Choosing the professional who is going to install, repair, or replace the roof of your home or business isn’t something that most people give a great deal of thought to, yet it’s probably one of the most important decisions that you’ll make all year long.
Think about it. Your roof is the first line of defense standing between you and the elements. Not to mention the first line of protection for the largest single investment you’ll probably ever make. Should you trust it to someone you picked at random out of the Yellow Pages, or an itinerant handyman who was cruising the neighborhood in his pickup truck?
We didn’t think so.
As with any major purchase, you need to do your homework. Talk to neighbors, friends, co-workers, and family. Ask who did the roofs on their homes (if applicable, of course) and find out if they are satisfied with the quality of workmanship that they did, and how well their roof is holding up. (The average useful service life of a roof is fifteen years, just so you know.) Better yet, get at least two different recommendations from two different sources.
In fact, most experts tend to agree that you should only let your fingers do the walking through the Yellow Pages as an absolute last resort. Once you locate a prospect, find out how long they’ve been in business. Five years should be the absolute minimum. Shoddy workmen don’t usually last that long in business. Don’t be shy about asking them for references. Do a drive-by of some recent jobs they’ve handled. Pay particular attention to the quality of workmanship and how well the seams all line up. Look for neat, tar-free flashing in the roof valleys and on the eaves. Also, shingles should be neatly, professionally trimmed to make them line up with the roof edge. Ragged edges are one sure sign of sloppy workmanship. It might not even be a bad idea to ring the doorbell and ask the homeowner how satisfied they are (or aren’t) with the job that the roofer did.
Here are questions that you should ask the homeowners and references:
- Would you have any reservations about hiring this roofer again, or recommending them to friends and family?
- Have there been any leaks since the job was done? If this has been the case, did the contractor respond promptly, courteously, and professionally?
- Were there any additional charges involved?
- Did the contractor bring the job in on budget? If not, how much were the overages? Was s/he able to document/justify the additional costs?
- Did the contractor damage or destroy any shrubbery, flowers, or other landscaping? Did they leave any nails on the driveway or in the lawn?
Quality professionals like Master Renovations use powerful rolling magnets to successfully any stray nails, thereby preventing flat tires and tetanus shots.
(We’ve also helped more than one homeowner find a long-lost piece of jewelry in the process!)
- Was there a foreman on-site to answer any questions or concerns that you may
- Have had during both the tear-off and shingle installation phases of the job?
- Were both the foreman and the roofers neat, clean, and professionally dressed?
One other thing, you’ll also want to check and make sure that the contractor maintains a minimum of $1 million in liability insurance. You know, just in case.
And, of course, be sure to check their schedule. It’s a gnawing aggravation to hire a contractor for a job, only to discover that they’re booked solid and can’t get to your roof for six months or a year.