Many homeowners have spent little or no time walking on their roof, and most do not know all the components that comprise a roofing system. Unscrupulous roofing contractors often take advantage of a customer's lack of knowledge to sell unnecessary services or products, cut corners on the job, or leave the customer liable for charges that the contractor should have covered. Your roof is vital to the structural integrity and comfort of your home, so it is important to ensure that any contractor you hire for a roof replacement or repair is reputable and experienced.
Learn which questions can help you determine whether the contractor you are considering is the one you should hire.
“Are You Licensed?”
In the state of Florida, all roofing contractors must be licensed by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. Certified licenses allow contractors to work anywhere in the state, but registered licenses only allow contractors to work in counties or cities in which they hold a license. If the contractor you are considering only has a registered license, make sure that it is valid for your location.
To obtain a license, applicants must have a minimum of four years of relevant experience or formal education. They must also pass a criminal background check and an exam to prove their knowledge. Therefore, you can feel more secure knowing that a licensed contractor has the knowledge and skills to perform the work correctly.
“What Insurance Do You Carry?”
To obtain a roofing license, contractors must have at least workers' compensation and general liability insurance. There are other types of insurance that your contractor may carry, including an umbrella policy that could help cover claims that exceed the limits of his vehicle or general liability insurance. Your contractor should be able to provide you with proof that his workers' comp policy covers every employee who will be working on your property as well as evidence that other policies are valid.
Without insurance, if the contractor or his crew members damage your vehicle, landscaping, or home, you could have difficulty collecting for repairs. If he does not carry workers' comp, an injured employee could seek redress from you.
“Who Will Perform the Actual Work?”
Some roofing contractors subcontract their work. If the contractor does not pay the subcontractor, it is possible that a lien could be placed on your property or that you could be sued for payment. Other contractors use temporary workers or day laborers; workers' comp insurance does not cover these workers, so you could be held liable if one of them is injured on your job. You will have no way of knowing whether these workers have the experience and skills to do the job right. The ideal contractor has a staff of permanent employees with the training to deliver quality work in a safe, professional manner.
“What Is Your Contact Information?”
An established roofing contractor will have a physical address and permanent phone number, and they will usually have a website and email address as well. This information should appear on the contractor's written quote or business card. Look for a local contractor. Contractors based in another state may be unlicensed and uninsured, and they will frequently be difficult to reach if their work proves unsatisfactory.
“How Will You Access My Roof?”
Ladders need to be carefully positioned to avoid damage to the gutters. Most contractors use standoffs or stabilizers to protect gutters. If the contractor you are considering does not, ask them to provide you with an explanation of the steps the team will take to ensure that your gutters remain undamaged.
“Do You Guarantee Your Work?”
Two types of warranties may be involved in your roof work. Manufacturers warrant their products to be free of manufacturing defects, but these warranties may not cover removal and disposal costs. Furthermore, if the contractor did not install the product as specified by the manufacturer, the warranty may be declared void. The second type of warranty is issued by the roofing contractor to cover their workmanship. Be sure to get copies of all warranties for your files.
Questions for Roof Replacements
The above questions apply to both repairs and replacements, but there are a few additional questions you need to ask if you are getting a full roof replacement.
- 1“Will you remove my old shingles?” Removing the existing roof allows the contractor to make any necessary repairs to the roof deck.
- 2“How much do you charge for a sheet of plywood?” Experienced contractors can often identify some areas of damaged decking, but there is no way to ascertain the full extent of the damage until the old roof is removed. You need to know exactly how much each decking panel will increase the cost of your job.
- 3“Who pays for the dumpster rental and disposal fees?” In most cases, the contractor will include these costs in your quote, but asking ensures you do not get any unpleasant surprises.
- 4“Will you install drip edge?” Drip edge is a piece of metal positioned under a shingle to direct runoff into the gutters. Without drip edge, the water can flow behind the gutters, potentially damaging your fascia boards and siding.