If your roof has to be replaced and you don’t have solid roofing contractor recommendations from friends or relatives, chances are your friends will at least tell you someone not to call…because there’s no shortage of bad roofing stories…everybody has one.
When hiring a roofing installation contractor, finding companies online that have good reviews can be a lot of help in narrowing down your search.
There are many unqualified people, calling themselves “professional roofers.” Some knowingly take advantage of people, using poor materials and hard-sell sales tactics. Others do substandard work because they don’t have the skills and experience or they just cut corners. The problem is, most homeowners can’t tell when a contractor is cutting corners or doing things wrong. However, if you’re prepared with the right questions to ask and you familiarize yourself with the items below the we’re describing, you’ll be able to quickly disqualify many “scammers” from the start. You’ll be saved from lots of headaches, overinflated charges and wasted time because you’ll have the information you need to help you hire a reputable roofing contractor.
7 Things You Need to Know Before You Get an Estimate
- Shingling over existing shingles is bad.
- The possibility of needing new plywood decking needs to be taken into consideration.
- How to protect yourself against being charged too much for new plywood decking.
- What is the manufacturer’s warranty?
- The 2 types of insurance every roofer needs to have.
- Is your roofer using subcontractors or their own employees?
- How much deposit to put down and when
1. Don’t Shingle Over Existing Shingles
Don’t hire any roofing contractor that recommends shingling over existing shingles. If they recommend this, they aren’t interested in doing a good job. You can never know the integrity of the decking under the shingles without completely “ripping off the roof” – even if you can see the underside of the decking from the attic. It puts stress on your roof because of the added weight and there are too many potential issues that could be hidden under the old shingles. Don’t be swayed by saving a few dollars upfront because it will cost you more in the future when you have problems.
2. Do You Need New Plywood Decking?
A good roofing contractor will want to strip the roof down to its decking to make sure there aren’t any hidden issues. The price you’ve been quoted for the job could change after the roof is stripped down to the decking.
Once the condition of the decking is checked, your roofing company will could proceed in several ways:
- If the decking is satisfactory, it can be re-shingled
- If damage is minimal, it can probably be repaired
- If the decking is bad, it might have to be completely replaced. This could be the only way to make sure your new shingles stay nailed down securely. Nailing down into soft, rotten, wood is a recipe for disaster later.
Roof Installation Companies
3. How Much Will New Plywood For Your Roof Cost?
Once the roof work is started and the roof is open to the elements, if prices have not been agreed upon and stated in writing, your roofer will be in control…and you could be shacked when they tell you it’s going to be an extra $2,000 to finish the project. When your roof is open and exposed to the elements…that’s a poor position to negotiate from. In the roofing industry, the customer’s cost for the plywood is usually included in the cost of installation. It’s in the customer’s best interest to negotiate that price before agreeing to the job, otherwise you’re at the mercy of the roofing contractor. You could ask the contractor up-front, “what’s the best price you can give me on new plywood, if I end up needing to replace the decking?” The more you need, the lower the expense should be.
It’s important to know what brand of shingles will be used and what the manufacturer’s warranty is. Going with established brands like GAF, Owens Corning and CertainTeed is a safe bet. If your roof installation contractor is certified by a reputable manufacturer, it’s another indicator that they take their work seriously and will stand behind it.
5. The Right Insurance
When you meet with a roofing company, ask if they carry proper “roofing liability insurance” . Then ask them if all of their employees are covered with workers’ compensation insurance.
Here’s why this is important:
Liability insurance will cover the homeowner or business owner if the contractor does something that results in damaging your home or property. Workers’ compensation insurance will cover the contractor’s employees if they injure themselves on your property. Without “workers comp” insurance, the property owner could be liable to cover those medical expenses. If you get a yes on both types of insurance, ask the roofing contractor to fax or email you proof of both types of insurance with their estimate. Asking for proof of insurance is standard practice for serious roofing jobs.
New Roof Installation
6. Ask if They Hire Subcontractors
Always ask the roofing company if they use their own employees or if they hire subcontractors. One of the ways big roofing contractors are able to take on many roofing jobs at one time is by subbing out work to others. These subcontractors can be smaller companies or individuals hired from pools of roofers with different levels of skill and experience. Quality could suffer because it’s not the priority. Contractors that hire subs usually have shorter waiting lists and better prices, but beware…You really won’t know who is actually working on your roof and you won’t know if they’re properly insured unless you get proof.
7. How Much of a Deposit Should You Put Down?
Many roofing companies will require 10% of the total job cost to be paid upon delivery of the materials, which is usually the day the job starts. If a contractor does require a deposit from you to secure a commitment, if you trust them, we recommend no more than 10% down. A request of anything more for a roof replacement could be a red flag for you as the customer. A company without cash flow might not be around in the future. So if you ever have a warranty issue, you wouldn’t have any recourse.
There are many reputable roofing contractors doing great work and doing the right thing for property owners, but there are just as many that don’t have the customer’s best interest at heart. Now that you’re a little more prepared and have some insight, you’ll better know what to look for when hiring a roofing installation contractor.
For your free estimate, give us a call at (623) 465-1068. Here at Mikku and Sons Roofing, honesty, integrity and our customers best interests are always top of mind.