Picking a roofing contractor can be a stressful ordeal. You might be dealing with a leaking or damaged roof, and then on top of that, you have to sort through all of the available roofing contractors in your area to find one who will get the job done right while still being affordable. Understandably, you might not be sure about what makes a roofing contractor good or reliable, especially if you’re a new homeowner or have never needed one before.
Here are 15 excellent questions to ask potential roofing contractors—before you sign on the dotted line.
1. Are you a licensed roofing contractor?
Most states require roofing contractors to be licensed in that state in order to work; but codes and requirements will differ between states, which means it will help you to understand the code requirements for your area. This way you know you’re working with a roofer who will comply with your state’s codes. Knowing whether they are licensed, and whether that license is up to date, will give you legal recourse in the event that something goes wrong with the work, too.
2. Do you have workman’s comp insurance?
Although it’s now required by law that roofing companies offer workman’s compensation insurance to their employees, regardless of their number, it’s wise to ask anyhow. Some contractors might choose to do without and take their chances, but if the injury happens on your property, there’s a risk that you could be held liable for the medical expenses—which no homeowner wants. Protect yourself by making sure that the roofing specialist you’re hiring offers workman’s compensation insurance.
3. Do you carry general liability insurance?
Workman’s compensation insurance covers the roofing employees while they’re on your property, but you still have to worry about damage to your actual property as a result of work. Ask to see an insurance certificate to verify that the roofer has general liability insurance, so that in the event your roof, house, or property is damaged, you won’t be responsible for covering the damage that someone else caused.
4. Do you use roofing subcontractors?
Some contractors will hire subcontractors to handle roofing work. Ask if they use subcontractors and then get verification that they have workman’s compensation and general liability insurance. You may also want to pick up lien waivers as these documents can protect you in the event that the contractor doesn’t pay the subcontractors.
5. Will you remove my old roof?
It’s not unheard of for roofers to give your old roof a visual inspection and make the call to shingle over it. Visual inspects will always fail to identify problems such as soft or rotten spots; and if those issues linger, they’ll only create larger problems for your roof in the future. The old roof should always be removed before a new one is put down to ensure all problems have been identified and addressed.
6. Are you going to install drip edge/edge metal when you install my new roof?
Drip edge and edge metal are small pieces of aluminum situated under the shingle, where it extends off the roof. This helps guide runoff into the gutters instead of behind them, protecting the wood and fascia of your roof. Some roofers may not default to installing this unless it’s mentioned, so be sure to bring it up before you hire a roofing company.
7. Will you use ladder stabilizers or standoffs to protect the gutters during roof installation?
It’s easy to forget about how the roofers will access your roof when you’re shopping for a new roof, but it’s critical for the safety of your gutters. Standoffs and stabilizers will keep an excess of a few hundred pounds off of your gutters, protecting your guttering system while your roof is replaced. Ask the roofing company whether they use ladder stabilizers or standoffs, and if they don’t, ask how they plan to protect your gutters. If they don’t have an answer or refuse to say, they’re not the roofing contractor for you.
8. Do you bring a container for refuse material?
Replacing a roof produces a lot of refuse, from shingles, old plywood, nails, drip edge, etc. Whoever you hire to take care of your roof should bring their own container to the job site to dispose of the refuse in—you shouldn’t be asked to supply the container or to deal with the trash once the job is over.
9. What is your physical address and phone number—and are you local?
Whenever you’re preparing to hire a roofing contractor, make sure they have a physical location. Operating out of a P.O. box is usually a red flag so always insist on having the physical address of their business, along with their phone number and the company’s full name. A good reason for knowing this information is to verify if they’re local.
Roofers may travel to places that experience hurricanes, such as Florida, to look for work; but if the roofing company you hire isn’t local and you have problems with your roof after they’ve finished, what are you going to do? If they’re from another city or state, they may not be available to correct any mistakes or issues that arise.
10. What is the warranty on my new roof?
Shingles carry the same cost as older ones do but they also last a lot longer. Customers should expect to get at least 25 years out of new shingles (minimum), so ask about the length of the new roof’s warranty. Anything less than 25 years should be questioned.
11. If you find rotten roof or soft roof decking, how much will the plywood cost?
This can end up being one of those hidden costs that surprise homeowners as some less-than-honest roofers might not cover this as they go over the agreement with you. You’ll want to know upfront how much plywood will cost you if the roofer determines it needs replaced. Ask for a dollar amount per plywood sheet, and you can use that number as you compare roofing contractors for the best savings.
12. Will you have someone onsite for me to talk to during the work if I have questions?
Imagine you come home after work one afternoon and find that the roofers have left a hole in your roof, uncovered, and they’re packing up the trucks to leave. You probably want to know whether they’re going to cover the hole before they head out, but who do you talk to? It’s important to know who the project manager is before work starts so you can direct any questions or concerns to them, rather than the group (who may or may not have a designated project manager).
13. Will you provide a written estimate?
A detailed estimate provided in writing is a homeowner’s best friend. Before you sign or agree to anything, make sure you have a detailed estimate for the job. You’ll want to know the cost of removing the old roof, adding the new roof, materials, and anything else that may come up during the process. There should be no surprise costs when the work is done.
14. What will you do if there is inclement weather while you’re working on my roof?
Roofing requires good weather to complete safely and on time, so when it rains, snows, or the weather turns sour, work gets cut short. This means the roofers may have to stop midway and pick it up once the weather gets better, but there are a few issues that come up in that scenario. Ask the roofing contractor what they’ll do to secure the work, and what precautions they take in the event of inclement weather, to ensure that your roof, home interior, and belongings aren’t ruined by rain, wind, or an incomplete job.
15. How will you protect my driveway and the rest of my property from damage that might occur as a result of your work?
Roofers require a lot of equipment to get the job done. There will be trucks, tools, ladders, benches/tables, and dumpsters for refuse. Ask where the roofing contractor will place these things and how they’ll work to ensure that their equipment doesn’t damage your property. Will the contractor do anything to repair or remedy any damages they cause? Will they protect the gutters with stabilizers? These are important questions to ask and you’ll be grateful to know in advance before you hire a company that won’t take care around your home or landscape.