Roof restoration is quite an investment and not one you should take lightly. It’s astonishing that many people do plenty of research before they buy a plasma TV but they won’t put forth the same effort when hiring a roofing contractor to replace their roof which typically costs ten times as much if not more.
The age of your roof will have a lot to do with the type roof services you require. Typically, roof shingles last about 20-25 years, so if you have a roof that’s only a few years old, roof repair using new roofing materials is probably your best option since the roof will most likely still last a very long time. However if your roof is in the 15-25 year range you may have to take a closer look at it to determine if you should go ahead and replace it. At some point roof repair becomes a losing proposition because of the required maintenance that will be needed as your roof continues to age. The amount of time you have left at your current residence should also factor into whether you have the roof shingles repaired, or a totally new roof installed.
If you’ve already determined that you need new installation roof services, it is time to start looking for a roofing contractor. One of the first things we recommend you do is to develop a list of about five roofing contractors that you’d like to have provide a roofing proposal on roof repair or to replace your roof. Your job will be to screen and weed out any roofing contractors that could potentially cause problems for you or that have poor reputations in the roof repair industry.
Finding Roofers in your Area
Obviously the first place to start your search for professional roofing contractors is with friends, relatives, neighbors and acquaintances that have recently had roof repair work done. It’s important to note here though that just because you received a personal reference from someone doesn’t mean that the contractor shouldn’t be screened. This is the big mistake a lot of folks make and they end up paying for it dearly in the long run… they hire a contractor to do really expensive work just because someone they know referred them. Don’t make that same mistake… Sure put personal referrals and those with contractor insurance at the top of the list, but do your due diligence and screen them with the rest of your contractors. The probability of hiring a good roofing contractor are greatly increased by doing this.
If you’re having trouble finding referrals or references to complete your list of potential roof restoration contractors you can always turn to the major roofing materials suppliers in your area and ask them for some referrals or recommendations as well. Suppliers often have a good idea of who provides a lot of roof services, since they get to see which roofing contractors pay on time and how often they purchase roofing materials and sometimes they even get to know which roof restoration professional has a good reputation in the industry and which ones don’t.
You can do the same with general contractors and building inspectors. These professionals can be outstanding resources for you as they work with roof repair contractors on a fairly consistent basis. You may find that some of these professionals are reluctant to share information with you good or bad about the roofing contractors you’re considering and that’s typically due to a professional courtesy. To get the information you want on professional roofing contractors, you may need to “sweeten the pot” a bit by offering a free lunch, a free round of golf or may be a free cold beer after a long day of work. The point is these professionals work with roofing contractors all the time and believe it or not, they know who the good roofing contractors are and who the bad ones are as well. General contractors, building inspectors and roof restoration suppliers are all great sources of information if you can get them to open up…
To complete your list of potential specialty roofing candidates I strongly recommend you seek one with contractor insurance. And consider searching the Handy American directory for a dependable and honest contractor in your area.
Once you’ve developed a list of about five roofing contractors what you want to do is weed out all the bad apples and screen them so that you can give yourself the best chance to hire a good and competent specialty roofing contractor that knows his craft and will do the roof restoration job right the first time.
How to Screen a Roofer
Let’s get the obvious stuff out of the way first. Aside from having contractor insurance, you want to make sure your roofing contractors have permanent places of business and that they have a regular telephone number. Check to make sure he is licensed or bonded. Requirements vary from state to state but it’s always a better idea to hire a roofing contractor with contractor insurance. One that is licensed and bonded because it gives you some options if you have future problems with your roof services. Say it starts to leak or something…
You can check to see if the roofing contractor is licensed by doing a search in Google for “state license board your state” and just replace “Your state” with the actual name of your state. To kill two birds with one stone, call the office to find out if the professional roofing contractor is licensed. To find out whether or not he is an honest contractor, ask if recent complaints have been lodged against him. The state licensing board is one of the first places people go to complain about bad experiences with contractors and that’s another reason to go with a licensed specialty roofing contractor.
There are plenty of projects around the house that you can use less skilled contractors for but roof services isn’t one of them. A roof is very expensive to replace so you want to make sure you find the best professional roofing contractor for the new roof installation or roof repair job. To do that you’ll need to start digging some more for reviews or data on what type of successful roofing work the roof restoration contractor is known for before you request a roofing proposal.
One of the first places to check to determine if the roofer is an honest contractor is the Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org. Basically what you’re looking for are any complaints involving the roofing contractors on your list.
Any roofing contractor can get angry customers at one point or another so it’s important to note that just because a contractor has a complaint or two doesn’t mean that they are not an honest contractor or reliable roof restoration professional. Something else you’ll want to look at closely is how disputes and disagreements are resolved by the contractors on your list. Do they work with their clients to find a resolution? By the same token you probably want to stay away from any roofing contractors that have several unresolved complaints or several recent complaints as it could be a sign of a contractor in financial trouble.
Once you’re done pre-screening your list of potential roofing contractors, you can move forward by having the contractors that are left provide a roofing proposal on your roofing project. Hopefully you have at least two but preferably three roof restoration candidates left so you can have a few different bids to look at and compare. Along with their roofing proposal let the professional roofing candidates know that you’ll need to see proof of Workers Compensation and contractor insurance if they are selected for roof services. It is absolutely necessary for the roofer you hire to have current contractor insurance in the event that a roofer get’s injured while working on your roof. If the roof repair contractor does not have insurance, you could be held liable and that’s obviously a headache you do not want. When you decide upon a roofing contractor, you’ll want to ask your roofer for his contractor insurance agents contact information so you can ask for a certificate of insurance to verify that all insurance is current. Avoid roofing contractors who say you don’t need contractor insurance or that says your homeowners insurance will cover the work.
Questions to Ask During the Interview
If you are going with a larger roof restoration company it’s possible that the person that comes out to do the roofing proposal will be a sales person rather than a roofing contractor. It’s important to note that sales people often over promise on what the actual roofers will be able to deliver. Good professional roofing contractors will get on your roof to inspect the condition of the roofing materials as well as the decking, ventilation and flashing. For a detailed look at what flashing is and how it works check out: Extreme How To – Roof Flashing. The more you know about roofs and how they work the better you’ll be able to discern a good roofing contractor from a bad one.
- Does your roof restoration contractor have a specialty roofing crew that he employs? Some roofers don’t have a professional crew and will hire cheap day labor wherever they can find it. The most successful roofing work will usually come from professionals who provide roof services daily. Do you want someone hired from a street corner working on your roof?
- If you have a steep roof you should ask the contractor if he plans on using roof jacks. If you don’t know what roof jacks are click here to see what they are and to see how a roofer would use them on a steep roof. Little nuances like this will help you decipher the professionals from the pretenders.
- Do they have a roofing magnet to pick up nails at the end of the work day?
- Will your roof restoration contractor be using roofing felt? Roofing felt is strongly recommended for a successful roofing project, because it is an integral part of the specialty roofing system that protects your house from water, felt provides a buffer between your roof deck and the roof shingles and most importantly without felt your roof will not qualify for a UL approved fire rating. A lot of newer roofing contractors struggle a bit with installing felt properly so be at least a bit cautious of someone who doesn’t want to install roofing felt underneath your roof shingles. It could be a sign of an amateur roofer. 15 lb. roofing felt is the standard but 30 lb is preferable.
- You’ll also want to make sure that the right nailing pattern is followed and that your roofing contractor plans on following all of the manufacturer’s specifications found on the roof shingles. Not doing so could void any warranty your new roof comes with.
- Ask if your roofing contractor plans on nailing in the roof shingles by hand or by using an air-powered nail gun? There are a lot of advantages to nailing by hand and generally speaking it results in better more precise work. The problem with nail guns is that they sometimes shoot nails right through the roof shingles if they are not properly adjusted…
- Ask to see pictures of previous roof services work, and ask for references preferably ones that you can speak to. Seeing the quality of roof repair work the roofer has done in the past is a good indicator of what he is capable of and what you can expect.
- Ask the roofer if his contractor insurance is up-to-date, and whether or not he is a licensed or approved applicator for any manufacturers? A lot of roofing systems these days require special application expertise for the best results.
- Ask the roof restoration contractor if he will warranty his work and for how long? An honest contractor will stand by his work.
The National Roofing Contractors Association also provides a couple of really useful forms that you can use to pre-qualify your list of contractors and also to give yourself a good idea of what kinds of questions you should be asking as well as give yourself a great idea of what to look for. The first form is a pdf that you can print up and use to compile information about the potential roofing contractor. If you’re a little uneasy about interviewing professional roofing candidates you can also use this National Roofing Contractors Association form a guide during your interview. You can download it here. The National Roofing Contractors Association also provides a printable pdf that you can use to compare a couple of contractors so you can see a side by side comparison of your best roofing contractor prospects. You can download and print it here. Alternatively you can also download and print our contractor comparison form by clicking here. A roofing proposal from a good roofing contractor will specify in great detail what roof repair problems currently exist in your roof and how they will be addressed. When you walk away from an interview with a roofing contractor you should feel more educated about the decision you have to make because part of the job of a good roofing contractor is to educate and inform their potential clients on all the options possible for their budget. The roofing proposal should answer any questions you have about the roof restoration project. If it doesn’t than those questions need to be addressed prior to proceeding.
Find an Honest Contractor – Interview References
One of the best things you can do to improve your chances of hiring a good professional roofing contractor is to speak to the references provided by the roofer and also to any of your personal friends or acquaintances who referred you to a specific roof services provider. If you’re unsure of what to ask, check out our free form which outlines which questions to ask by going to: contractor reference checklist. Below are some questions you may want to consider asking:
- Was there good communications between you and the specialty roofing contractor?
- Were you informed of the roof repair progress and of any problems that arose by the roofer?
- Were you satisfied by how the roofing contractor replied to your questions and inquiries?
- Was the job site kept clean and cleaned up at the end of every day?
- Were there any unexpected costs and why?
- Was your roof finished on time?
- Were you satisfied with the overall roof repair work of the specialty roofing contractor?
- Was the roofer an honest contractor? Would you hire this roof restoration contractor again or recommend him to others?
Again use the forms linked to above to help you compile all of the information you’ve gathered to help you make a better, more informed decision. Your goal at the beginning of this process should be to end up with two to three qualified roofing contractors that will bid on your roofing project and make it hard for you to make a decision. If you’re having a hard time making a decision at this point because you have multiple roofers that appear to be well qualified and you have some great looking roofing proposal options then you’re exactly in the position you want to be in.
Drafting A Contract
Signing a contract with your roofing contractor of choice is the best way to avoid any misunderstanding down the line. While it is impossible to cover all the minutiae and nuances of a professional roofing contract here, below are some points you may want to cover in your roof services contact.
- What, if any, building permits are necessary for the roof restoration project?
- A successful roofing contract should call out which specialty roofing materials will be used, specific brand and color.
- The roof shingles or other roofing materials should be installed to all manufacturer’s specifications.
- The roofing contract should specify a start and completion date for the roof repair project as well as a plan of action for bad weather days.
- The existing roof should be removed to allow a thorough inspection of flashing and decking.
- Specialty roofing felt should be applied.
- You should include that you want your roof and grounds to be cleaned at the end of every day and you probably also want to specify work hours.
- The roof restoration contract should detail all warranties for work and roofing materials.
- Make sure that you have the contact information for the contractor insurance agent so you can verify that the roofer has valid Worker’s Compensation and contractor insurance.
- Due to liens, it’s a good idea to require your roofing contractor list his suppliers and any subcontractors that will be used on the roof repair project. Insist that you either pay them directly or require that you be show a receipt that they have been paid.
A new roof is a considerable investment and not something you should take lightly. Qualifying and screening roofing contractors will give you a much better chance of finding the most reliable and honest contractor possible. And hiring a good roofing contractor who will do the roof restoration job right the first time.