5 Questions to Ask Your Roofer

Submitted a year ago
Created by
Jeff Acker

Here's what to ask and why you should ask it before diving into this big-ticket project.

Thinking about a new roof for your home or business? Here are five questions to consider before you hire a contractor.

1. Is your contractor local and engaged in the community?  A contractor with deep local ties is more likely to honor their obligations, especially in a close-knit place like the Upper Valley where a poor review will circulate quickly. Most roofing warranty issues and repair calls relate to the workmanship, not the product (and despite manufacturers' efforts to convince you otherwise, roofing products are very similar. There is no great difference in performance from one shingle to the next). Once your roof is on, your best tool is the contractor's promise to fix any problems that crop up.

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I tell my crews that we have to pass the "grocery store test."  I never want to find myself ducking down aisle 4 to hide from a disappointed customer strolling down aisle 3. I also call this the "sidelines of the soccer field test", the "out to dinner" test, and so on.

2. Is your roofer a roofer?  Do they run a professional roofing organization with ties to the industry, membership in trade groups, continuing education, and training for their crews, knowledge and experience with new trends, products, etc? Can they tailor a roofing solution specific to your home, or do they only install one type of roof? The roofing business has low barriers for entry - anyone with a ladder, a hammer and a pickup truck can pass themselves off as a roofer.  You don't want the proverbial "hammer happy goof on a roof."

3. Does your roofer have year-round, full-time employees?  Year-round, full-time employees represent  a significant expense, so a full-time, year-round roster indicates your contractor is committed to the business long-term.  Year-round, full-time employees are more likely to be invested in the success of their employer, making them less apt to take short cuts that reflect poorly on the company. Good employees understand that a rising tide lifts all boats, and good managers work to promote that type of teamwork-focused company culture.

4. Do they have proof of insurance?  A legitimate contractor should have their insurance coverage certificate at the ready. The certificate should come directly to the homeowner from the insurance agent and should show liability, auto, and worker's compensation insurance.  It costs nothing for a contractor to have their agent provide it, and it is the only guaranteed way to verify insurance coverage. If a contractor balks at providing it, run, don't walk!

5.  Finally, let's debunk a standard question - do you have references?  Ask the question, make a few calls, but don't let that be the sole factor in who you decide to hire. Don't assume two or three glowing references  - which could come from anywhere - indicate a legitimate, qualified contractor.

Instead, read reviews on sites like Angie's List, Yelp, Google, and the Better Business Bureau.  Don't be put off by one or two negative reviews, but don't be afraid to ask your contractor about what happened in those situations to get their side of the story. We all know that one person you just can't make happy no matter what, and the internet gives them a huge megaphone. As a good rule of thumb, look for five to ten positive reviews for every negative review.

This blog was written by Jeff Acker and sponsored by HP Roofing.

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