Monday, 10 December 2018
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This Old House - Do-it-Yourself

How to Choose a Roofer

Written by Jaymi Naciri Posted On Wednesday, 10 October 2018 06:00

Fall is a popular time to repair or replace a roof because the summer rush is typically over. But selecting the right roofing company can be more challenging than you might think, and with an expense this large and a project this important, making the right choice is critical.

“Installing a new roof is one of the most important, and expensive, home improvement projects you’ll run into as a homeowner,” said HomeAdvisor. “Considering this, and since your roof is the first line of defense for your home against the elements, it’s important that you hire the best roofing company possible. Roofing contractors are a dime a dozen, so it’s important to follow a few basic rules when finding, choosing, and hiring a roofing contractor.”

These tips will help you make the best decision.

Don’t go with the first offer you get

“You should talk to several roofing companies so you can gauge an honest and reasonable price range. You probably don’t want to make your final hiring decision on a couple hundred dollars for a project that costs several thousand dollars, but you should be wary of any remarkably low or excessively high bids,” said HomeAdvisor. “Of course, this will also help give you plenty of opportunity to build rapport and trust and to adhere to the other rules for hiring a roof contractor.”

Don’t go with the lowballer

Yeah, that low bid sounds too good to be true, right? It probably is. “The cheapest bid probably isn’t your best bet,” said Bob Vila. “Of course, the estimates issued are a factor to consider. But more important is your level of confidence in a given roofer’s ability to do an outstanding job. If you’re impressed by a company that isn’t the cheapest, ask yourself, ‘How much is peace of mind worth to me?’ For many homeowners, it’s worth quite a lot.”

Check their credentials

You’ll want to see a roofer’s BBB rating, read any online reviews, and also ask how long they have been in business. Longevity is important! “If a roofing company has been around for a while, it is a good sign they will provide quality service,” said Mr. Roof. “That kind of commitment shows the company is dedicated to their work and respects the people for whom they work. Substandard contractors have a hard time keeping business going for a long time.”

Go with a local company

“Use a roofing company that’s ‘local,’ especially after a bad storm. A quality roofer that’s familiar with your area will get the right permits,” said Ernie Smith & Sons. “They’ll be familiar with local roofing installation codes and procedures. And they’ll also know about local trends in roof styles and products, and building materials in general. In our hurricane prone Houston/Galveston area for example it’s important to be familiar with (and contact) the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association. All coastal counties are required to have all new roofs inspected by either a qualified engineer or a Texas Department of Insurance inspector. These inspectors ensure that roofing products are installed per manufacturer’s guidelines, particularly for high wind areas. There’s no happy way of getting around this—you won’t get insurance, and non-compliance can affect your mortgage and other things. Sometimes the only remedy for ‘failure to comply’ is to re-do the roof all over again (unfortunately that’s not uncommon). Also, reputable local area roofers have strong affiliations with local suppliers and insurance agents, which means faster and better service—priceless when a really bad storm blows through.”

Make sure they’ll work within your homeowner’s association rules (HOA)

You may encounter a roofer who insists that there’s no need to get signoff from your HOA because the color of the new roof matches what’s already in the neighborhood. That’s a good way to anger your HOA to the point of getting fined and maybe even receiving a demand that you remove the roof and start over with approved materials. In many neighborhoods that have HOAs, you need official permission before you begin, even if you’re putting up the exact same roof that you already have. Waiting for the thumbs up may delay the installation a bit, but it's better than the alternative. Unless your roof situation is emergent and your HOA is not acting expediently, this is generally not an “ask for forgiveness, not permission” situation.

Be wary of storm chasers

Stories abound of people door-knocking in neighborhoods that have been impacted by storms, trying to drum up business. “Also known as roofing gypsies, these roofers travel around the country following the paths of storms, looking for homeowners to exploit,” said Angie’s List. The chasers “know how the insurance companies work, and based on the square footage of the roof, they can figure out how much it will cost to put on a cheap new roof. The homeowner gets burned because the storm chaser only does the bare minimum to replace the roof, but doesn’t address any other problems, or restore the roof to its original condition. The homeowner is then left with a poorly constructed roof, and the fraudulent company that was once so ready to help has vanished.”

Don’t work with someone who demand the entire balance upfront

This is a red flag, and may well end up in you getting ripped off. “You don’t get your paycheck until after you’ve punched the clock, so why pay a roofer before any work gets done? A roofer has no incentive to follow through with the work once the cash is already in his pocket,” said Absolute Roofers. “Make sure you sign a contract first, stating that he’ll get paid once the work is done. If he still tries to get you to pay up front, it’s time to tell him to hit the highway.”

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