Frequently Asked Questions

Hiring The Right Roofer

1. What should I be aware of when choosing a roofing contractor?

Since a knowledgeable contractor will be able to guide you through all the planning stages of the project, finding a capable contractor should be your first order of business. It will save you both time and money. Although longevity is a good attribute, it doesn’t necessarily signify a good company. Look for a company that built its business on word of mouth and referrals. You can be certain that a highly referred company is doing good work. Finally, ask friends and any contractors you know who they would recommend for roof replacement. Once you’ve streamlined your search, make sure that the company you’re considering carries both liability and workers compensation insurance. You don’t want to end up with a lawsuit because the company you’re dealing with is not adequately insured. Since there are as many different types of installations as there are TV channels, the important thing is to make sure the company you choose to install your roof gives you detailed information on how your roof will be installed. Here are some cursory questions that will help you assess your contractor: Does the company solely specialize in roofing? How long have they been in the roofing business? What is their track record of repeat and referral business? What is their specific experience and skill set training with regards to roof installations? Are their installers covered by Workman’s Compensation insurance? What type of warranty do they offer on materials and installation? If there is a company service or warranty issue, who will come back to your home to take care of it: the roofing manufacturer, the installer, or someone else? Do they have a well-managed service department? Do they have references or current projects you can check-out?

2. Why is it important to select the right roofing company?

While most people will become enamored with evaluating the features of the roofing product they want for their home, most consumers dedicate very little time to selecting the right roofing company to manage the work. Big mistake! Truthfully, finding the right company to do the work is even more critical than finding the right product. In fact, inferior material installed correctly is much better than state of the art material installed incorrectly. With that said, its imperative you find and hire the right company, aside from the fact that they will help you select the right product for your needs and stand behind it;the real value availed is that you receive the peace of mind that your roof is installed correctly. Spend time researching the companies you are working with. Take time to understand what they do and how they do it. Make sure that they back up everything they tell you. Look for longevity, but not at the expense of performance—do you want a roofer whose been around for 30 years who does subpar work, or a roofer with 30 years’ experience that built their business and reputation via the word of mouth of very happy clients? Furthermore, make sure everything you discuss and agree upon is written in plain English on the contract you sign.

3. Do all roofing companies offer the same service and experience?

No. Like most businesses, there is a wide range of product offerings and a spectrum of companies providing varying levels of service and quality. Unfortunately, there are more than a few companies who take advantage of uninformed homeowners. Remember, these people deal in their industry every day. By contrast, most homeowners have never even or made a major contracting investment before, let alone one focused on roof replacement or repair. It is important for you to do your homework. A few hours spent upfront can save you days of frustration and considerable expense on the back end.

4. What should I take under consideration when buying a new roof?

Buying a new roof can be a confusing process if you aren’t sure what to look for. After all, there are many different roofing systems, material choices and companies to help with installation. Consider the reputation of the roofing company. Many homeowners would consider this to be at the bottom of their list of important essentials when roof shopping. However, this is one of the most important areas to consider when investing in a new roof. The home improvement industry has many non-licensed contractors doing substandard work for homeowners. Always check out a company or the individual contracting to provide services. Ask for references, and follow up with calling those listed. You could also do a query with Angies List to be sure there are no unresolved complaints listed against the company you are considering hiring. A reputable company should have both liability and Workman’s Compensation insurance in place and have qualified employees with experience installing new roofing systems.

5. Does a contractor require liability insurance coverage?

Liability insurance protects you from damage to your home or property caused by contractor negligence or ignorance. For instance, if one of the persons who is working on your home disposes of a lighted match or cigarette and your home catches fire, liability insurance will cover the cost of repair, assuming the contractor has enough insurance secured in place. For most residential homes, a one million dollar liability policy with a one million dollar umbrella policy is adequate. Liability insurance will also cover things like structural failures that occur because of corner-cutting methods to save money.

6. Must a contractor's employees have Workman's Compensation insurance?

Workman’s Compensation insurance protects you if someone is injured on your property while working on your home. Every person working on your home must be either an independent contractor or an employee, who by law, must be covered by a Workman’s Compensation policy. If the person is not an employee, they are by definition, “an independent contractor” who must have their own individual Liability policy. If there are five non-employee people on your property, they must each have their own Liability policy. If there are employees of one of the companies working on your home, they must be covered under a Workman’s Compensation policy. You need to be certain that everyone on your property is individually covered by one of these policies. The construction industry is infamous for having people who work “under the table”, so they pay no taxes and have no insurance coverage. The problem is that if one of these uninsured people gets hurt on your property, they can sue you, the homeowner, for their pain and suffering. With Workman’s Compensation, they can’t sue because they get compensated by insurance.

7. How important is it for a contractor to have insurance coverage?

Appropriate insurance coverage is really important. Like most insurance, it probably will not be used, but it is important for it to be available if it is needed. When having work done on your home, the probability of something going wrong is small, but the risk can be very high, and costly, if something does go wrong. There are two types of insurance coverage a contractor needs to have in place to protect you, Liability and Workman’s Compensation. Liability insurance protects you from damage to your home or property caused by contractor negligence or ignorance. Workman’s Compensation insurance protects you if someone is injured on your property while working on your home.

8. Will my homeowner's insurance policy safeguard me if something happens while a contractor is working on my property?

In most circumstances, the answer is no. Most homeowner’s policies essentially exclude claims for damages and personal injury claims while work is being conducted on your home. Why? Because your insurance company can’t evaluate the competency and work history and process of every person who might be working on your home. Since they can’t evaluate it, they exclude that coverage from the policy. It is your responsibility to evaluate the contractor and part of that evaluation is that they have proper insurance coverage in place to protect you. Ask to see copies of all insurance policies, and don’t be fearful to call the insurance company to see if those policies are still effective. Moreover, you may want to get a certification letter from the company you are using that verifies that Liability and Workman’s Compensation insurance is in effect for every person, not just every employee who will be stepping foot on your property. Yes, it may be a challenge to go through this due diligence, but you might regret it later. Remember, the probability is low, but the risk can be high. It’s up to you to shield yourself.

9. Can a contractor provide an estimate in 20 minutes?

Providing an estimate probably only takes about 20 minutes. However, what does an estimate tell you about the company and the way it relates with its customers? What does an estimate tell you about product choices and the alternatives you have? What does an estimate tell you about the way the roof will be installed? What does an estimate tell you about the options you have regarding warranty coverage? What does an estimate tell you about the company’s record of repeat and referral business? What does an estimate tell you about the insurance coverage a company may or may not have? What does the estimate tell you about who will be performing the work, the company or a subcontractor? What does the estimate tell you about the terms and conditions of the warranty? As you can see, there are a lot of facts you need to have and understand. It is your hard-earned money you’re going to be investing. You don’t invest in a new roof everyday. In many cases, consumers don’t know what they don’t know—but don’t let this be your excuse. Take all the time you need to get your questions answered to your full contentment and ask for them to be complete in writing. Any trustworthy and reputable company will have no problem putting the details in writing that they verbally convey. After the job is complete it is too late to deal with dispute such as, “I thought I was getting xyz shingle …” or “I thought I was getting a longer warranty …” It is your home and your money, make sure you invest prudently. Fifteen minutes is not enough time for you to determine whether or not you are receiving everything you need.

10. How important is it for a contractor to have an established place of business?

A stable place of business shows commitment and permanence. How reliable is a one-person operation who works out of the back of a U-Haul trailer or truck? These individuals could easily decide to exit the business at any time. What if something happens to them physically or otherwise? Who is going to take care of any problems you might have after the installation has been finished and you’ve paid for it. Finally, the other advantage of a permanent place of business is that you have somewhere to go if there are any future problems or issues.

General Roofing

1.1 When do I know I need to replace my roof?

All too often, roof problems are discovered after leaking or other serious damage occurs. Periodic inspections can often uncover cracked, warped, or missing shingles, loose seams and deteriorated flashings, excessive surface granules accumulating in the gutters or downspouts, and other visible signs of roof problems. Indoors, look for cracked paint, discolored plasterboard, and peeling wallpaper as signs of damaged roof areas.

1.2 My roof leaks and looks worn. Do I need to have it totally replaced?

Not necessarily. Leaking can result because some flashings have come loose or because a section of the roof has been damaged. A worn roof can be a simple function of situational weather conditions or the type of material used. But the golden rule is, a real roof failure is generally irreversible and results from improper installation or choice of materials, or from the installation of a roof system inappropriate to the building. The only way to know is by having the roof inspected to see if it’s a simple fix or something bigger.

1.3 Can't I just do the work myself or hire a local handy man?

Most work should not be do-it-yourself. Professional roofing contractors are trained to safely and efficiently repair or replace a roof. Novices can harm a roof with improper roofing techniques and severely injure themselves by falling off or even through a roof in need of repair or replacement. Homeowner maintenance should be confined to roof inspections in both the fall and spring to check for cracked or curling shingles, and to cleaning rain gutters filled with dead leaves and other debris. If you must see the roof for yourself, use a firmly braced or tied-off ladder equipped with rubber safety feet. Wear rubber-soled shoes and stay on the ladder (and off the roof) if possible.

1.4 How much will a new roof cost?

The price of a new roof varies widely, depending on the material selected, the contractor doing the work, the home itself, area of the country, local labor rates, time of year, and more. To get a good idea of the cost for your roof, get three or four estimates from reputable contractors in your area. Keep in mind that cost is only one factor, and it must be balanced against the quality of the materials and workmanship. For each roofing material there are different grades – and corresponding prices. Plus, there is a variety of styles and shapes. You need to look at the full product range and make a choice based on your budget and needs. Within the roofing profession there are different levels of expertise and craftsmanship. Pick a contractor who is committed to quality work.

1.5 How can I determine the annual cost of my new roof?

When mulling over your roofing options, the following formula may help: Total Cost (materials and labor)/Life Expectancy of Roof (in years) = Annual Cost