Installing a new roof is one of the most important—and expensive—home improvement projects you’ll run into as a homeowner. Considering this, and the fact that your roof is your first line of defense against the elements, it’s important you hire a qualified, licensed professional for your roofing repair and installation projects.
There are a number of roofing companies to choose from, so it helps to follow a few basic rules to ensure that you find, choose and hire the best professional for the job.
Talking to several roofing companies will help you identify an honest and reasonable price range. You probably don’t want to hinge your final hiring decision on the difference of a few hundred dollars for a project that costs several thousand dollars, but you should be wary of any remarkably low or excessively high bids. Of course, this will also provide you the opportunity to gauge your level of rapport with each contractor as you work your way through the rest of the rules for hiring a qualified roofing professional.
It’s also important to perform research on the different companies you’re speaking with—particularly those who stand out after your initial conversations. Reputable contractors should be licensed and willing to provide you with at least three references verifying the quality of their work. Confirming that a contractor is licensed—and speaking with past customers who can verify their credibility and qualifications—will give you added peace of mind.
Never sign a contract without reading it over carefully. Professional contractors won’t be annoyed with your taking the time to understand the terms of your agreement—and most will be happy to sit down with you and explain parts you don’t understand. Also, make sure you understand the warranty that comes with your new roof. All materials and workmanship should be guaranteed for at least five years, and the roofing itself ought to come with a 20- to 40-year warranty.
Before work begins, be sure to cover your bases. Check with your contractor about whether you need to acquire a permit (most roofing companies will take care of this as part of their service), and confirm that their employees are covered by workers comp as well. Finally, if you’re submitting an insurance claim on your roof, make certain you’ve followed all the necessary procedures—and undergone all the necessary approvals—before work on your new roof begins.
Never pay the entire balance of your new roof up front. This goes for all large projects. If your contractor asks this of you, terminate your relationship and be sure not to sign a contract. Asking for a reasonable deposit and a payment schedule that parallels the work is common practice. In no case should you ever pay with cash. Using a credit card increases the likelihood that, in a worst-case scenario, you’ll be able to recover your money without expensive litigation.