10 questions that you need to ask before you even THINK about hiring a roofing contractor.

You’d be surprised how many homeowners have faced a disaster because they put their trust into the wrong organization. With something as important as the roof over your family’s head, you can’t afford to take any chances with their wellbeing.

We’ve put together a list of 10 questions that you need to ask before you even THINK about hiring a roofing contractor.

1. Do they have legitimate references?

Even a small contractor will work on over a 100 homes a year. Some companies like ours work more than that. But most contractors only give you a handful of references if they give any at all. Anyone could produce a few people that will say they were happy. But a quality contractor can and will produce all of the homeowners that they have worked on in your area. After you get the list, call some of the references to verify that they are real customers.

2. Do they have a permanent place of business?

Some people may wonder why this is important. One thought might be “well if I work with a small contractor with a low overhead, the prices may be less”. And this is a logical idea, however the small contractor working out of their home will typically not have the resources to respond if and when something happens to your roof after it’s installed.

3. How do they inspect and measure your roof?

Getting the roof measurements and conducting a thorough inspection are not the same thing. Many contractors have the philosophy that “we’re going to remove the roof, so why do a thorough inspection?” This kind of thinking commonly leads to additional costs during the installation process, or even worse, the problem gets covered up and can emerge at a later date and become a major expensive issue. If the contractor does not proactively request to do a thorough inspection that includes checking your attic from one side to the other, be very suspicious of their recommendations. A contractor that gives recommendations without conducting a thorough inspection would be like a doctor diagnosing a broken limb without doing an x-ray. You wouldn’t accept it at the doctors, and you shouldn’t accept it if you’re spending thousands of dollars on a roofing replacement.

4. Is the crew drug and background checked?

A roofing company should care about the employees they hire. Make sure they drug test and background check all of their employees. The last thing that you would want is to unknowingly invite someone onto your property that poses a threat to you and your family.

5. Are they fully insured?

Liability insurance covers your home against damage and it covers you against physical injury cause by the contractor. There are a few things to check out to make sure you are covered. First of all you want to verify if they are insured for the work proposed. Many contractors become licensed as general contractors. This opens up many trades to be insured as. I’ve seen people saying they were roofers when in fact they were insured as landscapers. Still, some contractors and roofers will skimp out on this requirement. The reason? Insurance isn’t cheap, and some would rather take their chances.

6. How do they guarantee their work?

Many home owners assume their material warranty covers any issues that may arise with their roof… this is not true! The material warranty only covers you against manufacturing defects, THAT’S IT. And in the last 20 years that I have been in this industry, and the thousands of installations that I’ve been involved with I have only seen a handful of manufacturer defects. On the other hand, we get twice as many calls every day for roof repairs than we do replace roofs. What this means is that many roofs leak at no fault of the materials. So whose fault is it? The contractor. The reason why I’m sharing this with you is that many consumers think all roofers are the same, and that once the roof is done their roof will be problem free forever. Unfortunately this may not be the case. So how does the contractor guarantee their work? Many contractors have workmanship warranties but they do not explain what will happen if there is a problem. For example, there is a major storm and thousands of people have roof issues… What is their promise to take care of you? What if it happens on a Sunday, are they equipped to handle it? The bottom line is never assume! All guarantees should be in writing and thoroughly discussed before you enter into any agreement.

7. Do they give a wide selection of options?

Let’s face it, a roof is a large expense and once it’s on, it’s on. The last thing you want to do is overpay for something that you don’t like or need. And even worse is to underpay when you could have gotten a system that could have better met your needs, or doesn’t work all together. This is why it’s critical to be dealing with a highly trained contractor that does a thorough inspection and comprehensive consultation with you. A roof is not a single component, it’s an assembly of many components and you want to have a decent understanding of what’s available to you. For example if a roofer uses a long life shingle, with a short life flashing, the roof may have issues prematurely. Some roofers only offer one product line. This may also limit your options and reduce the functionality of your roofing system.

8. What happens if there is inclement weather during the job?

Cover the job project in tarpaulins or plastic covers…Let’s face it: the weather guy is not always right. This isn’t too bad when you’re stuck in the office all day, but when someone is removing and replacing your roof it can be a major problem. If the prettiest of days turns into a rain storm, what will the roofing company do to protect the interior of your home? Make sure your roofer has a plan for this. Your roof should be covered in some type of plastic sheeting or tarpaulin to ensure it, and everything beneath it, remains dry. Also ask what the plan is if the rainy days extend for a while. Will the company come back to ensure the covering is keeping the home dry? If there is a storm with high winds

9. How will you protect my landscape during this project?

Specific details on what the company will do to ensure your landscaping does not take a beating. (Placement of equipment, traffic patterns to avoid trampling the bushes, etc.) Too often, homeowners think about what’s going on top of the roof and forget about what surrounds the house. If you spend hundreds – or thousands – of dollars planting trees, shrubs and flowers, you don’t want to come home to a new roof but a torn up lawn. Before you hire a company, ask specifically what they will do to protect your landscaping. Where will the ladders go? Where will the old shingles and potentially rotten plywood be dropped or tossed so that it doesn’t affect the bushes and flowers that surround your house? If an accident does occur and an employee from the company tromps through your rose garden, what will the company do to fix the damage?

10. Is there someone on site with whom I can communicate?

While we always hope home renovation projects run smoothly, experience proves they don’t. If you return home after a long day at work to find your roof is as open as a convertible and the company is ready to leave for the night, you want to know there is a project manager on site with whom you can communicate your concerns. While some companies will tell you during the sale that you’ll have someone on site managing the job, you might find when the crew shows up in the morning no one is sure who that project manager is. Find out before you leave for the day. If you still don’t know, call the company and ask. And if no one can answer, send the crew away until they can. A reputable roofing company will have someone on site throughout the project to answer questions and address concerns.