For many homeowners, the most challenging part of updating your roof isn’t the work itself, but finding the right roofing company to handle the job.
Other home renovations such as updating your cabinets or installing new windows can be purely cosmetic, but roofs are different.
The perfect roof can make or break your home. However, a new roof can be one of the more expensive home projects you will have done. This is why finding the perfect roofing company is paramount.
If you’re thinking about getting a new roof, there a few easy steps you can take to ensure you find a trustworthy, quality roofer.
Hiring the right roofing company means your project will be completed on time, within your budget, and with quality products. Your roofing company should also consult with you on the right materials for your style and climate. No two roofing projects should be the same, and your roofing company should always provide a listening ear to your needs and concerns.
But with so many roofers out there, how do you find the perfect company for you? The first step to find your perfect roofing company is research.
Step 1: Do Your Research
While it might be hard to set aside some time to sit down and research your roofing options, this important first step can save you time and money in the long run. Have an idea of what you want before you make your first call. Does your roof need a repair or do you need a complete replacement?
For example, if a few shingles are missing, roofers should give you a reasonable estimate. If a roofer gives you an outrageous estimate for minor damage, or conversely gives a small estimate for a major replacement project, warning bells should begin to ring.
Educating yourself on each aspect of your roof will also make you a more educated consumer and less likely to be deceived down the road. Completing some initial research on your own helps prepare for any overzealous company that may try to inflate the type of service you need.
Keep in mind these resources provide a foundation for your research. The next step is to start finding reputable roofing companies in your area. Searching online for roofing companies allows you to check out their company website, read real reviews, and more. You can also check if they have manufacturer designations which are considered a sign of quality. Contractors must meet strict requirements to have these types of certifications.
Call Up Friends and Family
Opening up the phone book or doing a straightforward online search for roofers can yield an overwhelming amount of results. While you’re searching, ask for referrals from your friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers.
Asking your inner circle is a great way to narrow down options and get an honest opinion about roofers. For example, if you remember seeing a neighbor having roof work completed recently, ask them if they were they happy with the job and would they work with the same company again.
If no one in your personal circle has had roof work done recently, you can also reach out to your local hardware shop for suggestions.
Keep it Local
Always remember to keep your roofing company search local. This means the company has a local office, but is an established business. Some roofing companies keep a satellite office in certain locations, but are not rooted in the community. It is too easy for small satellite offices to move or completely disappear after a botched job.
Your local Better Business Bureau or Chamber of Commerce should be able to provide the company’s history and customer satisfaction.
Contacting these organizations is especially helpful if you are approached by “storm chasers” who roll into town right after a severe storm. Door to door roof salesmen are one of the biggest roofing scams in the industry. These companies prey on families who have just suffered serious damage. While there are trustworthy companies who canvass neighborhoods, your best bet is to contact you home insurance agent before signing any paperwork.
Step 2: Compare Your Available Options
After compiling your notes from your family, friends, and other research, you should have a short list of your top choices. You should reach out to at least three roofing contractors to ask questions and receive bids.
Schedule a Face-to-Face
You should call your top contractors to make an appointment to visit your house and give you a project scope. Your potential roofers should discuss with you what kind of work needs to be done, materials, and a rough estimate of how long the project will take to complete.
Now is the perfect time to see how your contractor treats you. Do they seem enthusiastic and ready to listen? Or do they seem rushed and impatient. Although you may not be a professional roofer, don’t ignore you best judgment when it comes to finding the perfect roofing company. Make sure this is an organization you feel has your best interest in mind.
Questions to Ask
Don’t be afraid to ask several questions. Your roof is one of the most important aspects of your home. Some questions you want to get solid answers on include:
- Do you have a stable headquarters? Some roofing companies don’t have a central location or conduct business out of a personal residence. While this should not necessarily rule out an otherwise good option, be aware it can be easier to contact a business if they have one stable location.
- Is your company insured and licensed? This question may seem like a no-brainer, but it is important to ask in case of accidents. Ask for copies of their insurance documents.
- How long have you been in business in the area? A roofing company that blew up overnight may not be a wise choice. In most cases, it is better to choose a contractor that has been in business for a while. Keep in mind that some roofing companies can exaggerate their years of experience so don’t be afraid to ask for proof.
- How do you handle complaints? This is an important question to see how they handle upset customers.
- How much of your work is completed by actual employees compared to subcontractors? Make sure your work is done by trained professionals and not causal help without the right experience.
- What are my material options? Your potential roofer should give you different options depending on your area’s climate and the style of your home. Your roof is one of the first aspects of your home’s appearance people notice so make sure your roof blends both design and function.
- What is a reasonable price estimate? Though your potential roofer may not be able be able to give you an exact amount right away, he or she should be able to give you a ballpark. Also ask about financing programs.
- What time of the day will do you normally work on roofs? Even the most conscientious roofer will have to make some noise. You should think about your schedule and also consider your neighbors when discussing a work schedule.
Don’t Let Prices be the Only Factor
Once you have met with your top roofing choices, it is time to select your roofing company and begin your project. While total price is an important factor, don’t let it be the only deciding factor. Like many things in life, you get what you pay for. A roof is not a part of your home that you want to take the cheapest route, especially since a high quality roof last for years. Going with the cheapest bid can cost you more in the long run.
Your previous research and talking with different roofers should give you a rough estimate on your cost. Extremely cheap bids affect your entire local market and undercut reputable roofers that must cover costs such as ongoing training and proper insurance.
Low bids often come from people with side business or just operate out of their truck.
If your bids are all relatively close, going with the lowest bid might acceptable. Pay close attention to what each company offers and make sure there aren’t any added costs or fees.
Sure it will be cheaper in the short term to hire the lowest bidder, but is it worth your peace of mind down the road?
Once you’ve found the right company with the right price, it is time to sign your contract and begin your project. But before starting your project, make sure every detail is in writing.
Step 3: Get Everything in Writing
Getting everything in writing helps to eliminate vague languages and avoid miscommunication. No work should begin without a detailed written contractor. Every aspect of the job should be covered such as the agreed upon price, scope, deadlines, and materials used. Other important areas that should be included are safety procedures, liability, and clean-up process.
Your roofing contract exists to protect your contractor and your home. Unfortunately, there are homeowners who do not read the entire contents of the contract. No matter how busy you are, always take the time to read every line of the contract.
A detailed contract will most likely contain heavy legal jargon. If a certain part of the contract does not make sense, ask for clarification. As a client, you can also rewrite aspects of the contract to better meet your needs.
With an ironclad contract, it is the roofer’s word against yours. Spare yourself from possible headaches and litigation by having every aspect of the project in writing.
This includes all applicable warranties and insurance paperwork. Some contractors do not provide warranties that include workmanship. So you may be left with a roof with the right materials but poor installation. Make sure you roof warranty includes materials and labor. Keep in mind some warranties only cover your roof if the same company comes out to repair your roof. For example, if you hire a different contract to fix damage to your roof, the warranty might become invalid.
Don’t Forget to Get Your Paperwork Ready
Your signed contract and roofing company’s insurance and warranty are not the only paperwork you will need. Your local area might require a building permit before any roofing work is done. Again, this is not a requirement for every city, but it is always a smart idea to check with your local permit office.
Bonus Tip: Stay Informed During the Project
Even if you’re working with the best roofing company, your project may have some unexpected issues. It is important to stay in contact with your roofer so you’re both on the same page.
Another way to stay informed during your project is refer back to your contract for specific details such as payment.
Your contract should outline when payment is due. If your roofing company requires one-third or one-half of the payment upfront, don’t be too alarmed. As long as you sign a binding contract, you should be protected. Also many roofers are willing to negotiate on the exact down payment. Your contract should outline a precise payment schedule.
Never make the final payment until the job is complete. Unfortunately, some contractors try to finish most of the job but leave the finishing touches uncompleted. Don’t make the final payment unless you are completely satisfied with the work and clean-up.
Whether you need simple roof repair or an entirely new roof, finding the perfect roofing company is easy when you follow these basic steps:
1) Do your research
2) Compare your options
3) Get everything in writing
As a homeowner, it is your responsibility to complete due diligence and keep communication open during the roofing process.