A new roof is a big investment, and the materials are only a small portion of it.. What you’re really paying for is the skilled labor. That means you have to choose someone wisely.
Sounds easy, right? Probably not. Anyone can talk and act like a roofer, but that doesn’t mean they’re qualified.
Seeking Good Prospects
You can scan the yellow pages but only if you can’t obtain personal referrals from people you know. You should have at least two or three prospects, and each one should have been in business for a minimum of five years. In such a competitive industry, only good roofers usually last that long. Begin by inquiring about availability. As well, ask for names and addresses of references, and if anyone hesitates to give you any, strike them off your list.
Then spend time doing drive-by inspections of some of their recent jobs. See if the spaces between individual shingle tabs, called water gaps, are well-lined up while alternating shingle rows. The shingles also have to be trimmed in a neat line along the valleys. Shingles should be nicely trimmed too so they line up with the roof edge. Any ragged lines indicate slipshod work. You should also find neat, tar-free flashings at the roof valleys and eaves.
If you like what you see, call the references and ask a few crucial questions. For example, has the roof leaked since the day it was installed? If so, did the roofer attend to your concern promptly? Were you on budget or in excess of it? Most importantly, would you work with the roofer again in the future?
What to Look for in a Roofer
Once you’ve found a roofer or roofers you particularly like, check if they have workers’ compensation coverage and no less than $1 billion of liability insurance. If they claim to be insured, let them show you proof-of-insurance certificates. Then request an estimate, which should cost you absolutely nothing. Because roofing is a one-time project, divide the total amount into two parts – typically, you have to pay one-third of it upfront (this will be used to purchase the materials) and the remainder will be settled as the project rolls on to your satisfaction.
Also insist on a warranty – usually one year – on all issues related to labor, such as leaks and flashing failure, plus the type of shingles they will use. Go for the most durable, highest rated shingles that you can afford. Warranties are usually voided if shingles are simply placed on top an existing layer, so be ready to pay the extra cost of having that existing layer torn off. Asphalt roofs last an average of about 13 years, so a 20-year warranty would be more than fine.