A new roof is a major investment, so before you hire a roofing contractor, it pays to ask a few questions. Getting estimates from contractors is the easy part, but the contractor who promises to get the job done the fastest and cheapest, isn’t always the best choice. When you’re looking for a reputable roofing company, a few questions, and a little sleuthing, will ensure that you get the best roof for your money.
1. Contractor References
You know you’re supposed to ask for a contractor’s references, but most contractors offer a list of only those customers they know are satisfied with their work. Instead, ask for a list of the contractor’s last three clients. It’s important to talk to recent clients because their experience is a good indicator of what you can expect. In addition, ask the contractor to provide references from at least two clients with roofing projects that took place three or more years ago. These clients can give you better idea of the long-term quality of their roofs and how the contractor handled callbacks.
2. How Long Has the Roofing Contractor Been in Business?
Just because a contractor is the new kid on the block doesn’t mean that the company is substandard, but in the roofing business, longevity is a good indicator of quality and service. A company can’t stay in business for 20 or 30 years, unless it develops a strong and trusted customer base.
3. Proof of Insurance
A roofing contractor should carry commercial liability insurance to protect his clients from unforeseen events that can occur during the project. Many contractors will include a certificate of insurance when they submit their proposal. If not, ask to see a copy of the contractor’s policy and call the phone number on the policy to see if it’s still in force.
4. Manufacturer Qualifications
The manufacturers of some roofing materials require special training and/or certification before they allow a contractor to install their products. Ask the contractor which roofing products the company is qualified to install. In general, the more roofing products a contractor is qualified to install, the better your odds are of getting the best product for your roof.
5. Manufacturer’s Specification Sheets
Ask the contractor if he supplies copies of the manufacturer’s specification sheets. These sheets contain the proper installation methods and detail what types of fasteners, adhesives or other materials are compatible with the roofing product. The specification sheets serve as a valuable reference for inspecting the roof in the future.
6. Get a Copy of the Manufacturer’s Warranty
Ask the contractor to provide a copy of the manufacturer’s warranty for the roofing materials. Not only does this warranty let you know your rights concerning a defective roofing product, it also details circumstances that can void the warranty. For example, not performing regular preventative maintenance or using the wrong type of fasteners or adhesive could void a manufacturer’s warranty.
7. Contractor’s Warranty
Does the roofing contractor offer an additional warranty? If so, find out how long the warranty is in effect and what it covers. Reputable contractors offer workmanship warranties that cover issues arising from installation methods.
8. Scope of Work
What is the contractor’s scope of work? Can the company offer you a variety of roofing options? While it might be counterproductive to hire a roofing contractor that performs numerous other services, such as pouring concrete, installing swimming pools or laying carpet, it’s in your best interest to find a roofing contractor that can offer a variety of roof-related options. Does the contractor offer solar solutions? Will you have a value-engineered roofing system?
9. Will Subcontractors Perform Some of the Work?
Some roofing companies handle the entire project, but other companies depend on subs to perform specific jobs. If the company uses subcontractors, ask for each sub’s contact information, certification, proof of insurance and references. The roofing company should submit subcontractor bids as a part of the larger proposal. If a subcontractor will be used, will the contractor manage the crew on-site?
10. Maintenance Program
Find out if the roofing company offers a preventative maintenance program. Regular inspections and upkeep protect the life of your new roof by identifying and fixing potential problems before they require major roof repair.
11. Worker Knowledge
How does the roofing company train its workers? Do new hires go through a probationary period while they’re learning? Does the company train its workers in OSHA safety procedures? Are the workers skilled in installing the type of roof you want? Adequate worker training is essential, not only for a high quality roof, but also to reduce the risk of injury to the workers and to anyone else in or near the work zone.
12. Inspecting for Quality
How does the contractor ensure quality workmanship? Building codes determine some types of inspections, and depending on the regulations in your community, a building compliance inspector might come out and check the project at specific stages. It’s important, however, for the roofing company to have a knowledgeable expert on hand to exam the roof during installation and upon completion.
13. Industry Memberships and Affiliations
Find out what trade associations the roofing contractor belongs to. A reputable roofing company often holds memberships in a variety of trade and professional associations. These could be industry-specify, such as state and national roofing contractor boards, or they could be in related industries such as associations that serve commercial building owners or the owners/managers of shopping malls, restaurants, warehouses and other large-scale facilities. Memberships in a variety of associations signify the roofing company’s commitment to their client’s needs.
14. Is this Contractor a Safety Liability?
Ask the contractor to see a copy of their safety records. They should be able to provide a copy of their EMR rating as well as OSHA logs from recent years. A contractor lacking commitment to safety is a serious liability to your facility and should be avoided.
15. Is the Roof Edge Metal Code-Compliant?
If you’re installing a new roof system, you’re likely installing new roof edge metal too. Since the perimeters (edges) of the roof are most vulnerable to wind damage, it’s important the metal system you choose is ES-1 certified. If a contractor touts an in-house metal shop, make sure their designs, specifications and products have all been tested and approved to meet wind standards. Using an uncertified roof edge metal system is the quickest way to wind damage, which directly leads to water damage and roof failure.
Here at North American Roofing, your questions are always welcome. We understand that your new roof is a major purchase, and we want you to feel comfortable through every step of the process. Our business relationship with our clients is based on integrity, trust and a firm commitment to quality.