Buying a Roof is a Big Investment.
These Ten Questions will Help to Choose the Right Contractor for the Job.

Can you provide a list of former customers as references?

In addition, ask for bad references. Any Contractor can deliver a list of good references, but not all projects go as planned. Finding out how any business deals with problems is perhaps one of the best indicators of the quality of customer service.


Can you provide me with a current copy of your insurance certificate?

In particular, copies of liability coverage and workers' compensation certificates. Share the insurance certificate with your property agent for coverage and call the issuing agent to confirm it is current. Insurance will necessitate that the contractor makes safety a priority. Using an uninsured roofer can expose the client to untold liability risks.


Can you provide me with copies of proposed assemblies and details from the manufacture’s published literature?

Asking for these documents is like asking for the owner’s manual for your car. This is not only reasonable, but is also sensible. Should you ever want to inspect the roof, these documents will allow you to check for places that are the most common trouble spots on a roof. These documents force honesty from the contractor as to the product you receive, and in addition, manufacturers typically know what detail is going to work best in a given assembly or environment, and force the contractor to use only approved details.


Will you furnish me with a copy of
proposed warranty?

Warranties are in a way a gamble, and just like in a casino the house always has to win. In the roofing industry, this means that warranties are an added-value quality assurance program. Whatever entity is issuing the warranty is in their best self-interest to make absolutely sure that product can live past the terms of the warranty, and even if the property is sold, the warranty still stands, and thus adds a non-negligible value to the roof and thus the property in question as well. Warranties are also very reasonably priced, usually only a few cents per square foot. A 10,000 square foot roof can be warrantied for ten years for as little as $400 dollars.


Will there be sub-contractors?

If so, what are their names and license numbers? If your contractor does hire out a subcontractor, it is a good idea to go over all of these  same questions with them. Of particular interest is insurance; be sure that the subcontractor holds all of the proper insurance, so that you are not held liable for any accident that may occur on the job.


Will you submit a maintenance program for the new roof system?

Roofs are significant investments, and much like other significant investments (automobiles, health), regular check ups can stop problems before they happen. Contractors that offer a maintenance program are standing by their work and taking accountability for the quality of their product. This is ultimately the easiest avenue toward quality customer service in roofing.


Can you provide a list of the manufacturers with which your company is a licensed or approved applicator?

Most roof systems require special application expertise to achieve lasting quality. Every roofing materials manufacturer delivers a slightly different product even among the same types of roofs, and so each particular set of materials requires slightly different methods to achieve the best application. Since manufacturers are the primary issuers of warranties, they license out the use of their product only to approved contractors. Manufacturers also give awards to their best applicators. The nature of a contractor’s relationship with their manufacturers indicates the breadth of their knowledge and craftsmanship.


What type of safety training do you provide for your workers and what industry education programs have they attended?

Safety implies that each employee has an awareness of the ideal construction practices, which lowers the cost of business due to decreased liability as well as provides the means for a better product through working with smarter employees. These sets of training and classes are a measure of not only the contractor’s product, but also the quality of their jobsite practices, and their quality as an employeer. If a company is willing to abuse their own employees by failing to provide them with a safe work environment, how is this company going to treat their customers?


Who will inspect your crew’s work after they have installed our new roof?

Third party inspection is an easy and effective method to insure the quality of the final product. Any contractor worth working with will have the integrity to let their product undergo third party scrutiny. This contributes to the quality of the product, and thus the value of the roof. Any manufacturer will also insist on inspecting a roof (usually both during and after construction) prior to issuing a warranty.


Are you a current member of any local and national roofing associations, i.e. the NRCA, NAHB?

Industries are made up of companies and companies are made up of people. Through the invisible forces of capitalism, the best and brightest minds in a given industry tend to rise to the top, and these industry wide associations are largely made up of the most passionate individuals in a given sector. Companies with effective representation in these associations are typically the leaders of their respective industries. 

Final Note:

Be wary of the lowest bid. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Many fly-by-night contractors' below-cost bids seem attractive, but these contractors often are uninsured and perform substandard work. Cutting costs in the short term can result in massive costs and headaches in the long term. No one can deny the value of simply getting the job done right the first time. As with every product, the customer gets what they pay for. In construction, only the rich can afford to buy cheap.