A new roof is a considerable investment, and the materials take up a small chunk of it. Skilled labor is mainly what you’re paying for. That means you have to choose someone wisely.
Sounds simple? Not exactly. Anyone can try working like a roofer, but not everyone is actually qualified.
Finding Good Prospects
Look in the yellow pages only if you can’t get a referral from someone you know and trust. Have at least two or three prospects, each one having been in business for five years no less. In such a competitive industry, only good roofers usually last that long. Start by asking about availability. Ask for client references as well, and drop anyone who won’t provide any.
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. Check the shingles – are they trimmed in a clean line as they run along the valleys? Shingles on roof ends have to be neatly trimmed too, aligning with the roof’s 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’ve seen, start calling the references, making sure to ask crucially relevant questions. For instance, has the roof ever leaked since it was installed? If so, was the roofer prompt in responding to your call? Were you on budget or in excess of it? Most importantly, would you work with the roofer again in the future?
Signs of a Good Roofer
After finding some really good prospects, see if they carry workers’ compensation insurance and at least $1 billion of liability insurance. If they claim to be insured, let them show you proof-of-insurance certificates. Then get a quote, which should be totally free. As roofing is a one-time job, split the total amount into two payments – usually, a third of it is paid upfront (to cover the cost of materials), and the rest as the projects moves along 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. Get the highest rated, most durable shingles that fit your budget. 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. If you’re installing an asphalt roof, you can expect it to last up to around 13 years, so getting a 20-year warranty would be a treat.