A roof is one of the most critical parts of your house. When it’s time to pick a roofing contractor, you should do your due diligence to get the roof you deserve. It’s important to know what to ask a potential contractor and what answers you want to hear.
You’ll want to work with a licensed and insured contractor in your state to perform the work you’re asking for. You’re highly liable when it comes to contracting, especially with insurance. And if there’s an accident, it won’t be a papercut. Someone can end up hospitalized if, for example, they end up falling off a roof!
Call the governing body that issued the insurance and confirm that the policy is still active. Your contractor might have lapsed insurance, either by accident or intentionally.
When you get a certificate of insurance, it shows how long the policy is for. However, someone could cancel their policy, hold onto their insurance certificate, and present it upon request as if their policy is still active.
It’s important to know if there’s a dedicated project manager for each crew and ask questions about the crew. Is that your crew? Is it a crew you work with every day, or is it a subcontractor crew you’re bidding the work out to? If it’s just a random crew that happens to have offered the lowest price, then you’re not getting consistency on the backend, and there’s no quality control.
You’ll want to know how long your prospective contractor has been in business. The more time they’ve spent performing roofing work, the more storms they’ve weathered. Also, more of their work is out there to prove that their workmanship passes the test of time.
Knowing how long a potential roofing contractor has been in business will also give you insight into the company’s follow-through for their warranties and contracts. You wouldn’t want to deal with a contractor that’s opened up a new roofing company under a different name just so that they’re no longer bound to their service agreements. Similarly, you wouldn’t want a contractor that started a new company under a new name to escape a bad reputation.
If a roofer has been around for a long time, say ten years, and is a reputable roofing contractor, then that’s a lot of trust that they’ve earned and maintained over the years!
Discovering a contractor’s reputation is easier now than ever. Proven Contracting, for example, has 4.9 stars out of 5 based on 135 Google reviews at the time of this writing. That’s a lot of satisfied customers!
In addition to Yelp, Google, Angie’s List, Home Advisor, and more, you should also check the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to see if any formal complaints have been lodged. If a contractor has a C rating, they haven’t been doing a good job serving their customers.
While the BBB may sound like a government agency, it’s actually a private non-profit organization. If you want to see if anyone has lodged formal complaints with your local government, check your state’s Department of Consumer Affairs.
If a contractor has complaints against them with the BBB or elsewhere, and the complaints have been resolved, then that’s a positive sign. At the end of the day, there’s no such thing as a perfect contractor. We’re all human beings who make mistakes. But what separates a great contractor from just a good contractor is that great contractors know how to communicate and can take responsibility for their errors and fix them.
Mistakes are inevitable and happen in every industry. So, the true test of a company’s character and integrity is having issues and working through them. Good communication skills and the capacity for self-reflection are much better traits than being stubborn and stuck in your ways!
A bad experience can also turn into an experience a customer raves about. If a contractor makes a mistake and then reflects, takes responsibility, and resolves the issue, then that’s a great example of a contractor’s professionalism!
Having a manufacturer’s certification is a big deal. Proven Contracting has Master Elite® certification from GAF, one of the largest manufacturers of roofing materials in North America. According to GAF, “Only 2% of roofing contractors in North America are GAF Master Elite®.”
The criteria for earning GAF Master Elite® status is demanding, so if a company achieves this rank and holds onto it, then you know you’re dealing with a reputable contractor.
Only a Master Elite® contractor can offer GAF’s full warranties.
10-year workmanship warranty
Lifetime Warranty for GAF Shingles
25-year workmanship warranty
Lifetime Warranty for GAF Shingles
Being willing to do work for no money down is a sign of confidence in one’s business. It means the contractor has faith in their crew, that they’ll be able to execute every line item of their contract, get paid at the end of their job, and have a happy customer.
Not everyone has a roof replacement fund, so many of our customers are happy to learn that Proven Contracting offers financing. However, you should ask about financing even if you don’t want it because going the extra mile for your customers is a good sign. Being able to offer to finance also requires meeting strict criteria.
When a professional roofer is providing a roof estimate for a new roof or a roof repair, they should be leading with their best foot forward. If simply asking for a discount results in them lowering their price by $1,500 without changing the job’s quality or specification, then that likely wasn’t a contractor you’d want to work within the first place. They were taking advantage of you.
A contractor who’s willing to reduce the price of a roofing installation drastically isn’t going to discount the profit they’re making. Instead, they will find ways to cut corners, whether it be in the quality of the roofing material used or perhaps even by not installing things in general (like flashing or pipe collars). Or, the contractor may be using more affordable labor instead of an experienced crew.
Alternatively, the contractor may be more affordable initially, but then start overcharging later in the job. This may come in the form of fees that are tacked on after the fact or “discovering” that more work needs to be done than was first thought.
When Proven Contracting provides a roofing estimate, we’re pretty firm on our numbers because we know where we should be. What we’re offering is fair and honest. You can use our Roofing Calculator to generate a quick estimate.
A reputable roofer should be able to provide local references. You may be able to drive to roof installations that are happening to see the crew at work or drive by some finished projects in your town. Ask how long ago they worked in your town or community, and how often.
If you decide to check in on a roofing project that’s underway or just wrapped up, there are a few things you should be looking for.
A clean-up reveals a lot about how your contractor feels about their customers. If you’re finding many nails, shingle wrappers, and general debris like soda cans and cups, it shows that the company didn’t go the extra mile. Although, not leaving trash on your walkway, driveway, and yard shouldn’t even be considered going the extra mile. A proper clean-up is basic good contractor etiquette!
Shingles should be patterned consistently. They should not be in rows, wavey, or inconsistent. Shingles should also be installed in the method that’s appropriate given the sort of shingle it is. If the wrong installation method is used, then you might have leaks even if you have a young roof. Additionally, shingles come with installation instructions that say improper installation voids the warranty. So, you want to confirm the right installation method is used.
The “racking” method is the preferred route for some but not all types of asphalt shingles. For three-tab shingles, racking is the way to go. The racking method involves installing shingles straight up the roof, with joints staggered in the center of each shingle. It’s a vertical installation method resembling a brick wall where the seams are in the middle of every other brick.
The stair method is for architectural shingles. You overlap your shingles in a stair pattern.
You put down one shingle, and then the next one goes on top but six inches over. Then the next one goes on top but six inches over. And you repeat this for five courses, and then start over again. That way, there are no channels created where water can get through.
You shouldn’t see any exposed nails. While nail guns can install nails very quickly, installation shouldn’t be haphazard or sloppy. A careful roofer would remove an improperly installed shingle and put one incorrectly in its place.
For whatever reason, be it carelessness, inexperience, or lacking equipment, a contractor may not replace flashing, which is a thin material, often galvanized steel, that roofers use to move water away from areas prone to leaks, like chimneys. So, check your chimneys to make sure the flashing is new. Old flashing is a red flag!
Replacing flashing takes time, skill, and special equipment. Anything that resource-intensive is costly. However, flashing is worth the effort because it protects the most vulnerable parts of the roof.
Like flashing, pipe collars protect some of the roof’s most vulnerable areas. In a home, there are plumbing pipes that lead exhaust out through the roof. These pipes are sometimes made of copper or PVC if it’s a newer home. If a contractor wants to save some time and money, they’ll skip replacing the pipe collars. This is another red flag that your contractor is cutting corners or might just be an inexperienced roofer.
To begin with, when you show up at the site during an ongoing job, the crew you see and their vehicles should feature the branding of the company you’re working with. The team should also look like a well-oiled machine: no playing around, no joking, no unnecessary breaks, and no smoking. Everybody should have a task, with each team member serving a specific purpose. And you should be able to tell by looking at the crew that they work together every day. They should all look confident and comfortable on the roof.
You should also have a dedicated supervisor for your job to keep things running smoothly. There’s a good chance that, in the lifetime of a homeowner, a roof replacement will happen once, twice, or three times max. So, roof installation should be treated with the respect that it deserves.
When combined with our tips for identifying a good contractor, these questions should make you far more likely to find the contractor you deserve. The effort will be worth it since a good roof will save you money in the long run by protecting your home and by being more energy-efficient.