Remember, cheaper isn’t always better! It’s best to pay a fair price for quality work to ensure you don’t run into trouble down the road.
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