Installing a new roof is one of the biggest, and most expensive, projects you'll have as a homeowner. Since your roof is the first line of defense for your property against the elements, it's extremely important that you hire the best roofing installation company possible. There are lots of roofing contractors, so it's important to follow a few basic rules when finding, choosing, and ultimately hiring a professional, licensed roofing installation contractor.
Rules for Hiring a Roofing Contractor
1. Interview Several Contractors
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 Credentials
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. Review the Contract and Warranties 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. Make Sure to 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. Never Pay the Entire 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. Check 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 and Registrar of Contractors. 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.
Roof Installation Companies
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 Replacement Contractors
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.
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 Mikku and Sons Roofing and Repair a call at (623) 465-1068.