Top Qualities to Look for in a Roofing Company
Repairing a roof or replacing it entirely is an expensive proposition. According to HomeAdvisor, the average cost to repair a roof is $1,100 and to replace it is $7,275—but commercial roofs cost even more to repair or replace, costing upwards of $45,000. If you’re in the market for roof work, it’s important to closely vet and evaluate all the roofing companies before you decide which company to hire.
Generally, you should seek at least three different estimates for any kind of major construction—and roofing is no different. Here’s a list of the top concerns you should consider when you’re making your choice.
It’s a rare that company that won’t provide a free estimate; however, some less reputable companies will give you a very inexpensive, low-ball quote and then tack on additional fees once the work begins.
Request a written estimate that not only provides a total price for the work but a breakdown of estimated costs for materials and work. Sometimes a roofer may run into other issues once the slate or shingles come off—rotten wood, for example, that’s not visible to the naked eye—but you can also request that the company provide a range of additional costs if you (or they) anticipate any other problems that they couldn’t spot during the initial evaluation.
References & referrals
Established, reliable roofing companies often ask former customers to provide a reference. You can visit a roofing company’s website to review the testimonials. If those testimonials include dates, look at the most recent ones. These testimonials paint a good picture for the company’s efficiency, reliability, professionalism, dependability, and trustworthiness.
If the roofer does not have a website, ask him to provide you with references. Then, contact two or three of the former customers to ask their honest opinions. Another option is to reach out to local friends, family, and fellow business owners for their recommendations, too. You can also look on websites like Angie’s List, Yelp, and HomeAdvisor for customer feedback about specific companies.
Insurance, licensing, bonding
All roofing companies should carry their own insurance—if an accident occurs and the company lacks insurance, it falls to you and your homeowner’s policy to settle the claim. You can and should request proof of both the company’s workman’s comp and general liability insurance.
You’ll also want to ask for their licensing information, which verifies that the company is indeed registered to do business. Bonding and licensing are two different things. Contractors who are bonded have purchased surety bonds, which is a type of insurance policy that protects property owners.
Ask each roofing company their procedure for obtaining the permits required to work on your roof. The roofer should get the permits, that include the work and removal of the old roofing material, and pay for them, too.
Well trained staff & safety record
The market has a wide variety of materials used for roofing. Find out the type of materials each roofing company you’re thinking about hiring uses—and ask what types of training (and how often) their employees receive. A good company will invest heavily in training to ensure that their employees know the best ways to install all the roofing products the company offers.
Ask what type of team the company uses—good roofing companies should include a project manager for new installations and a customer care team that responds within 24 hours (or sooner) to any questions or concerns you have.
A company’s safety record reveals a lot about how well its employees are trained. Ask the company about the safety training its employees receive. You can also check with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to see if the company has any violations or citations.
There’s nothing more frustrating than a lack of communication. It’s critical that you can maintain a clear line of communication with the roofing company, especially if they’re working on your place of business. You need to know when they’re coming—and they need to let you know should anything change—and they should also inform you immediately if they run into issues during the repair or installation that might drive the cost higher.
Roofers should be responsive to your questions and in addressing your concerns. The estimator and project manager or head crewman should be able to provide suggestions and recommendations backed by their expertise and years of experience.
When you’re ready to sign the contract determine how you’ll stay in touch with each other throughout the project. Make sure to clearly express your expectations.
Poor roofing work doesn’t always manifest immediately. Sometimes it takes a year or more for shoddy workmanship to appear. Be wary of any roofing company that doesn’t offer a warranty. At bare minimum, the warranty should be at least one year—but multi-year warranties are better because they offer you more protection.
Ask how the company handles issues, should any arise within the warranty. Good roofing companies who guarantee their work and stand by it will do all they can to ensure their customers’ satisfaction—and that includes returning to fix a problem if it occurs.
Well defined maintenance program
Roofers know the importance of regular roof maintenance, too. Ask whether the company provides a comprehensive maintenance program that includes scheduled inspections and recommendations for any work your roof might need. These programs should provide a breakdown of potential expenses so that you can budget for those repairs and maintenance.
Permanent place of business
Be wary of any company that doesn’t have a permanent address. A PO box isn’t enough. Permanent locations that are local (and have local landline telephone numbers) are a sign of stability and reliability. Remember—anyone can print up business cards and work out of a van. But a physical address indicates a greater commitment to the business.
Years in business
The longer a company’s been in business, the more established it is in the community. Most roofing companies last about five years—companies with longer histories have well-established track records and references and have earned the trust of the communities they serve.
Membership in professional organizations
It’s certainly not a requirement for a roofing company to belong to a professional organization, but any company that’s committed to staying on top of industry changes and improvements, trends, and best practices should belong to at least one. The two main affiliations are the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) and the National Roofing Partners (NRP).
The costs you may incur from working with an inexperienced or unethical roofing company are high. In fact, the Better Business Bureau received more complaints about roofing companies than any other industry in 2016. Roofing scams are also among the top “home disasters” listed in the paper or mentioned on HGTV.
It makes sense, financially, to pursue due diligence when you’re looking for an honest, reliable, and experienced roofing company to handle all your roofing needs.