Frequently Asked Questions
Hiring The Right Roofer
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? Do they have a physical address or local office? 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?
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.
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 seen 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.
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 Angie’s 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.