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Hiring a Roofer? Know These 5 Important Questions to Ask a Contractor

A roof is a vital component of a home. Roofs provide shelter from the elements of nature and the actions of humans and animals.

Even cave dwellers used the natural divide of mountainous rocks to their advantage. As the evidence from a recently discovered cave complex reveals, the caves date back from 5300 – 3900 BC.

Before asphalt shingles, roofers used to lay a fabric in place before they coated it with a sticky substance, not unlike pine tar. The roofing industry is still one that is continuously evolving and improving, though, which is why it’s essential to know the right questions to ask a contractor.

Do you want to learn how to vet a potential roofing company by knowing which questions to ask? Here’s a guide that’ll help you hire the best professional roofers.

Questions to Ask a Contractor Before You Hire Them

There’s a lot of variety in the roofing industry, which is why every customer should prepare questions for contractors before they choose who to hire. Let’s take a look at 5 of the most important questions to ask.

1. What Are Your Licenses and Credentials?

Find out whether or not the professional roofers you’re looking to hire are licensed by the city and the state. States, cities, and even counties all have different regulations as to whether or not contractors must obtain a license to work. Make sure you ask about any other credentials, including certificates that speak to their fields of expertise.

You wouldn’t necessarily want to hire a roofer with their license in carpentry, for example. Keep in mind that a business license alone isn’t enough. Just because individuals know how to build a business doesn’t mean they are credentialed or licensed for a roofing job.

Any professional roofer shouldn’t have an issue allowing you to verify that their license is up to date and without any outstanding violations.

Plus, many roofers enlist in special roofing manufacturer training that gives them an advantage over other companies. For example, a roofing contractor who has outstanding credentials with reputable manufacturers might be able to offer you a better warranty than another contractor.

Licensed vs. Unlicensed Roofers

Many states require all roofers to be licensed. In Tennessee, a license is required for any roofing project that’s $25,000 or more. It is possible to hire an unlicensed roofer, but it’s not recommended for a few crucial reasons.

No license could mean no insurance, which means you’re liable should a worker get injured or if your home becomes damaged. If you get into a dispute with a licensed roofing company, all you have to do is call their licensing agency, and the agency will help mediate.

If you have an issue with an unlicensed contractor, though, you’ll have to file a civil lawsuit. Lawsuits cost money, and even if you do decide to take legal action, your choices are still limited.

No license could also mean that the roofers aren’t bonded. A bonded contractor has insurance that provides you with compensation should that contractor not complete the job as you’ve agreed upon.

No license can also mean low-quality work. Any licensed roofer must demonstrate minimum industry training standards and work experience. If a contractor is unlicensed, you can’t be sure about the quality of their work.

Without a license, a contractor’s work won’t necessarily be up to code, especially since licensed contractors get tested on their knowledge of building codes.

If you choose to sell your home and an inspector discovers your roof isn’t code-compliant, you’ll be responsible for any required repairs, and your home’s property value will likely decrease.

The primary advantage of hiring an unlicensed roofer is that costs are typically much lower. Ask yourself, though, is the lower cost worth the potential future costs and issues that hiring an unlicensed roofer could incur?

When you ask your roofing contractor about their licenses, be sure to ask about insurance too.

2. Do You Have Insurance?

All roofing contractors must have workman’s compensation and liability insurance to protect you, the homeowner, should a worker sustain an injury on the job. Roofing contractors should also have an insurance plan that protects your home or building from any damage caused by roofers during the replacement or repair of your roof.

Even though an uninsured contractor might charge less, if you hire them for your roofing needs, you run the risk of being held responsible for potential injuries and damages that occur on the job.

A business license only covers a few thousand dollars of damage. Insurance is always a necessity.

3. What Are the Details of the Cost and the Warranty?

The Better Business Bureau advises customers never to pay the full price for contracting work upfront. Any reputable contractor won’t ask you to do so, either.

Communication is a key element of establishing the price and payment schedule from the beginning. Don’t be afraid to ask for an assessment and a detailed estimate, and make sure it’s clear what’s due and when.

If you agree to a payment schedule, make sure payment dates and amounts are clear cut and agreed upon by both parties.

When you discuss the payment terms, make sure you ask about a warranty. Any professional roofing services should offer a warranty for their work, and typically a roof warranty lasts for a year. Some roofers, however, offer longer warranties.

Keep in mind that there are 2 separate warranties. Your contractor should provide a warranty for both the work and the materials from the manufacturer.

Be sure to establish a timeline too. Issues arise, and there’s always a possibility that a job will take longer than originally expected, but any professional roofer should still be able to provide an estimated timeline.

4. Who Will Be Working on My Roof and How Will We Communicate?

It’s not unheard of for contracting companies to work on multiple roof projects at a time, so it’s acceptable for you to be curious about who will be working on your roof each day. Here are some questions to ask:

  • Will the same crew be working on my house every day?
  • Will you be the project manager? If not, who will be, and what will they oversee each day?
  • Do you work with any subcontractors? If so, do they possess the same qualifications as you, and are they covered under your insurance?

Make sure you establish your means of communication early. The very first conversation you have with your potential contractor, both on the phone and in-person, are clear indications of what communication will be like going forward.

To be sure, ask who your main point of reference will be and how often you’ll touch base. Find out who you should alert should any issue arise.

5. Can You Provide Examples of Past Work?

If a contractor can’t give you examples of local job sites where you can view prior work, take it as a red flag. In the age of technology, a reputable roofer should have a portfolio of legitimate roofing jobs to boast and show on their website.

At the very least, they should be able to provide you with references or direct you to homes they’ve improved or built in the past so that you can get an idea of their work. Customer testimonials will provide insight into factors like their professionalism, communication skills, reliability, and consistency.

Optional Questions

If you want to give your potential roofer the full interview, here are some additional questions you shouldn’t hesitate to ask:

  • How long have you been in business?
  • What is your working day like?
  • How will your team clean up at the end of each day?
  • How and where will you store your tools and materials while the job is ongoing?
  • How will you protect your workers and my property?
  • What if additional costs come up?
  • How do you handle disagreements?

Know Which Questions to Ask a Contractor

Figuring out how to pay for a new roof can be daunting at first, and many homeowners are tempted by the lower prices that unlicensed contractors tend to offer. That lower quote, however, also comes with a price.

You could end up losing out significantly in the long run if your roofing contractor isn’t licensed and insured. Knowing which questions to ask a contractor will ensure you hire the right person for the job and have peace of mind along the way.

Are you ready to further protect the people and contents of your home by getting your roof repaired or replaced by licensed professionals who take pride in their work? You can request an estimate here or contact us with ANY questions or concerns!

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