After a damaging storm, it is best to rely on a trusted roofing contractor for sound advice about the products and methods that will be used on your reroofing project. A professional contractor will be committed to providing you with the best roofing system available.
Here are several factors to consider when judging the experience, reputation, and reliability of potential contractors:
Hiring a contractor with an office nearby can increase the likelihood of a quicker response time. If a post office box address is provided, ask for a full street address. Good companies with a regional, though not local, presence are becoming more commonplace, so don’t write off a company immediately just because they aren’t in your ‘backyard.’
In this case, longer is better. Fewer than three years of operation may signal an unstable or inexperienced business.
Obtaining references lets you double-check a contractor’s capabilities and competence, which is vital when dealing with a newer business. Request photos of completed work and references (names and contact information) from projects completed within the past 12 months. Having at least three references several will let you pick and choose, especially if some turn out to be non-responsive. Make sure to get addresses so you can drive by and check out some of their completed jobs.
Ask to see copies of both the liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance carried by the contractor — they should have both. General liability insurance protects you if the contractor causes damage to your home or property during the project. Without liability coverage, you may be responsible for any repairs or damages incurred. Workers’ compensation insurance protects you if a contractor is injured while working on your property. Without workers’ compensation insurance, you or your homeowner’s insurance may be responsible for the injured worker’s medical bills. General health, life or auto insurance held by your contractor doesn’t count.
Some states and cities require contractors to be licensed. As such, licensed contractors often have to pass a written exam in their specialty. A quick check with your local licensing authority will clarify which licenses are applicable to your region. A standard business license is a tax requirement, and does not speak to a contractor’s competence.
Ask a contractor about what credentials their company holds. CertainTeed offers credentialing programs for professional contractors to establish their business as a knowledgeable roofing company. While not a requirement for business, these credentials are an indicator of their degree of professionalism and commitment to their trade.
A credentialed roofing contractor will have years of experience installing roofs and will typically stand behind their work. Workmanship warranties, however, help protect the homeowner in the event of quick-to-surface problems with the workmanship. The manufacturer’s warranty is separate from the workmanship warranty – though some manufacturers will offer an extended warranty that covers installer workmanship if the contractor has taken special manufacturer training to ensure proper installation techniques – but both warranties work together to cover your roof system in most scenarios. Be sure to understand them both.
Read more: Understanding roof warranties
Storm contractor scams do exist, as storm-affected homeowners are often anxious and vulnerable. Here are ways to protect yourself from scammers:
- Ask plenty of clarifying questions. Don’t allow yourself to be confused by industry jargon or vague descriptions of roof damage. A good contractor will take the time to explain these things to you.
- Do your research on roofing contractors before signing anything or offering payment. Confirm a contractor has in-state references, a permanent office, a valid residential roofing license (if required by your state or local government), and a signed contract. Also, make sure they have an online presence so that you can read customer reviews and check their references.'
- Don’t fall for estimates that are too good to be true. If an estimate seems significantly low, ask about hidden fees and additional charges, and always get multiple estimates from different companies. Many professional roofing companies will give a free inspection which you can use to evaluate the original estimate.