As a homeowner researching new roofs, much of the information you’ll find online will provide you with the expectation that a new shingle roof will last you somewhere between 25-30 years. While this is technically true, a staggering percentage of roofs will fail in less than 10 years. The culprit? Poor installation.
No matter what roofing system you choose, proper installation and maintenance are the most important factors in ensuring your roof protects your home for the entirety of its life expectancy. Proper installation relies on the roofing contractor you hire, but knowing who to hire can be a struggle without knowing what questions to ask. To help you make more informed decisions when it comes to your roof, we created a homeowner’s guide to choosing the right roofing contractor that will provide you with the most important questions to ask to ensure the roofing contractor you hire will perform quality work on your home.
Preparation: Knowing Your Roof
Replacing or repairing your roof is definitely a job better left to the professionals, but knowing a little bit about your roof goes a long way in helping you choose a knowledgeable roofing contractor who has your best interests in mind. For example, understanding the impact of local weather conditions will allow you to know ahead of time what materials you should be considering and a rough estimate of materials costs. Additionally, if you understand the most common causes of leaks and how to prevent them, you can have a discussion with potential contractors to see how they address common weak points such as flashing or ventilation.
Knowledge is power, so before you begin speaking with roofing contractors we suggest checking out our Comprehensive Guide To Residential Roofing Systems, which will introduce you to all the major components, materials, and factors to consider, giving you a solid foundation to reference when reviewing their estimate.
Questions to Ask Potential Roofing Contractors
Narrowing it Down
- Do they provide free inspections?
In many cases, roofing companies will offer to inspect your roof free of charge, with no obligations. An inspection will often cover all roof surfaces, roof penetrations, and flashing, and upon completion contractors will provide a report and photos. However, other factors such as location, interior inspections, or inspections related to real estate purchases can result in an inspection fee.
- Is the company licensed and insured?
Hiring a roofing contractor that’s licensed and insured provides important protection for both the homeowner and the contractor, dispute resolution, and guarantees a standard level of industry knowledge. Many roofing companies will state this information on their website, but it’s always a good idea to verify their license number. Most states require proof of insurance in order to obtain the license.
- Is their license local?
License requirements vary from state to state with some locations requiring contractor licenses to be issued on a county or city level. When verifying a contractor’s license, make sure it’s valid in your city and that the name on the license matches the business name exactly.
Choosing Between Roofing Contractors
Damage to your roof, especially leaks, can result in expensive repairs if left unattended. At peak times, such as after a heavy storm, contractor schedules can get backed up for weeks or even months. Additionally, roof work tends to be noisy, which can impact your daily schedule, so knowing the length of the project, what hours they will be working, and whether or not those hours are flexible can be a factor in who you hire.
- Change Orders
A change order is any modification to the agreed-upon cost and scope of work of the initial contract. Sometimes, issues that are not visible during the inspection are discovered after surfaces are removed, requiring a change order. We recommend asking what their policy is on change orders, and what things might cause a deviation from the contracted price.
- Who will be overseeing the installation?
No matter how experienced an installation crew is, there should always be someone on-site to oversee the project and accept accountability. This is often a project manager, or in some cases, the owner. As well as overseeing the project, they will typically serve as your point of contact for the duration of the project.
Any roofing contractor you work with should be able to answer your questions quickly and efficiently, as well as provide written documentation and reports for inspections, contracts, and warranties. If issues arise, you’ll want to be confident that you can clearly communicate with your contractor in order to find a solution. Take note of your initial communications to see how quickly and thoroughly they respond. If communication is lacking during the sales process, it’s not a good sign.
- What are your clean up procedures?
Even small roof replacements end up with a significant amount of waste after removing old shingles and materials. We recommend asking if they will have a dumpster or trailer on site, where it will be located, and what measures they take to ensure it doesn’t damage your property.
- How will you protect my property?
The last thing any homeowner wants is to end up with subsequent damage from a contractor. Whether or not they use ladder stabilizers to protect your gutters, how they protect your landscaping if using a dumpster or trailer, and how they handle unexpected weather conditions all are important factors in keeping your property safe.
- Why do you think my old roof needs to be replaced?
If not covered by insurance, roof replacements can cost thousands of dollars. In some circumstances a roof replacement may be your best option, but other times localized repairs can keep your roof functioning properly for years. If a roofing contractor says you need a roof replacement, enquire why.
Payment and Insurance
- How is payment handled?
If you’ve never worked with a contractor before you may be confused about how payments are handled. Some contractors require no money down, while others require a certain percentage as the down payment and additional payments at set milestones. Some roofing companies even offer financing options. Knowing how they handle payments will allow you to budget accordingly.
- How do they handle insurance?
If your home is undergoing a roof replacement, it can be worth it to verify whether or not your home insurance policy will cover the costs. Many roofing companies have experience with insurance and can help guide you through the process. If insurance is an option, try asking how they can assist you and how the billing process differs when going through insurance.
Ask the Right Questions
Choosing the right roofing contractor is all about knowing the right questions to ask. By using these questions as a foundation, you can get a better understanding of what’s involved in repairing or replacing your roof, and tailor your questions to fit your specific requirements.
Feeling comfortable and confident in your roofing contractor will create a better experience and lead to higher quality results, so don’t be afraid to ask as many questions as you need!
If you have any additional questions or would like to speak with us about inspecting your roof, fill out the form on our contact page, message us on Social Media, or schedule your inspection directly.