15 Steps to Choosing the Right Roofing Contractor


15 Steps To Choosing The Right Roofing Contractor For Your Home

When it comes to replacing a new roof on your home, how do you know that you are choosing the right contractor to do the work? How do you weed out the bad ones?. We have compiled an ultimate guide in order to help you choose the right roofing company for your roof and avoid the pitfalls that come with choosing a bad one. As a local roofing company the Albany, NY area, we have come across many cases where homeowners have paid for a full roof replacement only to be left with leaks, unfinished work, or not even having the roofing contractor show up to do the work after getting payment up front. This ultimate guide can help you navigate through your roof replacement process and ensure that you have hired the right roofing contractor for your home.

"If you think hiring a good roofing company is expensive, try hiring a bad one!"

1. Always Hire Local Roofing Contractors

Although a key factor, this one is often times overlooked. Hiring a local roofing company allows for you to easily check the company's reputation within the community, and ensure that the company backs up up its workmanship warranty if a leak does occur down the road. If you hire an out of town roofer, chances are, they will not come back for warranty work, and if they do, you may be waiting for a while. If an emergency occurs, how quickly do you think an out of town company will respond? Things like business insurances, licenses and references can also be more readily available for a local roofer vs. an out of town roofing company.

You may have heard the the term "storm chasers" being thrown around or have even heard some horror stories involving them. These are typically construction companies that will come into an area that has been recently hit with a major weather event. They try to secure as much work as they can, do the work, or most of it and then go on to chase the next storm in a different area. The problem with this is that there is no warranty of any kind, they will not be around if anything happens, and the workmanship is often sub par. Ultimately, it is always a good idea to hire local contractors to help your own community prosper and thrive economically.

2. Reputation And Credentials Are Key

Nowadays, you can easily perform a Google search for any potential roofing company to see the reviews customers have left the company. Were the customers satisfied with the work completed? Was the cost within range of other competitors? If something did go wrong, how did the company handle it? Or did they handle it at all? Be wary of any company that has no online presence and is not able to present references to you from other customers within a reasonable amount of time. Ultimately, you want to hire a reputable roofing company that stands behind their reputation as well as the work they do.

There are multiple resource websites online that specifically collect customer reviews for contractors. Some of these sites include Angie's List, Home Advisor, Thumbtack, BBB, Yelp, Facebook, as well as others. A simple google search with the "roofing company name" + "reviews" will show you all of the results found on all of these sites for you to easily review. Although positive reviews are great for any company, it is also good to look at the negative reviews to see how the company handled them. Was there any follow up? Was the problem resolved? Do not be afraid to bring them up during your appointment with the contractor to see what their reply is. You have every right to interview the contractor and ask any questions you deem necessary. After all, they are there to win your business!

3. Price Vs. Value - Cheaper Is Not Always Better

When it comes to getting a price on your roofing project, going with the lowest price is not always the best option. The roof on your home is a crucial barrier between the interior of the home and the outside elements. If you are getting a price quote that is too good to be true, most times it is! You want to ensure that your roof is properly installed using quality materials. You also want it to be backed by a reliable company that offers great service and communication to its customers. If you have received multiple quotes and they are similar in price, compare apples to apples. What types of materials are the companies offering? What type of workmanship warranty?

There are people that will do work cheaper on the side, but most times the trade off is that you are not getting a warranty of any kind, and chances are that the person will not have all of the necessary insurances that will cover them as well as your home. You can always find someone do do the work cheaper, but at the end of the day, you get what you pay for.

4. Insurance, License & Permits

It is crucial for any roofing company to have their own workers comp and liability insurances. The liability insurance protects you as a homeowner. If a window is broken, a deck is destroyed, or the interior of your home is damaged, the liability insurance protects you as the homeowner. The workers comp, on the other hand, protects the employer and the employees if there is an accident that occurs on the job where the employee is hurt. Reputable roofing contractors will always have copies of both insurances on hand to show you.

As licensing requirements vary from state to state, you will want to again, do a simple Google search to see if your state requires a license. As a roofing company operating locally in the Albany, NY area, we do not have a license since New York does not require roofing companies to have a roofers license.

One important question to also ask if wether the contractor is able to acquire the roofing permit from your town or city. Most times, workers comp and liability insurances are required by the town in order to apply for a roofing permit. There are many towns that do not require roofing permits so it is always a good idea to find out from your town before having roofers come out to give you quotes. If a roofing company tries to skirt the required permits or tries to have you pull them yourself, it may be a sure sign that they want to avoid paying the $50 - $200 permit fee or simply don't have the proper insurance to get the permit issued.

5. Warranties - Manufacturer Vs. Workmanship

It is important to understand the difference between manufacturer and workmanship warranties. In order to sell you the roof replacement, many companies will tell you that you are getting a "lifetime warranty" but they fail to mention that it is a "limited lifetime warranty" filled with a lot of fine print that many times voids the warranty if the home is sold, or if certain installation criteria is not met at the time of installation of the roof itself. One thing to realize is that although the roof has a limited lifetime warranty, this most times only covers the materials, and not the labor.

This is where the workmanship warranty comes in to the picture. A workmanship warranty, typically three, five, seven, or even ten years at times covers the roof if anything happens and the roofer has to come back to fix the roof. While the limited lifetime warranty takes care of the materials, the workmanship warranty will take care of the labor cost involved. It is always important to have a workmanship warranty if anything leaks after the installation of the roof. Even if all of the correct installation procedures are followed, leaks may occur. If a roof does leak, it tends to be fairly soon, usually during the 1-2 year period after the roof is installed, or once the lifespan of the roof is at its end. As a homeowner, you want to protect yourself as well as your home from any type of liabilities. Ensuring that a roofing company is properly licensed, insured, proper permits issued, with both warranties can help you avoid an uncomfortable situation as well as save you money on not having to pay out of pocket if anything goes wrong during the process of the roofing project.

6. Experience Is Worth Its Weight In Gold

There is a level of knowledge and expertise that can only be learned through years of experience in roof installations using a variety of roofing products. Every home is unique in that every roof is different. Home additions, roof valleys, chimneys, dormers and different pitches present different problems. If not handled properly with the right installation using the right products specific to the job will result in leaks and will not maximize the life of the roof. Try to ask questions about your roof to see if the person giving you the roof quote is knowledgable about the products they use and the installation process as a whole. You also need to ask how long the roofing company has been in business and if they are in good standing within the local community.

7. Get Multiple Quotes

Getting two or three roofing quotes can help you understand what prices are being charged locally for roofing services and give you options. As you are getting the quotes, you will get a chance to compare each roofing contractor. Are they prompt and professional? How are they with communication? Are they knowledgable in their area of expertise? Are you comfortable with having them do work on your home?

8. Dealing With Insurance Work

If your roof has been damaged due to wind, storms, hail, etc., it is always helpful to have a roofing company represent you in dealing with the insurance company. A reputable roofing company can help maximize your claim by tarping an active leak and meeting on site with the roofing adjuster to identify all of the damage areas. They can also help you with all the necessary paperwork to make sure you are getting a fair payout to cover the work on your roof.

If a roofing company offers to pay or cover your deductible, do not hire that contractor! Offering to pay or cover your deductible is insurance fraud and any company that suggests to do this is putting you as well as themselves at risk!

9. Quality Of Roof Materials

It is important to understand the types of materials that will be getting installed on your home. Are you getting 3 tab or architectural shingles? Regular or synthetic felt? Are vent pipes getting new boots? Will the chimney be re-flashed? Each manufacturer may have different lines of shingles with each line varying in quality. Each line may also carry a different warranty along with it. Any potential roofing contractor should be a certified installer of at least of the shingle manufacturers they install. This ensures that the contractor has been trained and screened for that specific product. Having quality products installed on your roof can help to maximize the lifespan of your new roof.

10. Accepted Payment Terms

Although every company has the right to set up their own payment schedules, paying everything up front opens you up to risk. It is normal for any contractor to ask for a deposit to secure the job. Materials need to be ordered, permits may need to be pulled and other costs may be involved with the roofing project before the job is even started. It is customary for a contractor to request one third, or even one half of payment up front. Having them request the entire payment up front, however is a big red flag.

11. Ask For References

If you have checked the reputation of the roofing company online and are still uneasy about signing the contract, ask for references. Sometimes getting feedback from previous customers will help sway your opinion one way or another in making your decision. If the salesperson cannot come up with a reference on the spot, you can ask them to email or drop them off to you in a reasonable amount of time. If they fail to follow up with you or do not send them, be weary of giving them your business. This either means that they have not been in business long enough to give you a reference, they simply do not have satisfied customers, or they are not good with communication.

12. Clear Communication Is A Must

From the initial phone call to follow up after the job is complete, communication plays an essential part of the roofing process. It is important to evaluate any potential roofer to see how they communicate within the company, with their suppliers and most importantly with you as the customer. Things like a phone call if they are running early or late, providing samples or information when requested, or even getting the roof quote to you within a reasonable amount of time say a great deal about the company.

Your home is one of your most prized assets. You want to be able to trust any company that will be doing repairs on it to get the job done right. Communication during every phase of the roofing process can help the process be a smooth one and leave you with the reassurance that your home is in good hands.

13. Don't Read Between The Lines

It is important to make sure that all of the work discussed and promised to be completed is clearly written down on the contract. A simple handshake or "take them at their word" agreement will often times lead to miss-communication between you and the contractor. Do not accept a vague contract that does not clearly state all of the work to be done, the materials to be used, length of warranty, as well as the price to be paid. A contractor may promise to use a specific product and switch it to a cheaper one during the installation. Making sure that everything is clearly laid out will avoid miss-communication and can be used as ammunition if the contractor does not hold up his end of the bargain.

14. Ask About The Project Timeline

Signing a contract for roofing work does not necessarily mean that the work will commence the next day. It is good to have a clear understanding on when the roofing contractor anticipates the job will begin as well as how long it will take. This is especially important when it comes to emergency leak repairs.

15. Go With Your Intuition

When it all boils down to it, you should always hire a contractor that you feel comfortable about. As the homeowner, you have the freedom to choose the roofing contractor that you feel the most comfortable giving your business to. If you have followed the key points about, you should have no problem finding a quality roofing company that will give your roof the attention it deserves.