What to Look For

 Not All Roofing Companies are Created Equal

Your roof is a substantial investment; and not something to be undertaken by an under-insured or sub-par contractor. You’re likely to depend on your roofer not only for labor to complete the job, but also to guide you in the decision making process and finally, expect them to stand behind their work. Obviously, there isn’t a stock answer in determining who you should hire for your roofing project. But here are some things to consider when choosing a roofing company.

Address. Do they have a physical address or only a post office box? Not only does listing just a P.O. Box send up a red flag; hiring a business you know is nearby will help ensure a quicker response should you have an issue.

Insurance. Ask to view the potential contractor’s certificates of insurance. They should carry comprehensive liability insurance as well as worker’s compensation insurance and will happily forward verification to you. The legal name of the contractor may offer a clue about the level of insurance they carry. Companies that claim to do roofing along with siding, windows and other home improvements may be attempting to pay lower workman’s compensation rates (roofing entails an extremely high insurance cost). They are taking a major risk by short changing workman’s compensation coverage.

Uninsured contractors are likely to be less expensive to hire because they are not incurring the high cost of insurance. But beware, if a worker is injured on your property, the property owner may be held liable for all associated costs unless his employer is insured through worker’s compensation. Although an uninsured or underinsured contractor may be less expensive to hire, ask yourself whether that is a risk you want to take.

Licenses and Credentials. If a potential contractor says he has a license, ask him to verify. A business license is necessary for tax purposes and has nothing to do with his qualifications as a roofer. State and local licenses will indicate whether the roofer you’re considering is qualified for commercial or residential projects and whether there are any limits on what work they can perform. In Illinois, all roofers’ state licenses begin with the numeric digits “104″. That should be clearly evidenced on all proposals and estimates received from the contractor.

Credentials may be given to contractors in addition to state and/or local licenses. Several roofing manufacturers offer credentials to contractors based on history of workmanship and knowledge. Such credentials can be considered a further indication of the roofer’s professionalism, knowledge and dedication to the roofing industry.

Length in Business and References. Generally, the longer a company is in business is usually a plus. However, references and proof of insurances may indicate a new business is viable.

Don’t be afraid to ask for photos of completed work, if available. Also, be sure to request names and phone numbers of customers from the past year or two. Randomly pick from this list to call, and ask questions!

Workmanship Warranty. Ask potential contractors about their warranties. Such a warranty should address the intent and ability of the roofer to stand behind their workmanship. The industry standard for workmanship warranties offered by a roofing contractor is five years. (This is not to be confused with longer workmanship warranties extended by the manufacturer.) Be wary of contractors who offer long workmanship warranties (say 10 years) even though they have been in business for only a few years!

Ask the provided referrals questions that will speak to whether the workmanship warranty offered is justified; was the contractor responsive to requested changes, perform his work on a timely basis, care about the customer’s interests and would they deem the company trustworthy.

The product used on your roof will be covered by a manufacturer’s warranty. The contractor will offer the workmanship warranty. Under certain circumstances, the manufacturer will also warrant the contractor’s workmanship – ask for details and copies of the warranties, and ask for explanations of all warranties offered!

Business Practices. How does the contractor solve customer complaints or problems? Has his license ever been suspended, and if so, why? Check with the Better Business Bureau and state and local licensing departments to see if any complaints have been filed against the contractors you are considering. Even though a contractor may have been involved with a dispute, if it was resolved satisfactorily, the problem may not be an issue of concern.

Carefully read the entire estimate and proposal the roofer you are considering should have given you. Did it clearly state they are responsible for acquiring any applicable permits? If the contractor asks you to obtain permits, it is usually an indication they aren’t licensed to work in that county or town. Also, as part of the proposal, is a Home Repair: Know Your Consumer Rights leaflet included? This is required by Illinois State Law and its receipt must be acknowledged by signature, which the contractor performing the work will keep on file.

For more information, read CertainTeed’s brochure, Choosing a Professional Roofer. Not only will you find additional details about choosing a roofer, you’ll also find useful information about what should be included in a proposal or estimate from a potential roofer. By doing your homework first, it will help ensure your project is completed to your satisfaction by a contractor you can count on.

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