How to Choose a Roofing Contractor
Family Owned vs Large Commercial Company
Our member roofing contractors vary in size and complexity from small family owned business to large industrial contracting companies. Each business type has it's role to play within the industry. Below is some general information that will help you decide what type of contractor or roofer you may want to do business with. Who and what type of roofing contractor you are most comfortable working with isa decision only you can make.
The Small Family Owned Roofing Business
Usually this company will have the owner on your roof swinging a hammer, therefore hiring a small family owned business has many advantages. First with the business owner there youíre getting the best worker on the job site. The owners personal reputation and credibility are on the line with every job.
The small business owners usually do one job at time and with a small well trained crew. They usually have really strong referrals and care deeply about each and every project they do.
There are some trade-offs and risks with the small roofing business. Their pricing is usually competitive but a small company may not offer financing assistance and will usually require a significant deposit to begin working. Another concern is the speed at which they may be able to schedule your job.
Since small roofing company's usually do single jobs and book out accordingly so weather delays and extended work projects can cause shifts and delays in your project scheduling as well. Should the owner ever become sick or worse get hurt it may result in significant delays on getting your job done.
Larger Commercial Roofing Contractors
A larger commercial roofing company works with multiple experienced crews. The owners are not typically interacting with every customer. They are usually better at scheduling and managing projects because of their experience and resources.
They purchase materials in larger quantities to get better pricing, and in some cases may pass those savings on to you. They usually offer financing assistance and can get paid after the job is done. A large company usually has a long history and will most likely be there in the future too.
Always Get Referrals & Check Them
Always get a list of references with contact information on past clients. Most homes are unique so be sure your referral references have a similar type roof. Most contractors are responsible professionals. On occasion we hear reports of disappearing work crews, runaway costs and missed deadlines. Your best protection is getting references and calling them.
Be sure you personally call all references and ask for their opinion on how the job went? How did they find the service provider? Did they have any problems? Did they show up on time, where there any problems? What was the one area they could have improved on? What would you do different if you had to do it all over again?
A referral that is not willing to give information may be a sign of a problem.
There will always be some problem that occurs on occasion, so donít decline a roofer because of one bad comment. There are always two-sides to every story, let the roofer explain a negative report. If however you find a pattern of reoccurring bad reports and stories about one roofer, youíre best to move on to another company.
Roofers License and Insurance Information
Roofing is a dangerous profession and thus has costly insurance. Sadly not all contractors carry appropriate insurance. Be cautious, donít risk your home and financial security to save a few hundred dollars. Itís not worth the risk. How can you be sure to protect yourself?
Before hiring a roofing contractor make certain the roofing contractor carries a roofers license and is properly insured. A good roofing contractor will hand over his or her license number and insurance information when asked, it is expected.
Be sure to call and validate licensing with your local licensing board. Make certain that your contractor is a licensed roofing contractor; not a General Contractor. Most are registered with the State Board of Roofing Contractors. Inform the roofer that you will be calling to confirm this information. The roofers work hard and pay for those credentials. Confirming them is a sign of professionalism, not of distrust.
Roofers Insurance Information
Be sure your receive a copy of an active insurance policy. An currently active policy may lapse if future payments are skipped. This would put you at considerable risk. To protect yourself contact their insurance carrier directly. Ask that they send you an active certificate naming you as additionally insured, if the policy is lapsing you will be notified by mail prior to the coverage canceling.
Sub-Contractors Vs Employees Insurance
Ask your roofing contractor if they use employees or if they use sub-contractors. If they use employees make certain you receive a current active workmanís compensation policy from the insurance provider and verify the coverage with the insurance provider.
If they use sub-contractors no worries. Sub contracting is quite common in the roofing industry and not an area for concern. A Sub-contractor is hired by a trained professional and usually meets higher workmanship standards than employees, however there is an insurance risk.
Sub-contractors are not covered under the contracting companyís insurance policy, unless it expressly states that on their insurance certificate. You must contact their insurance provider for verification of sub-contractors being covered, trust the insurance provider not the contractor to confirm this vital issue.
If the sub-contractors are not covered under the main company insurance they must have their own. Get the names or each sub-contractor that will work on your project, and their individual insurance policy. Call their providers and make the same requests as above. If the subs are not insured do not hire that contractor.
You put yourself at high risk hiring a contractor without proper insurance coverage. In case of injury or damages you will be held personally liable.
Get Three or More Competitive Quotes
Your being a well informed consumer will show during your negotiation conversations with the contractor. It will still however take some time to understand and determine your expectations; as well as for you to understand theirs. The contractor will work with you to document a proposal agreement that honestly reflects your expectations. It will also address their expectations, appropriate pricing and payment arrangements.
Get a three bids at a minimum, ideally more. Competitive quotes provide genuine comparative information. Comparing all aspects of different roofing contractors and their proposals is the best way to determine what and how contractors practice their trade. Negotiate adding the good points made in one proposal with those who do not address them in their own.
Remember that all legitimate proposals with identical materials, warrantee and install times can be negotiated on price. While it is natural to be attracted to the lowest bid we suggest strong caution be exercised especially if the price is not reasonably consistent with other bids.
If the lowest bid seems too low ... trust that instinct; it is not worth the risk should problems arise.