Hiring a roofing contractor doesn’t have to be a bad experience. But you are going to be spending a significant amount of money on your roofing project and there are a number things you can do to ensure the money is well spent.
Right off the bat, the best advice I can give is to make sure you get more than one estimate or quotation. I recommend this to people all the time, that they get at least three separate quotes from different contractors. This is particularly important with seniors, who seem to be a favoured target of less than reputable contractors. Roofing companies seem to be notorious for fly-by-night operations that are here today and gone tomorrow.
Word of mouth, from others, can be a good source of contact when making up a list of contractors to approach, but don’t settle on just one person’s opinion about a contractor. If the contractor is reputable, he won’t mind giving you a list of client’s he’s worked for in the last couple of years. A complete list of clients with a dozen or more names is better than having him give you a couple of his preferential references. It puts you in the driver’s seat to be able to randomly pick a few names for referral purposes.
Prices and quality of work can vary significantly between contractors. It’s important to compare ‘apples to apples’. The lowest price is not necessarily the best deal. Be wary of contractors who don’t itemize, in writing, the products and services they provide. It is difficult to know what you are getting for your dollar if you can’t actually see it. A lump sum price without details would make me concerned, particularly if they didn’t spend much time measuring and assessing your roof.
It is very important to get a performance history of the contractor you choose before making any kind of commitment. Besides his client list, it is important to contact your local Better Business Bureau to find out if there have been any complaints lodged against that company. A contractor can make all kinds of claims about himself that can sound very convincing, but it needs to be backed up with some kind of evidence of work and performance history.
Besides a contractors history, there are a few things to consider that, in my opinion, are red flags that a contractor may give you more grief than he’s worth. A poorly written and detailed job estimate is one that I have already mentioned. Setting up and operating a company involves considerable expense and therefore considerable commitment. A company that is committed to it’s reputation has much to lose with poor performance. With that in mind, you should consider and inform yourself about the following as well:
- Is it a registered company, a legitimate business with the government, does it have it’s business number showing on the estimate? The first part of a GST number is a company’s registered business number.
- Do they have a local business permit that they can show you?
- Do they have roofer insurance … commercial liability insurance?
- Are their employees legally covered under worker’s compensation? Can they show you their account number? Where I live, with their account number, you can check the status of their account on-line to ensure that it’s current.
- How much advertising do they do? Advertising is a fairly significant expense.
- What does their roofing equipment look like? Is it well kept? Are they well equipped to handle the work? Again, equipment is a big expense and a well equipped crew will probably complete the job better and more efficiently.
- How many years have they been in business? How many years in your town?
- What sort of training do they provide their employees? How experienced are the staff?
- Do they have a safety program set up for their employees?
The list could probably go on, but I believe what I’ve given you here will serve you fairly well in filtering out the roofing contractors that may give you poor value for the money you are about to spend. My hope and intention is to be helpful and informative.
In my next post I will give you a list of tools and equipment that you will need to complete a roofing project. You can do a roof with a minimal amount of equipment or you can go fully equipped. Many items are available for rental. I will explain the various options and provide you with the benefits and pitfalls of each one.