Minor leaks with the season's first rain. Major damage caused by an unseasonable storm.
Whatever your roofing needs, large or small, you need a professional roofing contractor you
can trust. A contractor who can provide you with sound advice on products, reasonable
explanations of procedures, and, most importantly - solid results.
It's difficult to determine the capabilities and reliability of a roofing contractor. That's why this
page was created--a simple, step-by-step guide designed to help you find the contractor
who's right for you.
Step 1: Where to Begin
A roofing system is a complex combination of elements, the success of which depends on the
quality of shingles, installation and overall construction. There are many ways to start your
search for the roofing contractor who meets your individual needs. Referrals are obviously the
best source for names of credible companies. Ask friends and family members who they have
used in the past. Contact your local Chamber of Commerce about roofing contractors who are
active in the community. The Better Business Bureau, state and local licensing authorities, local
trade associations and your local yellow page directory are also excellent sources of
Your insurance agent or adjuster is an excellent source.
Step 2: Meeting and Evaluating Potential Contractors
After you have compiled a list of possible roofing contractors, take time to evaluate each one
carefully. A professional contractor will be happy to provide any information you might
Many homeowners have been mystified by the seeming lack of interest and response from the
contractors they call. To get a roofer to respond to your call, let him/her know you are only talking to prequalified contractors.
A contractor is shopping for good jobs that will make a firm profit and bring future referrals.
Many contractors have had experiences with unreasonable or dishonest homeowners.
Therefore, they look for warning signs of customer problems during the initial job interview.
Set up a meeting to discuss your needs and their qualifications, and be sure to pay close
attention to the attitude of the company representative. Good contractors take pride in their
work and will be enthusiastic about the possibility of helping you with your roofing problems. If
you feel confident that the contractor is truly interested in your project, ask for the company's
vital statistics - specific business information which will help you make your final decision.
- Business Name and Address - A good, professional contractor will provide the
company's permanent business address and telephone number. These are essential
when checking on the company's previous business dealings.
- Experience - The training and experience of a contractor, as well as the age of his or
her company, will help you determine their ability to successfully complete your roofing
- Insurance Coverage - A contractor should carry general liability insurance. Request the name of the insurance carrier. Beware of low bids which are a result of incomplete insurance coverage.
- Professional References - Your contractor's past can help determine your future.
Ask for credit references, banking information and a list of completed projects including
the manes and telephone numbers of previous clients.
- Company Philosophy - Discuss application techniques and workmanship guarantees.
Does the contractor stand behind his work?
Step 3: Utilizing the Contractor's Product Knowledge
Your contractor should have up-to-date knowledge on quality products for your project. He
or she is the best source of information, but you should play an active role in the product
selection process. Ask questions about different shingles such as brand names, life span,
thickness, design, available colors and warranties. Selecting the best products is as important
to your job as selecting the right contractor.
Step 4: Consider Enhancements
Whether you're repairing a portion of your roof or replacing it entirely, now is the time to
consider related projects. Perhaps you need new roof vents, or gutters and downspouts. Even
more aesthetic additions, such as enhanced high profile hip and ridge shingles, or skylights,
should be reviewed. When done in conjunction with a roofing project, all of these
enhancements are more convenient and less expensive.
Step 5: Understanding and Negotiating the Contract
Prior to drafting a contract, most roofing contractors will provide you with either an estimate or
When a contract is presented, it should spell out the proposed work, prices and completion
time. Read the contract carefully. Misunderstandings are the most common cause of contract
- Building Permits - What's necessary? Consider local ordinances, costs, posting
- Start and Completion Dates - including a plan of action in case of weather delays.
- Products/Materials - what will be used, brands, colors, etc.
- Project Inspections - number of inspections, completion timetable.
- Site Procedures - work hours, clean-up procedures on the roof and around your
home, safety precautions, etc.
- Warranties - including both workmanship and product.
- Terms - detailed as method of payment to include a lien waiver upon final payment.
- Liens - You should be aware that under the laws of most states, a contractor who
does work on your home, or a supplier of materials for such work, has a right to place
a lien on your property. Make sure all essential elements of your agreement are written
down and understood by both parties.
- Right-to-Rescind - providing the right to cancel the contract without penalty within a
set period of time (usually three days).
Step 6: Sit Back and Relax
A little well-planned research up front will undoubtedly save you a lot of time and trouble later
on. Once you feel confident that you have the best contractor, the best products, the best
value - simply relax and let your contractor do his job. Do, however, monitor the progress of
your project to be certain your contractor lives up to his superior reputation.