Finding a Good Roofer

Roofing work isn’t cheap. New roofs can cost thousands of dollars. A poorly-done repair job can lead to bigger headaches and greater expenses down the road. All the more reason to do your due diligence when searching for a roofing contractor for your repair, replacement or installation job.

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We’ve gathered some top tips on finding reliable roofing labor from expert sources around the web, including the NRCA (National Roofing Contractor’s Association), the BBB, and home expert and syndicated media figure Danny Lipford.

How to Choose a Roofer

Remember to always due your due diligence before deciding to entrust your roof to a given contractor. You don’t want to pay the price for handing over your roof to an unqualified or unethical businessperson. And while no one can guarantee a perfect experience, you might come out ahead if you follow these recommendations:

1. References –  Can this contractor provide you with verifiable references of previous jobs? “Drop any contractor who balks at providing them,” says Danny Lipford of Today’s Homeowner. Lipford recommends doing a drive-by visual inspection of a roofer’s previous work. He also suggests contacting the references to check how the job went regarding

2. Credentials – Is this roofer listed in the BBB? While a Better Business Bureau listing isn’t the end-all be-all, easy red flags can be found when BBB reviews are poor. Affiliation with an industry trade group, such as a national, regional or state roofing contractor’s organization, can be a plus.

3. Permanent Address – While this might seem obvious, you don’t want to be taken advantage of by a fly-by-night operation. NRCA recommends verifying that the contractor in question possesses a permanent business address, phone number, tax ID number, and a license (where applicable).



4. Roof-Specific Expertise – Does this contractor have expertise or certification in your type of roof? Experience with asphalt shingle roofs does not automatically qualify someone to install a rubber roof. Materials and application techniques have also changed over the last decade, according to the NRCA.

5. Price – It’s not about being the cheapest. In fact a greatly lower bid may be taken as a warning sign that a contractor is desperate for work or may not value his services appropriately. As noted on the NRCA blog, ” If one estimate seems much lower than the others and it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”  You can ask a contractor to provide a price break-down explaining the estimate in detail.

6. Worker’s Comp. and Insurance – Does this contractor possess liability insurance? Danny Lipford says at least $1 million in liability insurance is a must. Worker’s compensation is also a prerequisite to avoid any legal issues should something go wrong. “Insist on seeing copies” of insurance and worker’s comp documents, advises the NRCA.

7. Warranty –  How long is the warranty, and what does it cover? First, the materials warranty. Warranties vary by manufacturer and product, but 20-30 years is common for asphalt shingles, and may go even longer. The second element is the workmanship warranty on the contractor’s labor. There is no industry standard, according to the NRCA blog, but one to two years is common. Lipford says you should insist on a warranty that covers labor-related issues such as flashing problems and leaks.

8. Review Your Contract – Make sure you get a clearly-written contract containing any necessary stipulations. For example, who is responsible in the case of damage arising from the project? The NRCA’s Everybody Needs A Roof site recommends your contract contain this language. The BBB also suggests having a “knowledgeable friend, relative or attorney” check the contract before you apply your John Hancock to it.

9. Payment Schedule – You should expect to pay in two chunks, according to Lipford: a third up-front to cover materials, and the rest upon satisfactory completion of the job. “Resist dealing with any contractor who asks you to pay for the entire job up-front,” says the BBB.

10. Subtle Clues – Don’t ignore subtle visual and clues that might give you a window into a contractor’s operation. Is his equipment and work vehicle in order and in good clean working condition? What about his personal appearance? Is he diligent and timely with correspondence? Is he high-pressure? You shouldn’t ever choose a roofer solely on intuition, but if your gut is telling you something is off, it might be worth listening.

These aren’t the only pieces of good advice when it comes to finding a roofing contractor. Your particular situation may require taking different things into consideration. Ultimately it is up to you to select a good roofer for your home’s repair, replacement or improvement project. But by carefully doing your homework, you should be able to save yourself a lot of heartache (and wallet-ache) and end up with a roof to be proud of.

Roofer image: Anthony Spratt/flickr