Repairing or replacing a roof is one of the most important property improvements. It’s imperative to know the right questions to ask a roofer during an interview. Selecting a roofer is a decision that can either save or cost you, or the owner of the property, quite of bit of money and time. The proper installation of flashing and vents can prevent leaks and carbon monoxide poisoning so it’s necessary to have an experienced roofer who does a proper job. There are websites on the internet that offer reviews of roofers by customers and these are a good place to gather information prior to selecting a roofer to interview.
Here are a few tips and things to keep in mind during your search:
1: Once you have selected a roofing company to interview, ask for the company’s full name and address. If they only give you a post office box without a physical location, move on. It is common after a big storm that causes a lot of property damage, for roofers from other states to come into your area to look for work. If the company is located out of state, there is the possible issue of reaching them in the event of a problem or concern in the future. Keep in mind that a local company is easy to contact and their work is known in the area.
2: Ask potential contractors how long they have been in business. Look for established roofers that not only have experience, but also have a crew with a good amount of experience as well.
3: Does the roofing contractor offer free onsite inspections and estimates? If a contractor tries to offer you an estimate over the phone without inspecting the roof, consider another contractor. The size, shape and condition of the roof are all factors in cost and an accurate estimate can only be determined by an onsite inspection.
4: Does the roofer have insurance? Roofers should have workers' compensation and liability coverage to protect the property owner in the event of an accident. Workers' compensation protects the property owner in the event of an injury to an employee, and liability protects from damage caused by the roofers. Without workers' compensation insurance, the owner may be responsible for medical bills and other costs associated with the injury. Your residential property insurance may not cover these types of accidents, so the owner could be held personally responsible for the costs, even if the property is owned by a corporation. Ask the roofer to provide certificates of insurance showing that premiums have been paid in full in advance. A reputable roofer will be ready and willing to provide this information.
5: Ask how the roofing company is organized. Do they have employees or subcontractors? If they have employees, what are their job descriptions? Is a project supervisor or lead carpenter used to oversee the project? If they use subcontractors, make sure you interview the subcontractors and obtain the same information you receive from the roofer. Get a contact number for the supervisor so that you can contact him if there are any issues. Also, get the names and telephone numbers of all persons who will be involved in the project including the contractor’s suppliers. This will help protect you or the property owner from mechanics liens for non-payment by the contractor. Suppliers also can be a source to establish credit history for the company.
6: Are the contractors, sub-contractors or employees members of any local or national roofing associations? The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) offers certification programs for roofers to keep them up to date on current roofing information and to help them maintain the highest standard of education possible. In addition, other certifications available are Certified Remodeler (CR), Certified Remodeler Specialist (CRS), Certified Lead Carpenter (CLC) and there are various Home Improvement Certifications (HIC). Trade certifications are good indicators of professionalism and knowledge of the industry.
7: Ask if the company is a full service or specialty firm. If you are planning a project, for example, replacing a flat roof, you may want to hire a specialty flat roofing company instead of a general roofing company.
8: Ask the contractor for evidence of licensing by the city and/or state. Licensing requirement vary by state. Some cities also require a contractor to be licensed. A business license is not the same as a roofing contractor license. A business license is for tax purposed and identifies the company. It does not mean the person has passed any certification test or is qualified to work as a roofer.
9: Perhaps the most important information you can obtain from a prospective roofer is references. Ask for local job sites that you can visit to check prior work. Follow up with these references and ask if they are happy with the work.
10: Ask how many projects similar to yours have been completed in the past 12 months.
11: Ask if there is any pending legal action against the roofer or his company. Major litigation could put a company out of business. If a lawsuit is pending, find out what the suit entails.
12: Ask if the roofing company offers a guarantee and/or a warranty for their work. Ask to see a copy of the warranty and ask for it to be attached to the contract.
When you have selected a roofer, ask that the following be included in the written contract:
A: The work schedule for the project with an estimate for completion
B: The hours that the roofing crew will work
C: Amount of the deposit, if any, required to begin the project
D: Explicit payment instructions and total price
E. The type and brand of materials and an itemized list of all labor and materials costs Many asphalt shingles require felt paper or other approved underlayment be put over the wood sheathing. The instructions often specify the type of underlayment. Ask the roofers to describe the layers of material they will install, but don't mention the underlayment by name. See if they describe it accurately. You can also ask questions about the nails or fasteners that they plan to use. The written instructions also should clearly specify the type and length of the fasteners needed and specify whether equipment will be used or just manual labor.
F: If the property is damaged by the roofer’s equipment, who is liable for the damage?
G: Who will haul away the old roofing materials and project waste. Is this included in the price?
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