How to Choose a Roofer
It’s getting to be that time of year again, when homeowners in the Vancouver, WA area start noticing drips, leaks, and other roof problems. Unfortunately, too many people hire a roofer before having the information they need to make a smart decision.
In today’s post, we’ll look at the most important questions you should ask any potential roofer and how you can find a roofer you can trust. Let’s get started!
1. Who Will I Be Contacting?
As a homeowner, you’re likely to have questions about the progress of your roofing project, when it’ll be finished, or maybe about the materials being used. The point is: you’re going to have questions. Who will answer them?
Will you be able to reach out and contact someone who is directly involved with managing your roofing project? Or will you be dealing with a salesman who may not have the technical knowledge to answer your questions or ensure your job is setup properly, or who may not even be involved after your project starts?
At Cutting Edge Contracting, we know that communication on projects is paramount, and having the same point of contact throughout the job who also has the proper job site and technical knowledge is the only way to ensure your project goes smoothly and is done the right way.
When evaluating a roofing company, make sure that the person who provides the quote on your project can properly diagnose roof failures. For example, did you know that you can cut the life expectancy of a new roof by 30% if the home has a poorly ventilated attic?
Be sure to meet with somebody who knows how to identify and fix the root causes of your roofing issues, and not somebody who is just there to give you a price and sign a contract.
2. What About Ratings & Reviews?
Ratings and reviews are among the best ways to investigate the work of a roofing company. Take a look at the overall ratings and reviews of the roofing company. What impression do you get?
Then compare the total number of reviews to how long a company has been in business? This can give you some insight into how much the company values customer service and satisfaction, as well as the follow through they have.
For example are you looking at a newer company that has upwards of 20 top-rated reviews or a company that’s been around for awhile but only has 4 or 5? Lots of recent positive reviews is a great indicator that a roofing company is busy and is committed to top quality service.
3. How Experienced Are You? What Certifications Do You Hold?
How experienced are the roofing crews who will be working on your project? What kind of training or skill levels does the company demand of their workers? Does the company have safety training programs? Do the installers have any legitimate roofing certifications?
Many roofers claim to be experts, but never receive any type of formal training on proper installation procedures or product training on the products they install.
The roof installers here at Cutting Edge Contracting work to earn their Master Shingler certification through CertainTeed, an industry leader in standardizing training programs. Our roofers learn proper product installation procedures and develop thorough knowledge of all of our roofing products.
4. Do You Hire Employees or Work With Subcontractors?
Is the roofing crew actually doing the work employed by the same company you’re hiring or are they subcontractors? When working with a company that utilizes subcontractors, make sure to ask:
- How are quality controls enforced on the job?
- Who am I to communicate with if I have questions or concerns with the project?
- Do they verify their subcontractors to make sure they have the same liability and workers compensation insurance they promise you?
- Who is responsible for the guarantees on your project?
- Many times, there is a much lower degree of control over communication, quality, and timeliness of completion when working with subcontractors.
- Many contractors claim to be roofing companies, but in fact, have no roofing crews of their own and solely sell roofing services and subcontract out.
Be sure to work with a company that specializes in the roofing service you are looking for.
5. What Roofing Products Do You Use?
Are the roofing products used on the roof specifically designed for the climate here in the Pacific Northwest? Is your roofer recommending products specifically designed for your home or are they recommending products that are in their best interest to sell? Are the products being installed the same products you were told were included during your estimate?
When comparing bids and discussing other bids with roofers, it may be very easy for a roofer to tell you they are doing the same work or installing the same products as the competition, but your contractor’s promises are only as good as what they put in writing.
Make sure the products and installation specs are specifically written out on your estimate / contract.
6. Are You Insured? What About Liability & Worker’s Comp?
Many roofing companies claim to be licensed, bonded, and insured, but some may not have all of the above. A roofer without insurance coverage can leave you open to all sorts of risk, from damage to your property to liability for personal injury.
A simple lapse in coverage or failure to verify this information can easily leave you open to unnecessary risk. Take extra precaution when evaluating smaller companies, in particular, those that have owner / operators that may elect NOT to cover themselves under workers comp to cut costs.
At Cutting Edge Contracting, we’re happy to provide proof of insurance, including liability and worker’s comp coverage. In fact, even if you forget to ask we’ll make sure you know about it before we start working.
7. Do You Provide Written Estimates? Will I Sign a Contract?
While an old fashioned handshake is nice and a sign of a courteous contractor, you still need to have everything in writing. This includes:
- Scope of the project
- Materials to be used and their specifications
- Any guarantees or warranties
Be wary of contractors who claim to use “Lifetime” products or warranties. These terms have specific industry definitions, so be sure to understand what benefits you are actually being provided.
8. Are Your Products & Labor Covered By Warranty?
Does your contractor back up their product with a workmanship warranty? How long is their guarantee and what does it cover?
The roofing material’s manufacturer will usually include a product warranty but this does not cover the installation. “Lifetime” warranties advertised by contractors are typically the manufacturer’s warranty that covers the product and not installation should your install fail. Be sure to ask yourself if the roofing company you are working with will be around to honor the warranty they provide.
9. How Much Do You Charge?
NEVER choose a roofer based solely on price. Cheap bids drive down the market and anyone with overhead and proper insurance has to establish pricing to cover such costs. Those that do work on the side or are just working out of a pick-up truck can always do the work cheaper. But an unusually low bid is usually an indicator of poor quality materials or sub-standard work and in the long run, you get what you pay for.
If you pick a roofer based solely on price, you’ll likely end up spending more money in the long run to fix problems, many of which may been covered under a workmanship guarantee by a reputable established roofing company.
In addition, many times, the first costs cut by unethical roofers are typically the most important, including: workers comp, payroll taxes, tool maintenance, continuing education, etc. If in doubt, make sure to ask any potential roofing contractor how they arrived at their price.
Cutting Edge Contracting
“Every family needs a roof over their head. Why put yours in jeopardy by not choosing the right roofer?
We’ll care for your roof as if it was our own.”
– Sean Kelly, President, Cutting Edge Contracting
Are you thinking about starting a roofing project in the Vancouver, WA area? Contact the roofing experts here at Cutting Edge Contracting. We have over 20 years of local roofing experience and we’ll be happy to answer all of your questions before providing you with a free in-home estimate and quote.
We want you to be 100% satisfied with our work and that starts by making sure that you have all the information you need to make the right decision for you and your home.
Sean Kelly is the COO & President of Cutting Edge Contracting. His background in business, accounting, and the construction industry helped him become the award-winning manager of a nationally-known paint company before joining Cutting Edge.