If the outside of your home is well maintained and properly constructed, then the inside of your home will be protected. If the envelope of your home is compromised, so is everything under the roof.  Your home’s roofing system is only as good as the contractor you choose and the materials they use. It is important to choose carefully when installing or repairing your roof.

How to Choose the Best Roofing Contractor

Roofing is not a DIY project. You need a reliable contractor on your side that you can trust to guide you through the process. Use these tips from experienced homeowners to choose a contractor that you can rely on for roofing installation, replacement, or repairs. 

  • Look for Qualifications: Any roofing contractor should have insurance, workers compensation coverage, and a professional license. Ask for these three things and take the time to verify their credentials. 
  • Go Local: There are mobile roofing companies that are a bit like “storm chasers”. These companies will be gone as quick as they came, and you’ll be left on your own. When you choose a local company, you have a partner you can call in the future with questions or concerns. 
  • Look Past Numbers: It’s easy to choose a contractor based only on the price. The cheapest option is rarely the best one. Cheap bids drive down the market and are only focused on volume. Hire based on quality, not price. 
  • Look for Companies Who Know Their Codes: You want someone who is familiar with both permits and codes in your local area. Ensure the company you’re working with is capable and willing to file for any necessary permits, so you’re not left scrambling. 
  • Look for Safety Protocols: The last thing you want is a contractor who is injured on your property. Ask about safety protocols and training to be sure each roofer will be safe while at your home.
  • Ask for Past Work: Always ask for references of other homes they have worked on and other homeowners who are willing to vouch for them. Even better if they can provide examples of the same work of the need completed on your home. 
  • Check Online Reviews: Today, more than ever, you can learn a lot about a company by what you read online. Check online reviews – be sure to check the dates on the review and look for current work. 
  • Ask Your Friends: While online reviews can be helpful, it’s often more reliable to ask people that you know and trust in real life for their own recommendations. This can be a good way to narrow down your choices and decide which companies to consider and which to avoid. 
  • Get It in Writing: To protect both you and the roofing company, make sure that all aspects of the job and the price are well understood. Get all of your expectations in writing including all the details of the work they intend to do. By setting clear expectations, it’s easier to avoid frustrations.

8 Question You Should Ask While Hiring a Roofing Contractor 

Too many homeowners allow price to dictate the contractor they choose. If you go with a less expensive roofing company with zero references and low-budget materials, you’re going to end up with a substandard installation. Instead, do your homework and research your roofing company completely before making a decision. 

When you call the company, ask the following questions: 

  1. What is the full name and physical address of the company? Be sure they are local, or at least have a local office nearby. 
  2. Is the company insured? Specifically ask about liability and worker’s compensation insurance. Ask for these certificates so you can verify coverage with the company. 
  3. What are their credentials? Ask about their experience, education, specific licensing, any specialized training or partnerships that speak to their contractor credentials. 
  4. Do you have references? Ask for homeowners that would be willing to speak with you about their experience with the company. 
  5. What products do you recommend? Research the brands they recommend ensuring they are using products with a high-quality reputation. 
  6. What about unplanned repairs? You want to know what the plan is if something unexpected pops up during the process and how those repairs will be handled. 
  7. Do you offer long term support? Will they be around a few years from now if you have another question. 
  8. Do you offer a warranty? Be sure to ask about the warranty on their labor as well as the manufacturer’s warranty on the product. 

Roofing Contractor Proposals: What to Look For?

When you have a roofing company visit your home to give you an estimate, look over their proposal carefully. It can be overwhelming to discuss your job with a contractor when you don’t know the lingo or details. Be sure you use a contractor who explains each item clearly and provides a proposal you understand. Don’t sign anything until you feel completely comfortable with the following: 

  • Materials: Know the specific brand, style, and color of materials are going to be used in each area of your repair or installation. 
  • Scheduling: Understand exactly the schedule of repairs for your project. Know when they will begin, how long the repair or installation will take, and when they expect to be completely finished. 
  • Explanation of Liabilities: You should have a complete knowledge of any risks you’re taking on with your project.  
  • How Waste Will be Removed: This is especially important if you’re using a roofing company to peel off your old roof and installing a new one. Ensure that your old roofing material won’t be left on your property. 
  • Explanation of Warranty: Ask about specific warranty details on both the materials and the installation. 
  • Payment: If you’re filing an insurance claim, it will be up to you to get payment from your insurance company and then pay the roofing company. Be clear about what the cost will be, when payment is due, and how payment is to be remitted. 
  • Additional Costs: Ask about any additional costs that you should be aware of or prepared for.

How To Spot a Bad Roofing Contractor

If you know what to look for, spotting a bad contractor is very easy. There are some telling signs that will be clear red flags to move on and choose a different roofing company. 

  • They don’t or can’t provide written estimates: Never sign anything that doesn’t have a clear estimate of the scope of work and the cost for the project.
  • They don’t tell you the brands they use. Your contractor should know every detail about the products they use in their repairs and installations. If your contractor is unsure or unwilling to talk about the brands they use, walk away.
  • They offer a same-day price deal. Don’t ever feel pressure to sign a deal with a roofing company. They should offer you the same price whether you sign the contract today or tomorrow. If they are pressuring you to sign today, there’s probably a reason.
  • They don’t have online reviews. All reputable companies should have a professional website and company reviews online. If they don’t have either one, that’s a reason to keep shopping for a different roofing company.
  • They aren’t local. Always use a local company. Don’t use a company that is based in a different state. You want someone who will be there long-term to support any future repairs you may need.

How To Differentiate Between Good Roof and Bad Roofs 

As you evaluate the website photos, portfolio or references provided by your roofing company, there are a few things to look for. These details will help you develop an expert eye to notice quality roofs from subpar workmanship.

Signs of a good roofing job:

  • A good roof looks uniform across the entire surface. There are no areas of uneven shingles, lifting or sagging. 
  • The drip edge is often a telling sign. Bad contractors often mess up installing a drip edge. This is the metal flashing that fits between the underlayment and shingles. It is an important part of roofing, as it ensures waterproofing, prevents pests and ensures gutters are secure.
  • Proper Flashing is Used. Water leaks are the largest cause of roof damage and are often due to flashing. Poor contractors will try replacing metal flashing with ineffective caulk or roof cement. Be sure the company uses quality metal flashing and doesn’t try to take shortcuts.
  • Quality Underlayment: This can be difficult to see from a finished roof, but ask for photos of the underlayment and look for a strong synthetic underlayment.

Signs of a bad roofing job:

  • The roof doesn’t have a uniform appearance. The shingles are off, there are areas of sagging or the lines don’t look straight. 
  • The chimney is lacking flashing. Flashing that is missing, replaced with lesser materials, or looks like it has been used before. \
  • A poor nailing job. Check for the quality of the nails themselves, and nails that have been hammered too hard into the shingle layer. 
  • Old material being reused. You want your roof repair to use new materials from a quality manufacturer. Old materials should never be used on any repair or installation. 
  • Visible rotted parts of your roof. You may be surprised to see many low-quality roofers don’t check the deck and install a new roof over a rotting roof deck. This is a disaster waiting to happen. 

Benefits Of Hiring a Professional Roofing Contractor 

While no two roofing companies are created equal, it pays off to take your time and research your options. Not only will your research help you make a better choice in hiring a roofing company, but you’ll also enjoy these additional benefits: 

  • Enhanced work safety from the crew while on your property. 
  • Knowing your roof utilizes only quality materials.
  • Using a reputable company means quality materials and workmanship which is more cost effective in the long run. 
  • A quality installation you can count on. 
  • Fast and smooth service with a timeline you can count on and a trusting professional relationship. 
  • The expertise of experienced contractors to give you confidence in your home repair. 
  • Multiple payment options including insurance assistance or payment plans if necessary.

FAQs About Roofing Contractors

The National Association of State Contractors Licensing Agencies (NASCLA) maintains a list of licensing boards. You can search on their website for contractors by name and check their licensing. 

Absolutely. You can always negotiate before signing a contract. Discuss your budget with your roofing contractor and be sure everything is in writing and within your budget. 

The best place to start is with your insurance company. Call your insurance agent first, and then the contractor. Keep cleanup to a minimum and move on to another company to finish the job. 

There are many options for quality products, but some companies have brand loyalty to specific products. Your trusted local roofing company can explain the right material for your project and why they use the brands they represent.

Start by doing your homework. Get a detailed quote and contact referrals. When you feel comfortable with the company, their qualifications and their past work, you can feel confident moving forward to getting the work done. 

Looking For a Local, Reputable Roofer?

As with most things, you get what you pay for. Roofing is an industry that requires a lot of skills that are not easily earned. Because your roof represents both a major responsibility and a major investment in your home, it’s critical to choose a quality product.

The last thing you need is to make a major roof investment and deal with endless leaks, missing shingles or cracking materials. The best way to prevent getting a bad roof is by making sure you use a good roofing company. Take it upon yourself to do your homework, choose a contractor you trust and ensure that your contractors do a good job on your roof.