Verify your roofer can answer questions about their location, insurance, and more
There is a reason people often use the phrase “a roof over your head.” Roofs are synonymous with the home, offering protection from the elements and security from the outside world. That’s why it is important to hire the right roofing contractor to conduct any repairs or replacements. But how can you know you are making the best choice before signing a contract? After all, a lot can go wrong with roof repair, which may cause more issues down the road.
The best thing to do is schedule a conversation with the contractor and get more information about their skill level, processes, and guaranteed deliverables. Ask these ten questions before signing a contract for roof repair or replacement.
1. What is your full company name and physical address?
If the roofing company uses a Post Office box, ask for the physical location. A roofing company that doesn't have a physical location is a cause for concern, and you should move on. As an added step, take that name and address information and plug it into the Better Business Bureau, social media sites, and other online databases. You’ll likely find any potential red flags during these web searches.
2. Can you tell me about your insurance?
Roofing contractors should have workers’ compensation and liability insurance to protect the homeowner in the event of an accident. Workers' compensation covers the homeowner in the case of a contractor injury, and liability protects you from damage caused by the roofers during repair or replacement.
Without workers' compensation insurance, the homeowner may be responsible for medical bills and other costs associated with the injury. In addition, your homeowners' insurance may not cover these types of accidents.
3. Do you have the appropriate license to do the work?
Ask the roofing contractor for license information in your state, city, and county, as licensing requirements vary by location. Ask for some specifics here, including the name of the license-holder. After that, check with your local licensing offices to ensure that the roofer’s license is up-to-date and free of outstanding violations.
A business license is not the same as a roofing contractor license. A business license is for tax purposes and identifies the company. It does not mean the person has passed a test or has the qualifications to work as a roofer.
4. Do you offer a warranty for your roofing work?
A roof warranty typically lasts for a year, but some roofers offer longer warranties. The manufacturer usually covers the materials, and the roofer covers the work. These are two separate warranties, so ask the roofer for the coverage and length of each warranty. As a warning, an extended warranty could add to the overall cost of your estimate.
5. Do you use roofing subcontractors?
Ask the roofing company whether they outsource parts of the job to a team of subcontractors under their purview. If so, make sure these subcontractors have insurance and the licenses to complete the work. You should also ask for the physical address and name of the subcontractors, running this info through the Better Business Bureau and social media sites to find any red flags. A reputable company should explain to you exactly what tasks they outsource to a subcontractor and why.
6. How long have you been in business?
Inquiring about the roofing company’s history is not the only way to tell if they provide good work at a decent price, but it certainly helps paint a picture. If your contractor has been around the block a few times, they will likely have plenty of customer references to hand out and multiple examples of their work for you to peruse.
7. Do you provide written estimates?
You don’t want any costly surprises when it comes time to pay the bill. The contractor should provide a written estimate that takes into account labor, materials, and anything else that may come up during the job. You can help improve the accuracy of this estimate by taking photos of any damage, writing down the size of your roof, and keeping tabs on project materials.
8. What do you do to ensure the project is on time?
Hurdles may come up that could impact the project’s completion time. The roofing contractor should outline contingency plans to address any potential obstacles that threaten to extend the roofing job. Do they have enough employees to pick up the slack in the case of an emergency? Do they have backup materials, tools, and supplies? What will they do in the event of inclement weather? Some contracts may even include a “no later than” clause, which renders it null if the job takes too long to complete.
9. How will you protect my lawn during this project?
Ideally, your lawn and landscape exterior should look exactly the same after the roofing job as they did before the job started. Ask your pro what steps they take to ensure lawns do not receive a beating. Some contractors institute mandatory foot traffic patterns, for instance, so the crew doesn't step on your bushes or cause ruts in your yard. Others ensure that heavy equipment rests on the sidewalk and not the grass.
“Ask your roofer what they do to ensure debris that falls off the roof isn't left behind during the process, causing injury to children or pets,” says Ezra Laniado, founder and president of Landmark Construction Crew in Los Angeles, CA. “Many roofers use a heavy-duty magnet to pick up any nails that end up on the floor around the house—find out if this is included.”
10. What do you do with refuse material?
The last thing you want to deal with after repairing your roof is a yard filled with junk and debris related to the job. Ask your roofer what they do with roof-related refuse material to ensure it gets disposed of properly. Most qualified contractors bring along a large refuse container—like a dumpster—for damaged materials, packaging debris, and anything else that needs disposal after finishing the job. This way, they’ll deal with the garbage, and you won’t have to.