It never hurts to state the obvious: You get what you pay for. Choosing a competent, capable roofing contractor is every bit as important as selecting a high-quality roofing material. Skimp on one—or worse, both—and you run the risk of a job poorly done. We’ll walk you through interviewing potential roofers to find out if they’re worth your investment.
Note: Vetting candidates for fixing your roof becomes especially important right after a massive storm like a hurricane or tornado causes damage to multiple homes in your area. Scammers and less-than-professional roofers come crawling out of the woodwork at times like this, offering their substandard services for temptingly low prices. Don’t fall for it. If your area has just survived a massive storm, call FEMA first to get information about trustworthy roofing professionals. You can reach them at (800) 621-3362.
General Questions About the Business
What is the physical address of your business?
This is an easy first step to detect whether or not a business is legitimate. If the contractor gives you a P.O. Box or is vague about their office’s location, they might not be as trustworthy as another contractor. An actual address that leads to a neatly kept business or home office is a good indicator of professionalism.
How long has the company been in business?
The longer, the better. Roofers that have been in business for at least ten or more years have seen and experienced just about every type of roofing issue there is. That means you can trust them to know what they’re doing, even if something unexpected pops up.
Are you licensed and insured, and may I see proof?
Most states require contractors of all kinds to obtain a license from a state agency. Most licensing requirements involve providing proof of insurance and passing a test on knowledge of building codes. Insurance is essential because it protects you if your home gets damaged (liability) or if a worker gets injured while working on your home (workmen’s comp). Make sure your contractor has both. Don’t rely entirely on your homeowner’s insurance. Some policies won’t cover everything.
Are you bonded, and if so, may I see proof?
A surety bond is a type of insurance that will cover you financially if the contractor bails on the job and you have to hire someone else to finish it. It will also cover you if the contractor fails to pay their workers or if they fail to get a permit for the work, causing the city or county to bill you, the homeowner, for the missing permit. It might even help cover you if your home is damaged during work.
What training have your workers received?
The level of training you should expect varies depending on the type of work you’re having done. Most roofers learn their skills on the job as they go, though some may have received training in a vocational program. The contractor’s word that his workers are competent should suffice if you’re having asphalt shingles installed. For more technically specialized roof systems, however, the crew should have received factory training from one or more major material manufacturers.
What steps will you take to help protect my home and property?
Your roofing contractor should most definitely have an answer to this question. No one likes to get stuck at the end of their driveway with tires full of discarded roofing nails. Workers who don’t take precautions put your property and even your family and pets at risk. If your roofing needs to be torn off first, it should be deposited onto tarps and then placed directly into a dumpster. All property surrounding your home, including porches, patios, and bushes, should be well-covered to protect it from damage. And your roofers should dispose of their roofing nails carefully.
Another thing your roofer should have is a bad weather contingency plan. He or she should be responsible enough to check the weather forecast beforehand and know when to expect rain or high winds. Any sections of torn off or partially completed roofing should be securely covered and protected from the weather.
Specific Questions About the Work Itself
Once you’ve determined a contractor’s legitimacy and level of professionalism, it’s time to ask the questions that will help you decide whether they’re the right man or woman for the job.
When are you available to begin work, and what percentage of jobs are you able to start on schedule?
If you have a hole in your roof, you are obviously going to want someone who’s available immediately. If you’d just like to switch out your shingles for a new look, you may be willing to wait a few months. Whatever the situation, you’ll want to know when the estimated completion date.
Do you provide a manufacturer’s warranty for the materials you supply, and do you provide labor for the installation?
Manufacturer’s warranties tend to vary greatly, so you need to understand the warranty before settling on a material. Labor warranties should last at least 12 months, covering the roof during all four seasons.
If you discover that the roof deck needs work, how much will you charge for the additional work to fix it?
Sometimes once the old roof is removed, it becomes evident that the roof deck needs repair. Repairing the roof deck can be very expensive. It’s better to know what you’ll be in for up-front so you don’t end up having to switch roofing companies, or worse, stalling the job while your home is exposed to the elements.
What about upgrading the venting?
Venting the attic or other space below the roof deck helps block out potentially damaging heat and moisture. This will improve the strength and durability of the roof and the home below. Having your roof replaced presents the best opportunity to add crucial vents. Make sure to determine the cost up-front, so you don’t get surprised later.
Other Things to Check For
Your roofer should:
- Have plenty of experience installing the specific brand of roofing material they’ll be using on your home.
- Plan to use exactly the type and number of fasteners required by the manufacturer, and place them exactly where specified by the manufacturer.
- Have the know-how and proven methods in place for properly installing materials to prevent water from leaking through your roof.
Asking your roofer these essential questions can help keep you from getting burned (or, more accurately, perhaps, soaked). If you need help with any other home improvement or maintenance issue, please feel free to reach out to us on social media or call any of our East Tennessee locations.