First of all, not every roofing professional is a “Mr.” but we couldn’t resist the engaging theme for this blog about choosing the right roofing contractor! Actually, women roofing contractors are among the industry’s biggest movers and shakers. So, when settling on the best roofing professional don’t be surprised if it ends up being Mrs. Right!
Once, I knew a guy who was really into the finer things in life. He drove a Porsche Panamera. He drank Red Breast Irish whiskey and smoked real Cohiba cigars… the ones smuggled in from Cuba.
He was a generous guy and he had lots of people he called friends. He was quite the handyman around the house, although roof installation was, in a manner of speaking, above his pay grade.
When it came time for this guy to replace his roof, he picked out the finest product to complement his home, a “luxury” asphalt material reminiscent of slate. It was nice and thick like a cedar shake, too, and he knew it would add a wonderful texture to his roof. He wanted a product that would last for years and be worry-free. He was confident his new roof would withstand the high winds from tropical storm gusts and even the hurricanes that would occasionally blow through his suburban Miami neighborhood.
To get the job done, he obviously turned first to his “good ‘ol boy network,” as he did whenever he needed special services, from legal counsel to investment advice and now, roofing. Without asking many questions, he selected “Pete’s Do-It-All,” a Jack-of-all-trades that his golf buddy recommended.
Before long, everything was set. Materials were ordered and they looked fabulous just sitting there on pallets in his driveway. The installation began soon afterward and proceeded in a timely manner. When finished, he paid the balance of the job in full. Later that day, he walked out to the curb and turned around to get a good long look at his beautiful new roof. He seemed happier than a flea in a doghouse.
A few months later, April rolled around and it was a wet and windy one. That’s when the trouble began. Leaks. Why? Improperly installed flashing. The roof penetrations (vent pipes, skylight, attic vents, and chimney) which needed flashing and counter flashing had not been administered properly by good ‘ol Pete and his makeshift crew. There were open seams as well as overlapping materials which caused some of the asphalt tiles to lift and become vulnerable to moisture intrusion.
In the end, it didn’t matter that the homeowner had purchased the finest materials. He now had a huge and costly problem on his hands!
The Choice is Yours
1. Expertise and Recommendations
If you already know that your preferred roofer is qualified, fine. Maybe you have friends or coworkers who used the contractor and were satisfied with the work they did. GREAT! That’s a good indicator that you may have found Mr. Right! But try to seek out others. Compare contractor offerings and see if you feel a sense of trust and rapport with one of them. If your selected roof materials are special, such as slate, metal or clay tile, make sure the contractor has a solid track record with whatever the special material is. For example, metal roofs are often done by contractors with a depth of experience in metal roofing. If you picked out your special material from a manufacturer’s catalog, you can contact that manufacturer and obtain a list of recommended roofing specialists in your hometown, or see if such a list is on the company’s website. GAF, Atlas and Owens Corning all list their recommended contractors on their websites, as do many other manufacturers. For property owners, there is a free version of iRoofing’s phone app that lets you shop products from all major manufacturers’ catalogs. It’s the only comprehensive, multi-manufacturer catalog of its kind. If you get your heart set on a particular product, make sure your contractor can obtain it from his distributor. Not all products are available in all markets!
2. Ask Questions
If you’re hiring a contractor whose credentials are unknown to you, do some simple pre-qualifying. Find out how some of their recent past jobs turned out. Ask for references and contact a couple of them. “Did the contractor get the job done on time? “Were there unexpected extra costs?” “How did they handle the trash disposal and general clean-up?” Questions like these can help put your mind at rest and assure a job well done in the end. Also, take the time to review the company’s pitchbook. Most good roofing contractors will have a portfolio containing examples of their past work; information about their company and their team; before and after pictures; insurance coverages; the products they use; and testimonials from former customers. Today, many progressive roofing professionals carry iPads, Android tablets, and phones which contain their digital pitchbook along with a full set of digital software tools for remote, aerial and satellite measurement, estimates, new roof simulation, customer management, digital contracts and more. iRoofing is a software solution with these robust tools designed for roofing contractors.
3. “The Process”
Good contractors should be able to recite the methods they use for roof installation. Not all contractors will have the same approach and, while similar in most of the essential steps, each contractor will interpret their methods differently. Some will have taken the time to draft an outline of their process and include it in their pitchbook.
Roof replacement is a major job and it could amount to quite a high expense. You’ll really find it helpful when contractors take the time to educate you about their process, explain any issues found during their roof inspection, and explain why their estimate is what it is.
4. Certification… Some States Require It.
In addition to the required permits you’ll need for replacing your roof, 21 states require roofers to be licensed or registered. Normally requirements only apply to higher priced roof jobs. If your job isn’t too big or complex, it’s still a good idea to look into the credentials of your prospective contractors. Each state is different and sometimes counties also carry certain requirements for roofing contractors. Some state governments make it easy by letting you check online if a contractor is licensed, for example, the Arkansas Contractors Licensing Board. You may not be surprised to learn that the state with some of the strictest requirements is… you guessed it, California. The Eureka! state requires roofing contractors to hold a C-39 license. Roofing contractors must pass an exam administered by the state, but to even take the exam, a roofer must have 4 years of experience. Roofing contractors even have to get fingerprinted in California!
4. Look Locally
Part of your quest for Mr. Right-for-your-roof-job should be the company’s service area. It’s always preferable to find a company that does work locally. Some roofing companies are very large and have operations in multiple areas. That’s fine. The important thing is, have they recently completed jobs in your area and do they have a good reputation locally?
When terrible storms hit, roofing contractors may travel from far away to service impacted locations. Often the local contractors are overwhelmed and property owners are in need of immediate help. These contractors may even come in from out of state, so if considering one of them under urgent circumstances, as in the aftermath of a hurricane, it’s important for you to find out if they are licensed in your state.
The vast majority of roofing contractors are honest and extremely professional. But disasters can attract opportunists with shaky credentials. Some may claim to be “FEMA certified.” Don’t believe it. FEMA neither certifies nor endorses any contractor!
5. You Get What You Pay For?
I’m not suggesting that the lowest bid equates to the lowest quality products and workmanship. That’s not always the case. Just don’t be motivated solely by cost. Likewise, the highest-priced bid is not necessarily going to be the highest quality job. The important thing is that you’re getting multiple bids. Now you can compare the contractors across a variety of variables. You’ll know the materials they are including. Are they top-notch, adequate or flimsy and cheap? How long has the company been in business? Do they have customer-driven ratings or reviews on Yelp, HomeAdvisor, Thumbtack…? Maybe your lowest bid satisfies your criteria for quality and craftsmanship. If so, go for it! Maybe the highest bid you received included the best materials, plus, the contractor provided an impressive sales presentation including their diligent installation process. Many of the best roofing professionals use measurement and estimating software. They can present details of the proposed job via their portable tablet or even their mobile phone. They can simulate how the new roof will look using pictures of your home. The newest roofing technology, like iRoofing, makes the entire project a better, more convenient and more informed experience for homeowners. No other structural aspect of your home is more important than a high-quality roof and its proper installation, so do all you can to find your Mr. (or Mrs.) Right!
6. Get It in Writing
Maybe Mr. Right’s nickname should be Mr. In-Writing because a good contractor should give you a roof replacement estimate in writing. Some contractors have a fee for a written estimate, which is sometimes applied to the final price of the project. If that’s the case, it’s not a bad thing necessarily, but it’s nice to know upfront. Read the fine print and, again, ask questions!
Likewise, insist on a written contract. Be sure it clearly states all tasks to be performed, the associated costs and the contractor’s payment schedule. If you’re spending a bunch of money due to the size or complexity of your roof, you might even want to show the contract to your lawyer or a friend in the construction biz, as there can be similarities in understanding the scope of work. It wouldn’t be a bad idea. Kind of like a prenup with your Mr. Right!
Many contractors will tell you they stand behind their work with a guarantee. Get that in writing, too!
The Roofing World is Full of Mr. Rights
Roofing Contractors and their hard-working crews are the salt of the earth! Ninty-nine percent of the time, the customer experience is a pleasure and the job is done well. Roofing contractors strive to be fair in every project they take on. Like never before, they know how important it is to deliver great work. In this Age of The Internet, contractors know that careless and faulty workmanship, poor material choices, or less-than-transparent communication with the homeowner could spell trouble in the form of bad ratings and reviews published for the whole world to see.