What you should know . . .
A new roof & even repairs can be an expensive proposition and it would be wise to spend time evaluating the roofing contractor before awarding your contract. Here are some things to look for:
The Contractor – Make sure they have a permanent place of business with a shop for making needed sheet metal flashings. They should have an office, telephone number, a tax ID number and business license.
History – How long has the company been in business? More than half of the roofing companies fail within five years, so if they have been in business for a long time they must be doing something right. Make sure the Better Business Bureau has no complaints filed against the company. Get the address of two or three completed jobs of the type you are considering and check them out.
Financers – Call local roofing suppliers. If the contractor is on a cash only basis – watch out! Remember if he collects your money and he doesn’t pay his supplier you can be held liable for the cost of the material by the supplier.
Insurance – Be sure the contractor carries liability insurance or you may be held responsible if anything goes wrong.
Worker’s Compensation – Make sure your contractor has Worker’s Compensation and it is paid up. His insurance carrier can provide you with a certificate. If he does not have Worker’s Compensation paid up to date you could be liable for any on the job injury.
Safety and Education – Choose a company that emphasizes safety and education, not only what they learn on the job but also in a classroom situation where they are constantly taught proper safety and installation procedures.
Price – Be very skeptical about the lowest price. In roofing, probably more than any other trade, that old saying “you get what you pay for” is probably true. Low bidders are often uninsured, do substandard work, and will be unavailable if there is a problem after the work is complete.
Written Proposal – Insist on a written proposal unless the amount of work is very minor. Look for a complete description of the work, what material will be used, terms of payment, etc. Make sure all details are covered. Be very leery about hand written contracts that are not complete or clear.
Supervision – Have the contractor explain who will supervise your work and what his qualifications are.
Extras – Does the contract include protection of the surrounds and is cleaning of the gutters and removal of all debris stipulated? Is there a note listing any possible extras that cannot be anticipated?
Products – Make sure you are getting a quality product. Most products have substandard grades that are available at a cheaper price. Again, “you get what you pay for.”
Approved Installers – Some manufacturers are only interested in sales and are not concerned with how well the product is installed. A few manufacturers are more concerned with their product’s reputation and they have designated approved installers who have gone through their training program. Often these companies will not issue a warranty unless an approved installer has been used.
Product Warranty – Make sure the contractor provides you with a product warranty when applicable. Without this warranty you may have no recourse against the manufacturer if the product fails.
Workmanship Guarantee – Approved installers guarantee that their work will meet or exceed all state and local standards and will be installed in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations.
Payment – It is not unusual today for a contractor to ask for a down payment with a signed contract, typically this would be for approx. 1/3rd of the contract price. On a large job that stretches over several months, monthly payments for work completed may be expected. Never pay for more than the completed work and withhold at least 10% until the job has been finished.
Safety – The Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) – has issued strict safety guidelines that must be followed by anyone working on your residence or building. If the workers do not follow these safety rules they could be ordered to stop work immediately and to leave the job, even if the roof is open and rain is expected. The OSHA fines levied against the workers and the company can be very large and they have been responsible for putting several companies out of business. Make sure the company you use will be following OSHA requirements.
Permits – Permits may be acquired by the roofing contractor or by the homeowner. However, the roofing contractor must be sure all permits needed have been acquired before any work begins. If the necessary permits have not been acquired, the job could be shut down and penalties assessed.