How to Choose a Roofing Contractor
A new roof is a big investment, and the materials are only a small portion of it.. What you’re really paying for is the skilled labor. Thus, you need to be smart when deciding whom to hire.
Seems easy? Not exactly. Anyone can be like a roofer, but that doesn’t mean they’re automatically qualified.
Seeking Good Prospects
Look in the yellow pages only if you can’t get a referral from someone you know and trust. At least, you should have two prospects, each one having been in business for no less than five years. In such a competitive industry, only good roofers usually last that long. Start by asking about availability. Ask for client references as well, and drop anyone who won’t provide any.
Then spend time doing drive-by inspections of some of their recent jobs. See if the spaces between individual shingle tabs, called water gaps, are well-lined up while alternating shingle rows. The shingles also have to be trimmed in a neat line along the valleys. Shingles on roof ends have to be neatly trimmed too, aligning with the roof’s edge. Ragged lines indicate slipshop work and are totally unacceptable. The flashing at roof valleys and eaves have to be neat and free of tar.
If you’re impressed by what you see, talk to the references. For instance, has the roof ever leaked since it was installed? If so, did the roofer attend to your concern promptly? Were you on budget or in excess of it? Most importantly, would you have the roofer again for any potential future jobs?
Signs of a Good Roofer
After finding some really good prospects, see if they carry workers’ compensation insurance and at least $1 billion of liability insurance. If they tell you they’re insured, ask for copies of their proof-of-insurance certificates. Then request an estimate, which should cost you absolutely nothing. Because roofing is a one-time project, divide the total amount into two parts – typically, you have to pay one-third of it upfront (this will be used to purchase the materials) and the remainder will be settled as the project rolls on to your satisfaction.
Also insist on a warranty – usually one year – on all issues related to labor, such as leaks and flashing failure, plus the type of shingles they will use. Get the highest rated, most durable shingles that fit your budget. Sometimes, warranties are void if shingles are placed on top of existing shingles, so the roofer may have to remove that existing layer for an added cost. Asphalt roofs are generally good for about 13 years, so a 20-year warranty would be just great.