Choosing a Roofing Contractor:

Nailing Down the Best Roofer for Your Job

“The roof might fall in; anything could happen.” – Dashiell Hammett

You’ve probably heard the old saying, authored by the late American author, Dashiell Hammett.  The sad thing is, it’s true.  And when your roof does fall in, or has some serious issues, it’s even sadder that you become a target for those with shady intents.

There are a number of factors that make the roofing industry one of the hardest hit by scam artists and rip-off cons.  The biggest problem is that having a leaky or unstable roof requires hasty action because like Hammett warned – it just might fall in.

Hasty actions breed poor decisions.  There’s no time to mill over all the facts.  Something has to be done – quickly!

Here is a comprehensive guideline that will help ensure you nail down the right roofer instead of getting hammered yourself:

Signs of Shady Dealings

Storm chasers come with warning labels attached.  Storm chasers are those creeps who show up at your door after a tornado has ravished your area or in the wake of a hurricane.  They rarely wear worn-out, dirty t-shirts with a pack of cigarettes rolled up in the cuff and dark shades over their eyes.

Nope.  They dress for success – nice uniforms with the company logo proudly plastered across them.  They come bearing neatly organized tool pouches and all the other trimmings.  These characters are some of the seemingly friendliest, most knowledgeable guys in the business.  It just happens to be in the wrong business – the business of ripping you off!

Word of warning – If it sounds too good to be for real, IT IS!

Tips to the Wise: Sifting out the Good Guys

While it’s easy to get taken advantage of in your time of need, it’s also easy enough to avoid with these trusted tips:

Local licensing is a must.  Generally, imposters come from outside your local area.  They wouldn’t last long if they stay in one place for very long, so…they don’t.   The first question you should ask a roofing company that you are considering for your roofing job is where their office is located.  Don’t take their word for it, ask to see their license.

Since cons are good at what they do, it’s up to you to fully verify the information on the license (providing they really have a license and not just a lame excuse).

Even if a roofing contractor’s license is valid, there are some things you should be aware of.  States vary in their roofing and licensing requirements.  There are states that don’t even call for roofers to be licensed.  Other states are super strict.  Testing is often a factor in attaining a license as is providing documentation, like proof of insurance.

Here’s where things get really tricky.  A contractor may be fully licensed and insured in his area but not in yours.  That is why it’s imperative to hire a local roofer.

Another twist is that a contractor may be licensed in one line of work but not in another.  A roofing contractor may have no authority to do your electrical repair.  That is fine as long as you know beforehand and make the necessary arrangements to hire an electrician too.

Local references are priceless.  After making sure the roofing company potentially doing your job is local and legit, you’ll want to pin down some local references.  If the company tells you they did Mr. Jones’ roof right down the street, go and speak with him.  Ask if they did a good job and if he had any problems with the work, with the workers, or with the company.

Look online for reviews which are not on the roofing company websites.  It’s not difficult to fudge raving reviews so neutral site feedback is much more valid.  Ask your family members, friends, neighbors, and even online community groups for recommendations.  If you have a specific company in mind, ask if anyone has any input about them.

Local bonding is imperative.  Did you know there’s a difference between being bonded as opposed to being insured?  A lot of homeowners don’t realize that one is for their protection and the other is the company’s assurance.  When you hire a company that is bonded, you are covered if they fail to complete the job or they don’t live up to their part of the bargain such as not getting the necessary permits or not paying for home supplies he agreed to cover.  Bonding also entails the coverage of any damage that might be done to your property.  In the event that any of those things go wrong and the company is not bonded in your location, it’s all on you.  To be on the safe side, you can place a call to the surety company that is on record.

Insurance is designed to be an umbrella of protection for the company.  It is also beneficial to you so the company you are dealing with doesn’t lose its shirt and end up bailing.  We’ll cover that more in the next tip.

Be insightful on insurance.  While insurance mainly protects the company, it does also protect the consumer.  If a worker is injured on your property and the company you hired to do the job isn’t insured, guess who is liable?  In addition, in the event something unspeakable happens, like the roof actually does fall in and the company doesn’t have insurance, you can easily be stuck out because the roofing company is likely to sky off.  Insurance coverage is another thing that can vary from area to area and from state to state so when you verify the insurance, so be sure to ask for the area of coverage as well as other details like the amount of coverage and the dates of coverage.  You would be shocked at how many companies operate off lapsed policies.

Don’t cave under pressure. One of the oldest tactics in the book used by con artists is to make you feel like if you don’t act immediately, you’ll lose out.  They may tell you the low price is only effective if you sign on the dotted line right then or that you’re in imamate danger if you don’t hire them to begin instantly.  Reputable companies will never rush you.  To the contrary, they will encourage you to check their credentials and review their past work.  They will be proud of the results you will find.  Asking questions shouldn’t be an issue either.  Good companies are happy to answer them and even provide additional knowledge to their customers.

Make sure the company has distinction.  Distinction within a company means that they have a manufacturer designation.  Simply put, they have an area of expertise.  They have a badge or additional certification that denotes what they specialize in such as being Master Elite.  The Master Elite title is only carried by 2% of all the contractors in a given line of work so it is a true honorary recognition.  Again, don’t just take a badge or certificate at face value, check it out for yourself.  In the event that it doesn’t turn out to be legitimate, that should be a huge red flag.

What does the Better Business Bureau have to say?
It pays to run a Better Business Bureau check out any contractor you have to use, especially in the high-risk roofing industry.  You’ll be able to access information on any past problems like poor workmanship, less than professional business practices, and complaints made against them.  You’ll see their overall score as well.

Don’t get snubbed on subs.  You can hire the best, most reputable, certified, insured, fully credentialed contractor in existence, but if the company relies on the work of a subcontractor, you could be in for a ride.  The practice of contractors hiring subcontractors to do such tasks as electrical or framing work isn’t a bad thing.  In fact, it is what they are supposed to do if the given work exceeds their territory of expertise.  But, that adds a whole different slew of credentials that will need to be verified and approved by you.  And, if you are wise, you’ll follow through with the entire process again.

Does the work warrant a warranty?  If the company offers an extensive warranty on their work and on the materials, you will want to consider it carefully.  An extensive warranty is your protection against work that begins to fall apart just years down the line.  It covers you in a number of scenarios where you could end up with the screws put to you.  Such things do occur, probably more often than you realize.  You may have a warranty coverage through the company but what happens if they go out of business or don’t honor it?  Exactly! That’s why an extensive warranty may be wise.

Scout for an internet presence.  In this day and age, an internet presence is typically a given for any established company.  Do a search online to see if the contractor has a website and/or social media site.  If so, you can learn a good bit about them there.  Do they reach out to share helpful information?  Are their reviews you might could verify?  Many roofing sites even have photos of past roofing jobs.  If the company doesn’t have an online presence, proceed with caution.

Material Matters.  Even “good” companies don’t always use the best supplies.  good after all.  A roofing outfit that passes all the tests of being certified, bonded, insured and even local may use low or average roofing materials.  High quality work is only worthwhile if it is performed with high-quality materials.  Furthermore, a roof is very high profile.  You want to be sure you (and your neighbors) are able to enjoy colors and designs you love, not some that were generically picked for you.  Ask if you’ll be able to choose the details of your new roof.  It’s a huge plus if you can.  You may even want to upgrade or go with a new look, like shingles or metal material.

Fill out and file your own forms.  If a roofing company approaches you with the offer to file your insurance, beware.  While some certainly do have a great reputation in doing so, you want to be sure there is not a false motive behind the act.  Letting a company negotiate your insurance terms can be shady too.  Is there an underlying reason the company wants to “help you out”?  Again, if the contractor is one that has been proven worthy of your trust, this gesture can be a big relief – one less thing you have to deal with.  A company of integrity will transparently share all the details and the paperwork with you.

Fraud.  If a contractor you’re considering for your roofing job so much as suggests doing anything that is not above board, it should be an indication that he is not reputable and reliable.  Getting extra money from your insurance company can be tempting, but don’t fall for it.  It never pays to do the wrong thing.  A company that operates with high standards would never even think of committing fraud or asking you to do so.  If they are open to do such unscrupulous acts along with you, they are certainly capable of committing fraud against you too.


Go with the Pros that Have You Covered

The task of choosing a roofing contractor can be enough to give you a pounding headache.  It’s can be time-consuming and frustrating.  In fact, it can be downright scary.  And all the while, your roof is leaking or damaged.  It might even…fall in.

Taking a little time to go by the tips in this guideline can help save you from ruin though.  Doing your homework will surely pay off because you won’t risk having poor quality of work or completely getting conned.  Not only is it enraging when you get a bad rap on the job, but it’s also expensive because you still have a roof to repair. If the damaged roof is severe, you may be staying at a hotel which jacks the rates up even higher.

Don’t trust your roof to just any company.  With the information you’ve now been given, you can nail down the best.



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