You used to need a permit in New Jersey for roof replacement, but that’s no longer the case. While that may save a roofing contractor some time and homeowners the cost of the permit fee, it also removes an important quality control measure from the roofing industry. As a result, there’s a greater onus on homeowners to perform due diligence.
Luckily, Proven Contracting is here to answer all your questions about roof permits in NJ and how to conduct due diligence so that you end up with the contractor you deserve.
Since March of 2018, it’s no longer necessary to get a construction permit in order to install a roof on a single or two-family home. New Jersey’s Department of Community Affairs reclassified roof replacements as minor work and ordinary maintenance, which means that roof replacements are no longer subject to inspections by a state enforcing agency.
Contractors no longer have to go to Borough Hall to apply for a permit, and homeowners no longer have to pay between $200 to $500 for the construction permit application, depending on the size of the job. Neither party has to wait for the inspection either.
On the surface, this may seem like a win/win situation. Sure, some smaller towns may feel the loss of the permit fees more than bigger towns, but, overall, homeowners get their roofs installed faster and save money, and contractors save themselves a lot of trips to Borough Hall.
The catch, however, is that there’s now one less measure in place to prevent shoddy workmanship. It shifts the responsibility onto the homeowner to make sure they get a good roof installed and hire a good contractor. Performing your due diligence, quality control, and code enforcement can be difficult!
Luckily, Proven Contracting is happy to provide you with the tools you need to make sure you’re getting a good roof.
There are several ways to identify a good contractor.
Google business listings, Yelp, Home Advisor, and Angie’s List; if a company has positive reviews across multiple platforms such as these, then that’s a good sign that the company is trustworthy. Check the Better Business Bureau and the Department of Consumer Affairs as well.
Suppose a company has some negative reviews, but they resolve them. In that case, that’s actually a positive sign because the company has demonstrated a commitment to its workmanship and to correcting any mistakes. After all, there’s no such thing as a perfect contractor, so putting in the effort to improve is a sign of humility and dedication.
When you work with a contractor with a track record of success in your area, then it becomes much easier to verify the quality of someone’s work when you ask for references. Sure, someone could be a great roofer out in PA, an hour-plus drive from where you live. But if you live in Point Pleasant, NJ or Manasquan, NJ it means more to work with a roofer who already has worked in your town, worked on homes whose owners you might know, or maybe even worked on your street.
You’d be surprised how many contractors skip out on the initial in-person meeting. That right there helps you weed out a bad roofer! When your contractor does arrive, make sure they’re in uniform and using a company truck. They’re at your home as a representative of a company and should act and dress that way.
Be wary of salespeople who are more interested in closing a deal than in getting you a good roof. In New Jersey, you can get a second layer of shingles if you want, although Proven Contracting usually advises against it. A third layer of shingles is illegal. It used to be the responsibility of the construction code official to deny a third layer of shingles a permit, but now it’s on either the homeowner or the contractor to veto a third layer of shingles. If a homeowner doesn’t know any better, a contractor could sell them an illegal installation. Proven Contracting would never do that.
Make sure you get a detailed estimate of how much it will cost to install your new roof. You don’t want an estimate that’s only a number; you want an estimate that’s detailed enough that you can ask about specific fees and that can be used to compare with other roofers’ estimates.
There are questions to ask a roofer to help you identify the right contractor for the job.
There are several ways to pay for a roof with no money, and one of the most accessible is through financing offered by your contractor. Ask your contractor if they offer financing even if you don’t need it because being able to offer financing, which Proven Contracting does, requires meeting criteria that in and of themselves are signs of a good contractor.
Having a manufacturer’s certification isn’t only good for business; it’s a great sign that the contractor you’re working with is reputable. GAF is one of the largest manufacturers of roofing materials in North America, and they’ve awarded us their Master Elite® certification.
Like financing, earning Master Elite® status from GAF requires meeting strict criteria.
Offering “no money down” means that your contractor is confident enough in their crew that they can get to work without needing money up-front. They believe they’ll be able to execute every line item of their contract, get paid by the time they finish and have a satisfied customer.
You want your contractor to be licensed and insured in your state to perform the work you want. You’re highly liable for contracting because of how serious the accident could be if one happens. You’ll also want to confirm the insurance to make sure it’s still active.
Having a dedicated supervisor on every job is important because you have someone you can communicate with and someone who’s providing quality assurance. The supervisor will also respond to any unforeseen changes to the project, keep things rolling smoothly, and update you as needed.
Make sure that the crew that the contractor employs is the same crew they work with regularly. You want people working on your roof who are used to working together and who are used to being on a roof. You want a team that’s a well-oiled machine!
Being in business for a long time is an achievement in any field. In roofing in particular, being in business for a long time means you’ve honored your contracts and warranties. If your contractor has been able to maintain a positive reputation for a long time, that’s a positive sign.
The best weather conditions for installing your roofare between 50°F and 80°F. When it’s more than 85°F on a roof, it can feel like 130°F because shingles are a beacon for heat. The crew is at risk of heat exhaustion, heatstroke, or dehydration. At high enough temperatures, shingles become too hot to even lift without gloves, and the fiberglass on shingles can come right off.
Similarly, if the temperature is too low, then the shingles can become brittle enough to damage, and fingers can become too cold to maneuver adroitly. Finally, shingles are installed using both nails and an adhesive activated by the sun’s radiant heat, so on a day that’s too cold, the adhesive will not be activated (although the adhesive will activate when it’s warm enough).
We don’t send our crew out when it’s too cold or too hot for these reasons.
When asking for local references, ask for any upcoming jobs or recently completed jobs so you can see the work and crew in person. There are certain things to be on the lookout for to make sure you’re working with a good contractor.
As we said, you want your contractor to work regularly with the same crew so that the result is a well-oiled machine. But what does it look like when it’s not a well-oiled machine?
Cleaning up the yard after a job isn’t going the extra mile; it’s doing the job! There should be no debris, nails, shingles, cans, or garbage in the yard.
Flashing is thin material, often galvanized steel, that roofers use to get water away from areas prone to leaks, like chimneys. Flashing is very important. If the flashing hasn’t been replaced then, that’s a red flag. Installing flashing takes time, skill, and special equipment, which makes it costlier. It’s one of the parts of the job that might get skipped if your contractor is careless, inexperienced, lacking the right tools, or trying to cut corners.
In homes, there are pipes that carry exhaust out through the roof. These pipes are made either of copper or, in the case of newer homes, PVC. Pipe collars are placed in the area where the exhaust is vented to prevent leaks. Pipe collars, like flashing, are another important step that may be missed by inexperienced roofers or skipped by plumbers trying to cut corners.
Sure, a nail gun can install nails very quickly, but installation should still be carefully done. A trustworthy roofer would simply remove an improperly installed shingle and replace it with a correct one. Exposed nails shouldn’t be visible.
Roof inspections may no longer be an issue in New Jersey, but now you can perform your own quality control by knowing what to ask your roofers and how to spot poor workmanship.