21 Questions to ask a Roofing Contractor
1. How long have you been in business?
Although years in business does not necessarily dictate quality, it can be a red flag. If the roofing contractor has been in business for only a few years, they may not have the experience or the insurance, licenses, and certifications necessary to run a roofing business.
2. Who owns your business?
It is a good idea to find out who owns the business and what type of experience they have with roofing. Does the owner have a long history in the roofing business? How long have they owned the company? Do they have experience running a business?
3. Does your company have proper insurance? Licensing and certification? Workers Compensation if anyone gets hurt? Can I see proof?
In order to keep both their employees safe and the building/home owners safe, the roofing contractor needs to have proper insurance, licensing, certification, and workers compensation. If the roofing contractor doesn’t have adequate insurance, if they cause any damage to your roof, you may have difficulty recovering damages in court. The roofing contractor needs to have the insurance to cover anything that can go wrong. With commercial roofing, hot torches and other equipment are frequently used so there is a chance of fire or damage to the roof structure if accidents occur.
If one of the contractor’s employees fall off the roof and get badly injured, the roofing contractor should have workers compensation to deal with these scenarios.
4. What safety measures do you employ?
Safety is very important in roofing! There are a number of safety procedures that must be followed to ensure both worker and occupant safety. The workers should have proper safety goggles, hearing protection, and fall protection. Additionally, the workers should have proper training in ladder safety and tool safety. If any hazardous chemicals or materials are used, the workers should have access to an SDS or MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheets) that document how to respond to spills or contact with skin or eyes.
5. Will you provide me with written warranties and/or guarantees?
Roofing repairs and installs can get expensive so you will want some sort of warranty/written guarantee that the work done is covered. If anything goes wrong during or within an agreed upon time frame after the repair or install, the roofing company should warranty their work. If any problems occur due to the materials or workmanship during the warranty period, the roofing contractor should repair it at their expense.
6. What training does your staff have? Are they trained to work with the roofing products they are installing on my roof?
Are the employees of the roofing contractor trained on how to install the roofing products they are using on your roof? Are they certified by the supplier to install the products?
7. Do you have a list of previous customers I can contact or jobs I can see?
Can the roofing contractor supply you with a list of previous customers and jobs they have performed? Does the contractor have a website showing before and after pictures of work they have performed?
If the roofing contractor is not willing to provide this information, it could be a red flag that they are not a reliable contractor.
8. Will my roof be installed by your employees or by contracted workers?
It is good to know whether your roofing contractor is sending out real employees or people who have been contracted out to do the work.
9. How will you be removing my old roof materials? Will you have a dumpster on site?
Ensuring that the roofer is prepared with equipment to remove the old roofing material will save you headaches later. You do not want to be stuck removing the roofing material on your own. The roofer should have a dumpster on site and should remove the old roofing material and clean up the jobsite after they have completed their work.
10. Will you be protecting my driveway and property?
Make sure you understand what steps the roofing contractor will be taking to protect your driveway and landscaping. Removing an old roof leaves lots of debris around that can damage landscaping or your driveway.
11. Will you be protecting my gutters?
You do not want the expense of replacing damaged gutters after your roof has been replaced or repaired by a roofing contractor! Make sure you understand if and how the gutters will be protected.
12. Will you be reusing the existing flashing or installing new flashings?
Replacing flashings on your roof is not easy. It is fairly time consuming as the roofer needs to remove the existing flashing and then measure them to create the new flashings. The new flashings then need to be custom bent to the correct shape prior to installation. This is a lot of work, and some roofers will use existing flashing rather than replace it. Depending on the age and condition of the existing flashing, this could turn out to be more costly for the home or business owner in the future. If the existing flashings are damaged by the elements or have rusted or leak, then extensive damage can occur down the road.
13. If you find any issues with the plywood, what is the cost for replacement?
You do not want any surprises when it comes to the overall cost of your roof repair or replacement! Make sure you understand what it will cost to replace any plywood that is damaged on the roof deck or sheathing. Replacing roof decking can get expensive in both labor and materials if a large part of your roof decking needs to be replaced.
14. When can you schedule me for an appointment?
Depending on what time of year you are planning to replace your roof, roofing contractors can get quite busy during certain periods of the year. You will want to find out when the roofing contractor will be scheduling your appointment. It is best to get an appointment setup as soon as possible during the busy times of year so that you can get your new roof installed in the timeline you desire.
15. How long will the roof install take?
In order to ensure that your roof is installed on a timeline that works for your family or business, you will want to know how long the roof install is expected to take. The area of the roof, type of roof (shingle, BUR, TPO, EPDM, etc), and the complexity of the roof will determine how long it will take the roofing contractor to install it. Each roof is unique and installation time will vary.
16. How is payment handled?
Typically, a roofer will want a deposit up front with the remainder payable when the job is completed to your satisfaction. Usually, the upfront deposit will be in the 10-30% range with the remainder payable on completion. It is a good idea to never pay the full amount until the work is completed to ensure that the contractor completes the job and that any extra costs or issues that may arise are addressed.
- Never pay the full amount up front
- If a roofing contractor wants the full amount up front, this is a huge red flag. Consider using a more reputable roofing contractor
- Make sure to get a contract in place that details the costs and payment timelines
- Expect to pay an upfront deposit that can be up to 1/3rd of the total cost
17. How many nails or fasteners will you be using? Does the number meet the manufacturer guidelines for the type of roof you are installing?
For residential roofing, each shingle manufacturer has its own requirements for nail quantity and placement. Its important that the roofing contractor you have hired follows those guidelines. Failing to follow the manufacturer guidelines can result in shingles being blown off in heavy winds or roof leaks.
Similarly, commercial roofing has requirements for how the roof is fastened or adhered to the roof deck. With commercial roofing, there are many different types of roofs including: Built-up Roofing, Modified Bitumen, TPO, EPDSM, and PVC. Each type of roof has different requirements. It is important that the roofing contractor follow the manufacturer and industry guidelines.
18. Will you be removing the old roofing material from my property and cleaning up any debris after the install?
You will want to be sure that the roofing contractor you have hired removes the old roofing material and fully cleans up the jobsite after they have completed the repair, replacement, or installation of your roof. Make sure that you come to an agreement and understanding with the contractor ahead of time regarding site cleanup.
19. Who will be my contact during the roofing project ? Will they be accessible?
You will want to have a contact with the roofing contractor that you can call to deal with any issues that arise or extra costs that may crop up. The contact should be easily accessible for the duration of the roofing project.
20. Is a building permit required for my roof?
If any permits are required prior to roof installation or repair, you will want to make sure that the roofing contractor has acquired these on your behalf ahead of time.
21. Will you be checking the condition of my decking?
Its important that the roofing contractor check the state of your roof decking prior to installing shingles or any roof membranes. If the roof deck is damaged, it needs to be repaired prior to installing shingles or roof membranes. The roof deck must be strong enough to carry the weight of the roofing material. This could add additional unexpected costs to the quoted price but is required to have a long-lasting roof and to adhere to building codes.
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