Selecting a Roofing Contractor

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Selecting a Roofing Contractor

Since all roofing contractors are not created equal, be sure to do your homework and find a company who is qualified, professional, competent,
and will not leave you with a leaky, unsightful roof.  Here are some tips and guidelines to help with the selection process.

Be sure they are well established and permanently located in your state. 

Check potential contractor's telephone number and tax identification number.  Make sure they have a Utah contractor's license, and a permanent place of business.

Proof of insurance

A professional contractor will provide you with copies of the companies worker's compensation and liability insurance.  If they don't, ask for it.  You absolutely need to have it before any work starts.  Also make sure that the insurance doesn't expire before your job is complete.  Check the insurance coverage limits.  The minimum required limits are not enough to cover most issues.  Make sure the contractor has increased their insurance to $1,000,000 - $2,000,000 coverage.  If a company is uninsured or under insured, you as the homeowner will be held liable if a worker gets hurt.  If there is damage to your home you will be left to pay for the damage yourself.   

Licensing

Roofing companies are required to have a state issued contractors license.  Be sure yours does.  You can check at http://secure.utah.gov/llv/search/search.html
(ours is under Shingle Pro Roofing Company)

Length of Time in Business

It can be risky hiring a newer company that is not well established. A company that's been in business for less than 10 years can be unstable and still learning how to do things, but everyone has to start somewhere.  Ask for references from customers and suppliers.  Suppliers are a good reference, if your contractor doesn't pay the material bill for your project, the supplier will come after you and lien your home.

Look at Online Reviews

Online reviews can be a good resource to read about the satisfaction of other customers that have used a company.  Carefully read the reviews to get a feel for if they are real.  It is a common thing for a company to have reviews that just don't seem right.  Also, they should be reviews for full projects, reviews for replacing a few shingles don't really give you a good idea how the company will do on a whole roof job.

Warranties  

Be sure the compnay offers a real warranty.  Any roofing materials manufacturer has some kind of limited material warranty that comes with the roof.... if installed right.  If a roof is not installed 100% correctly, the limited material warranty will be void.  These are not very good warranties.  They have too many limitations and don't guarantee the contractor's workmanship.  A contractor will have to offer their own 1-5 year labor warranty, which are too dependent of the contractor.  Make sure your contractor is certified throught he manufacturer, and all of their workers are properly trained and certified.  This will give you a much better warranty that should include a workmanship warranty backed by the manufacturer.

Estimate in Writing

Be sure you receive a detailed estimate in writing that clearly states the entire process of the project and all of the products to be used.  Never consider estimated from contractors you have not met.  Make sure all of the products have a complete description so you know exactly what you are getting.  This should be explained by the contractor in the estimating process.

Building Permits and Compliance with Codes

Most municipalities require a building permit for roofing.  Although it is not very common for most roofing companies to get permits.  Performing work without a permit can create so many problems, and leave you unprotected from poor quality.  Make sure the companies you are looking into have listed the building permit detail in their estimate.  Make sure they will actually get a permit and give you a copy of the final report at the end of the job.  A building inspector will look at very general code items,  not specific quality and looks details, so a permit doesn't guarantee a perfect roof.

Better Business Bureau 

Look up potential company on the BBB website to make sure they don't have unresolved complaints.

Quality Control

Inquire about how the job will be ran.  The company should have very competent foremen and workers.  A company with several crews should have a production manager who is an expert in the field and checks on all jobs.  A red flag can be when a company tells you your job will take one or two days for a large job.  There are companies out there who are a lot cheaper than quality companies and will have a huge crew come and blow your roof out in a day.  These projects are very poor quality and a waste of money when you have problems down the road, or have to redo the roof prematurely.  Remember that a really low bid means sub standard materials and workmanship.  Even if the bid is 30% less, do you really want to pay for another roof in a few years?  Cheap contractors often don't have the proper license or insurance, and certainly don't have professional workers that are properly trained in any way.  One of the biggest quality issues in roofing is how the workers get paid.  Roofing is a piece rate industry.  When workers get paid by what they do (piece rate) they are more concerned about going fast and a lot less concerned about quality.  Make sure your contractor pays his employees hourly, this wil ensure that they are in a quality frame of mind, not just trying to get the job done quickly, by cutting corners.

Solving Customer Complaints

In the course of doing many roofs, a contractor will inevitably have some complaints, find out how your potential contractor handles complaints. 
Ask the contractor if he has ever lost a job-related court case.  Ask if his contractor's license has ever
been suspended and why. 

Look at all variables 

Remember that a super low bid probably means sub-standard materials and workmanship.  Even if the bid is for half the price, do you really want to
pay for another roof in a few years?  Cheap quality contractors often don't carry liability and workers compensation insurance (that is how their
overhead is lower), and the homeowner is held liable for accidents on their property.  Do you want to pay for these potential accidents, or spend
time in court over them?  When you look at your estimates, take these factors into consideration.