Whether this is your maiden voyage, or you’ve gotten quotes for various contracting jobs for so long, you’re measuring them in dog years, when it comes to your roof, you can’t mess around.
After all, those rafters, tiles and other elements protecting your biggest asset may be the only defense system you have against inclement weather.
Fear not! It gets easier after you ask the first question. No need to interrogate the people you’re auditioning but stay focused and act like you know what you’re talking about (even if you don’t understand all of it!).
Question #1: Can I see your license?
If the contractor says, “I don’t need a license to fix roofs in this state,” thank him and tell him you’ll get back to him after you’ve continued to get answers to the remainder of the questions on this list.
As soon as he leaves, call your municipal government’s office and ask. Forgive the cliché, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Once he comes up with that license, make sure the date is current. By the way, if a contractor has a post office box as the company mailbox, ask for a street address before you sign on the dotted line.
Question #2: Do you carry workman’s compensation and liability insurance?
Some homeowners feel timid about asking for proof of both but suppose someone is injured or hurt on your property while the dude is fastening roof tiles?
It’s up to the job boss (your contractor) to satisfy the real boss (that’s you) by showing proof of coverage in both respects, and it helps if the name of the insurance company(s) is familiar.
The Roofs R Us Insurance Company name should be looked upon with skepticism. Consider it a double warning if don’t see your name and address on these certificates. If you have concerns, go directly to the insurer and you’ll sleep better at night.
Question #3: Will you take care of removing my old roof?
For the uninitiated, this question may seem a no brainer, but (you’ll be shocked to read this) some roofing contractors get away with putting a new roof atop an old one because they’re lazy, they are out to make a quick buck, and did we mention the fact that they’re most likely looking to cut corners?
If an existing roof isn’t removed, you could put your new roof at risk due to rotting wood, leaky shingles, rust, mildew and any number of old roof evils eager to undermine your new one.
Question #4: When can I expect to get your written job estimate?
This important piece of paper could be the only thing standing between you and the verbal guestimate some less-than-reputable roofing contractors offer (and some gullible homeowners agree to).
Why do you want that written estimate? So no surprises pop up during the re-roofing process—like mysterious increases in raw material that come from out of nowhere and hype the finished job price so dramatically, you’re wondering why you picked this particular roofer.
Question #5: How will you handle refuse generated during the job?
The correct answer should be “we contract with a company that provides as many refuse containers as we’ll need to keep things neat and we’ll even place the container(s) in a place of your choosing so your home doesn’t turn into an unsightly garbage dump.”
Conscientious contractors know which surfaces can withstand the weight of these huge receptacles so if you stipulate your asphalt driveway, be prepared to learn that your entire driveway could crack if you insist on getting your way.
Question #6: What will you do if bad weather interrupts the job?
It happens. Especially if you live in an area that is prone to hurricanes, floods and other surprises Mother Nature rolls out.
You want to know that your home will turn into a festival of tarps so everything stays dry until the sun comes out.
In addition to seeking reassurances that your home will stay dry, ask if you are indemnified against work stoppages, whether you can expect an increase on your bill due to weather-related issues and always ask who eats that cost of these inconveniences.
Question #7: Will you install either drip edges or edge metal and use either ladder stabilizers or standoffs?
You don’t have to be a roofing expert to understand that edging is important as a runoff conduit so water damage is avoided once a new roof is in place.
Further, you needn’t be a handyman to question your contractor about whether or not he uses ladder stabilizers or substitutes when undertaking roofing jobs. Being savvy enough to ask about both shows that you’re no neophyte when it comes to best roofing practices.
Question #8: How extensive will the warranty on my new roof be?
We live in an age of schemes, scams and ploys that are not lost on today’s homeowner. Your question shouldn’t be whether you’ll get a warranty but how far into the future it will extend.
As a rule, manufacturers cover materials while roofers only indemnify their work. This means that you have every right to ask for both. The minimum amount of time you seek on those shingles should be at least 25 years, regardless of which shingle type is used on your project.
Question #9: How do you intend to protect my landscaping and yards?
As a homeowner, you likely invested thousands in landscaping, and all it takes is a hefty project like an old roof removal paired with a new roof install to ravage your property.
An improperly positioned ladder, carelessly strewn old tiles and crew members stomping through greenery can trigger so much damage, you may have to spend a fortune rehabilitating your lot.
Paved or bricked walkways, driveways and other installations may also suffer damage, so asking up front how your property will be protected should be nothing new for an experienced roofer.
Question #10: Will there always be someone onsite with whom I can converse?
You’ve heard the horror stories at cocktail parties, kids’ soccer matches and PTA meetings: a roofer gets your signature on a contract and then disappears faster than Harry Houdini.
Of course, you can’t expect the boss to be onsite 24/7, but you deserve to know if a sub-contractor will be available should issues, concerns and emergencies come up.
By the way, the willingness of a contractor to give out his personal phone number is an indicator of professional commitment.
And if he is also happy to provide phone numbers of clients who have used his services in the past, those references may be the final puzzle pieces you need to decide upon the best roofing contractor of all.
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