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How to hire a roofing contractor

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For homeowners keeping up with regular maintenance is a chore in and of itself. Windows break, sidewalks crack and driveways may need resealing, those are facts of home ownership that don’t go away. Replacing a roof is once in a lifetime experience or possible twice and the job must be approached with a great deal of care.

Choose the wrong roofing contractor or the wrong materials and you can be saddled with costly repairs after the fact that continues as the roof degrades. Choosing the wrong contractor who has no local presence in your community can mean any problems incurred after the fact may not be covered under warranty or company that was chosen is a seasonal operation and the contractor can’t be located to make repairs or stand behind his work. We all know someone who has had this happen to them because they took price over quality when they had their roof replaced. When it comes time to replace your roof, there are some dos and don’ts when selecting a contractor to perform the work on your most important asset your home.

If your home isn’t experiencing problems that need to tended to right away, like leaks, missing or damaged shingles or standing water on the roof surface, you can take your time and do your due diligence to select a competent professional roofing contractor.

To start the selection process, you can to access your social network to find out who has had a roof replacement and what the outcome was. Look around your neighbourhood to see if any if the neighbours have had a roof replacement that you can inspect to get a sense of the quality in the workmanship that the contractor practices.

If your initial investigation hasn’t been successful you can consult the Internet or the yellow pages to find a roofing company. Their advertisements say they are the best company around using only the best material and they are dedicated to quality workmanship.

At this point, you might highlight three roofing contractors that you will choose to come over to your home to provide an estimate for your replacement roof. You never get a second chance to make a first impression and if the roofing contractors who come to review your needs couldn’t sit at your dinner table they might not be the best roofing contractor for the job. Pride in workmanship extends beyond the roof and a roofing contractor with a sterling reputation will see to it that his sales team represents the company as an ambassador that will set the tone for the job from start to finish.

When you have a roofing contractor come to assess your needs there are some important questions to ask, even before an estimate is performed. Does the company carry WSIB insurance, do they carry liability insurance, have they been in business more than five years, are they licensed, and have they done any jobs locally that would give them a reference?

At this point you have received positive responses from the roofing contractor, check his references and look at the work that he done recently. When inspecting a roof, you want see shingles that are straight, clean trim around edges of the roof and at roof ends the same clean trim also.

After a rigorous investigation of the roofing contractors previous work, check his references. Ask the customers if they would use the roofer again, were there any leaks and if so did the roofer respond promptly. Did the job come in on budget, if not were the charges justified. Did the roofing company damage any property like bushes or shrubs or the driveway during the course of job? Were nails and old shingles picked and discarded in a proper receptacle for disposal. Did the roofing company have a designated on-site supervisor who could answer your questions and address your concerns?

At this point, you have gained enough positive feedback on prospective roofing contractor that you are screening and it is time to make a decision. A reputable roofing contractor will provide a free written estimate that will include all details that are related to the roof replacement.

Material costs, labor costs, permit costs (if applicable), cleanup costs, they type of underlay to be used, flashing and shingles being used, what type of ventilation is being installed and warranties for materials and workmanship will be included in the estimate. If insurance or license information isn’t contained in the estimate, ask the contractor to provide current information to cover those concerns.

Also, in the written estimate you might want to include a condition for a small contingency fund. That will act a small insurance policy against damage below the shingles that needs to be corrected to help the roofing system work at peak efficiency. If costs that arise exceed the contingency funds, as a homeowner you can stay on top of the cost overruns and approve the increased costs as required.

Everything is falling into place, and the next thing that you want know from your roofing contractor is exactly how they will replace your roof. The first thing to find out is whether or not the roofing contractor will remove the old shingles and inspect the decking underneath for damage or will they shingle over the existing layer of shingles.

A reputable roofing contractor will strip your roof of old materials as they have become obsolete and look for potential damage may be lurking below the surface. Some roofing contractors will perform a visual inspection and tell the customer that everything is fine and that they will save money re-shingling the roof.

Find out if the roofing contractor will install a drip edge or edge metal to the underside of the shingle where it comes off the roof. This is a necessary addition to your roof replacement as it helps run water run off into the rain gutters the protecting the fascia and the wood on your roof.

Ask the roofing contractor how his crew will access the roof, will they use ladder stabilizers or standoffs to protect your gutters from the weight of the ladder leaning against your house.

Another concern that the homeowner should be aware of is where will the roofing company put the bin for refuse from the roof. Many times, bins were overloaded or dragged across the driveway when they were hauled away and that left the homeowner with a damaged driveway and the cost of repairs too.

The last concern to address is the weather. The weather doesn’t always cooperate when we need work done outside and what does the roofing contractor do when inclement weather prevents the job from being completed. Most, is not all reputable roofing contractors will advise their potential customers that they will lay a tarp or put plastic sheeting down to cover the exposed areas to protect underlay and decking from absorbing moisture. At this point, you can ask your roofing contractor what long range plans he has in mind should bad weather persist for more than a day or two and how he will keep in contact with you to advise you when they will be able to complete the job.

The last and probably the most important aspect to choosing a qualified roofing contractor is money. Never, under any circumstances provide a deposit for a roof replacement in cash, pay by cheque or credit card with a deposit that doesn’t exceed 30 per cent of the job with the balance due upon completion of the job.

Rosie Gaudet

You can also read online reviews along with talking with references. That way you will hopefully be able to make a more informed choice when hiring. Then you won't be stuck with a roofer that no one else liked working with. That could just cause issues for you.

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