Things to Ask Before Hiring a Roofing Contractor

While most contractors are responsible professionals, everyone has heard horror stories of disappearing work crews, ballooning costs, and missed delines. To make sure that you choose the right professional to fix your roof, ask these questions before signing a contract.
  • As an architect it always surprises me how little people know about their roofing contractor. You should always check with the appropriate boards and companies to make sure that your roofing contractor is licensed and insured before hiring anyone.
  • A good roofing contractor will hand over his or her license number and insurance information for anyone that asks. When you call to make sure that he is licensed, be sure that your contractor is an actual a roofing contractor. Most are registered with the State Board of Roofing Contractors.
  • When calling the insurance carrier, verify that the account is in good standing and the contractor has not only liability insurance, but worker's compensation insurance as well. It's a good idea to mention that you will be calling to check on this, most will see it as a sign of professionalism, not distrust.
  • Be sure to spell out the exact terms of your agreement before any work takes place. Ask if the roofing contractor will provide a written warranty of the work he completes. If the product he is installing has a warranty, find out if he will honor the manufacturers warranty as well if there is a problem. If he will, make sure that is explicitly stated in the warranty.
  • A roofing contractor should also always provide a written contract. Do not settle for a verbal agreement under any circumstances. Some companies may want a deposit. 20 percent is a reasonable deposit, but many contractors no longer require one if they are well established. Be sure that you never pay cash.
  • Ask about the process the work crew will use to repair your roof. Make sure that the crew will not remove more of the roof than can be replaced in a single day. There should also be enough tarps to cover the roof in case of rain on site in case of bad weather.
  • Also ask about possibilities that might occur during the repair. If the roofing contractor finds rotting wood, what will that cost to replace. Get the estimate in writing; unscrupulous businessman will wait until the roof is off before telling you about wood replacement costs.
  • Verify that the contractor will replace the vent flanges and flashing, not just reuse the old materials. Often these should be replaced, even if you believe them to be sound. If this is anything other than a minor repair, insist that new flashing be used.
  • A roofing contractor should also include in the bid the cost for removing debris from the project. This includes scraps and old roofing materials. Most companies rent a truck or dumpster to haul debris. Make sure your quote covers these costs. Also ask about how the contractor intends to contain the job to prevent nails and other debris from spreading throughout the yard.
  • When hiring a roofing contractor it is important to remember that it takes time to determine the expectations of both parties. A professional roofing contractor will work hard to make sure he understands your expectations before he drives his first nail, but you are responsible for making those expectations known.
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