Questions to Ask Your Roofing Contractor
The process of repairing or reinstalling a roof can be a lengthy, expensive proposition, and choosing the right roofer can be quite similar to choosing a doctor. You want to make sure you’re getting top quality for your money, and there are plenty of good roofers out there, along with a few bad apples. So you want to treat this as if you’re conducting a job interview. Below are some important questions to ask your roofer before you decide to hire:
1) What is the name and address of the company? - Try to hire a contractor that has an office near you. The likelihood of quicker service is greater if they are near your home.
2) Does the company carry insurance? - This refers to workers’ compensation and liability insurance specifically. If a worker is injured on the job and the contractor doesn’t carry insurance, you, as the homeowner, are legally responsible. Ask them to send you their certificates to you; don’t just take them at their word.
3) Is the company a licensed or credentialed roofing contractor? - Many state and local governments require roofers to be licensed and credentialed. Before you begin the interviewing process, contact your city or county clerk’s office and find out if there are any requirements for roofers in your area. Even if there aren’t, ask your contractors. A reputable contractor will have taken the initiative to obtain a license or certificate from another entity. Again, ask to see the certificates.
4) How long has the company been in business? - Every contractor had to start from somewhere, but longer is usually better. Don’t disqualify a new business if you get a good vibe from the contractor, but if everything else is equal, experience is usually better.
5) Will the company provide references or referrals from previous jobs? - Ask for a list of ten names and phone numbers of customers the contractor has worked with in the last year. It’s not necessary to call all ten, but pick two or three at random and ask the following questions: 1) Did he complete the job within the expected time frame? 2) Was he responsive when asked for information and changes? 3) Did he appear to care about the customer’s interests? 4) Would you call the contractor trustworthy?
6) What is the company’s workmanship warranty? - Some warranties last for one year, while others last longer. This is an important question because most roofing contractors will warranty the workmanship, and they will warranty the product as long as it is installed correctly.
7) What is the company’s track record for solving consumer complaints? - Try to find out how your roofing contractor handles problems when they arise. Request a referral from a job that involved a complaint. Find out if they’ve ever lost a court case or if they’ve ever had a license suspended. If you’re on the fence mentally, speak to the Better Business Bureau to find out if any complaints have been filed against the contractors you’ve interviewed. Most contractors who have been in business for any length of time have been involved in a dispute of some sort, but find out how the dispute was revolved. A little research into the contractor’s reputation will go a long way here.
8) Will they be using subcontractors? If so, what are their names and license numbers? - If a roofer does use a subcontractor, make sure you ask all of these questions: it boils down to reputation and (especially) insurance. Be sure that the subcontractor has insurance so that you’re not held legally responsible for any accidents that might occur on your property.
9) Is the contractor a member of a local or national organization, like the NRCA (National Roofing Contractors Association)? - Just like the logic in obtaining a license, a reputable contractor will take the initiative to stay up-to-date on current roofing information and stay educated in the field.
10) Who will haul away old roofing materials and/or project waste (e.g., extra
materials, packaging, etc.)? - Find out if there is an extra charge for this service. Hidden costs sometimes have a way of adding up if you don’t ask up front.
Once you have made a final decision on who you hire, be sure that you agree upon everything in writing; never settle for an oral agreement. Finally, do not pay in full until the work has been completed and there has been a final inspection. If questions come up during the project, make sure you talk to the contractor who signed the agreement: he will be the one with authority to make the final decision.