A new roof is a big investment that usually costs thousands of dollars. The materials you use will represent a small portion of your investment. Most of it swill go toward the skilled labor involved. That makes choosing an experienced roof installation professional the best way to protect your investment and ensure a proper job.
Simple, isn’t it? Unfortunately, roofing is an business that requires little more than a pickup, a ladder and some basic tools to get started, so you have to be careful and diligent in choosing the right one for your project.
If you can get a recommendation from a neighbor, friend or someone you know, its probably the best way to go. Gather the names of at least two prospects. Make sure each one’s been in business at least five years or more — roofing companies who do poor work usually won’t last that long.
Check the availability of your roofer. There’s no reason to waste time if they’re booked up for months. Make sure to get names and addresses of references, and forget about any contractor that balks at providing them.
Next, do a drive-by inspection of a few of their recent jobs. Visually make sure that the spaces between individual shingle tabs, known as water gaps, line up laser-straight as they alternate shingle rows. Make sure the shingles are trimmed in a clean line along the valleys where they overlap the flashing. On the roof ends, shingles should also be neatly trimmed so they align with the edge of the roof. Ragged lines mean poor work. Also look for neat, tar-free flashing at the roof valleys and at the eaves.
If the roofs look like they stand up to scrutiny, call their references and ask them these questions:
Guidelines for Hiring a Roofing Contractor
1. Interview More Than One Contractor
You need to interview several roofing companies so you can figure out an honest and reasonable price range that you’ll need to pay. You don’t want to make your final hiring decision based on a few hundred dollars for a project that could cost several thousand dollars, but you should be careful of any extremely low or extremely high estimates. This will also give you plenty of opportunity to build rapport and trust with the contractor you hire and to stick to the other rules for hiring a roof contractor.
2. Research the Company’s Reviews and Experience
Besides interviewing several different roofing companies, it’s also important to do some research on the contractor you ultimately choose to hire. Reputable, honest contractors will be licensed and willing to provide you with at least three references verifying they do good work. After you’ve checked your roofing contractors out and you’re satisfied that they’re legit, hiring a roofing contractor will be much less stressful.
3. Read Through the Contract and Warranty Very Carefully
Never sign a contract or agreement without reading it over very carefully. Professional contractors won’t be bothered by you taking the time to read through and understand the terms of your agreement, and most will be happy to sit down with you and explain anything you don’t understand. You also need to make sure you understand the warranty that comes with your new roof. All materials and workmanship should be guaranteed for at least 5 years, and the roofing itself ought to come with a 20- to 40-year warranty.
4. Cover Your Bases
Before work begins, make sure to cover your bases. Check with your contractor about whether you need to acquire a permit or not (most roofing companies will take care of this as part of their service), and make sure their employees are covered by workers comp insurance. Finally, if you’re submitting an insurance claim on your roof, make sure you’ve followed all the necessary procedures and had all work approved before work on your new roof is started.
5. Don’t Ever Pay the Whole Amount In Advance
Never pay the entire balance of your new roof upfront or in advance. This goes for any large project. If your contractor requires this, DO NOT sign the contract. Asking for a deposit as a good faith offering or a payment schedule that goes along with the work are fairly common and accepted practices. Either way, if you can, don’t pay with cash or check. Using a credit card increases the chances that, in a worst-case scenario, you can recover your money without going through expensive legal proceedings.
6. Call Past Customers for Reviews and References
Get at least 3 recent past customers and 3 customers from more than 3 years ago from the contractor and call them all. The recent ones will tell you about their current customer relations and quality of installation and the customers from several years ago will tell you how well they handle long term relations and customer service issues as problems arise, as they inevitably will with a new roof.
Also, check the company’s online reviews and rating at the Better Business Bureau. This should give you a good idea of any red flags the company may have with unresolved recent customers. Better to be safe now than sorry later.
Of course, there is no magic system for hiring the right contractor. To have us schedule a free, no-obligation consultation about your new roof, give Armadillo Roofing & Exteriors a call at (512) 333-7663.