A roofing contractor is a professional worker who can install, repair, and replace the roofs of homes or commercial buildings. They are professionals that homeowners need in order to ensure that their roofs remain in good condition –– or are repaired properly when necessary. Most homeowners themselves lack the experience or expertise to handle these jobs. Additionally, a professional roofing contractor will know how to install, repair, or replace a roof both safely and efficiently. They will help you to choose the right material, design, and details to ensure a durable and visually appealing result.
Statistics indicate that more homeowners are recognizing the need to have roofing contractors on hand with each passing year. The roofing contractor market size has increased steadily, from just under $40 billion in 2012 to more than $56 billion now. If you too have decided to tap into this market, read on for details on how to find the right roofing contractor.
General Functions of a Roofing Contractor
Broadly speaking, the aforementioned functions –– installation, repair, and replacement –– describe a roofing contractor’s role. However, there are more specific functions to be aware of within these larger jobs. Generally, professional roofing contractors are equipped to perform the following tasks:
- Tile Removal –– Damaged or missing tiles can lead to leaking and ceiling damage. Thus, roofing contractors are often called upon to remove (and replace) tiles that are damaged or missing. A roofing professional will do this by safely accessing the tile and using the proper tools to extract and replace the damaged one.
- Shingle Installation –– To install shingles, a professional roofing contractor will measure the roof carefully; install deck protection to weatherproof the roof; and finally install shingles with high-powered nail guns. They will also lay down tarps around the home in order to catch debris for disposal.
- Siding Cutting & Installation –– A roofing contractor will also measure, cut, and install the siding once shingles are in place. Siding essentially refers to the protective strips laid down on borders and creases on a roof’s design, and is typically made of wood, metal, vinyl, or a hybrid material.
- Tar Application –– Tarring is a step sometimes used on flat roofs as a means of protecting them from the elements. A roofer will measure the area, supply materials, and paint the roof with tar so that rain that doesn’t flow off naturally (as on a slanted roof) does not do damage.
- Rubber Roof Installation –– Rubber roofing is used to cover flat roofs, or those with shapes that make shingle installation difficult. If your home needs a rubber roof, a roofing contractor will measure the area, procure and cut the rubber, and fasten it to the roof as needed.
- Job Estimation –– A professional roofing contractor will also be able to provide an estimation for the cost of the job. This varies tremendously between properties, with the average cost being a little over $7,000. Getting a job estimation in advance will help you to find the right roofing contractor.
Important Things to Consider When Hiring a Roofing Contractor
Most professional roofers will be equipped to perform the functions discussed above. When you are attempting to find the right roofing contractor for your home however, there are additional things that are important to consider:
- Reviews & Reputation –– Considering a roofing company’s reviews and reputation will help you to determine if past customers have been satisfied. Generally, you will be able to find such reviews on sites like Google, Yelp, and Better Business Bureau. In some cases, platforms like Home Advisor, Angi, and Consumer Reviews will also post reviews and feedback for roofers specific to your area.
- Licensing & Insurance –– It is vital to check first that the roofing contractor you’re considering is licensed to perform the work in your state (or in “most states” as some will say, so long as yours is included). This will assure you that the company is legitimate. Additionally, you’ll want to check that the company is insured. If the company has liability insurance, you’ll know that in the event they damage your property, the damage will be covered. They should also have worker’s compensation insurance, which will cover any workers who might be injured performing the job.
- Location –– Check that the roofing contractor you’re considering is local. A local contractor will have a more defined reputation in your area. They will also be easier to contact or find if there’s an issue.
- Cost –– As stated previously, a professional roofing contractor will be able to give you a job estimation (sometimes with a small cost for the initial assessment, though this is not always the case). This will enable you to consider the total cost when making your decision.
- Warranty –– You will also want to be absolutely certain that the roofing company you’re considering offers a warranty. This reassures you that the company will be responsible for any defects with the repair or new roof, at least for a period of time.
Tips That Can Help You Hire a Roofing Contractor
The considerations just listed will help you to narrow down options and determine the quality and reliability of area contractors. There are also some more specific tips that can help you to further assess your options and ultimately find the right roofing contractor:
- Determine Specialization –– Some roofing companies will advertise that they cover any and all needs. This is a means for them to widen their reach and attract more business. When making your decision, however, try to dig deeper and determine what a given contractor truly specializes in. Do they have experience with homes the size of yours? Are they equipped to handle specific needs (such as a rubber roof at a flat top of your home)? Figure out what they have most experience with, so you can assess accordingly.
- Find Out How Long They’ve Been Working –– As with most any professional you hire, you’ll want to know that your roofing contractor has built up experience. If they haven’t been working long, they may not have that experience. Worse still, they may be a “new” version of an older company that closed due to work issues (as happens with contractors on occasion).
- Observe Past Work –– When you consider a roofing contractor, ask for photos of past work –– or better yet, addresses in the area you can visit. This will allow you to observe the contractor’s handiwork on other homes and determine if you like what you see.
- Get Multiple Quotes –– Because most roofing contractors will give you estimates in advance, be sure to compare quotes as well. Secure estimates from a few of your top options, and see which is most reasonable.
- Check Warranty Specifics –– As alluded to previously, there are different types of warranties offered by roofers. A standard manufacturer’s warranty typically means that shingles are covered as long as you own the home; contractor workmanship warranties vary in length, but cover repairs required due to installation error; and an extended manufacturer’s warranty is essentially a comprehensive hybrid, covering workmanship and materials. You’ll want to check what your prospective contractor is offering and ensure that it aligns with your preference.
Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Roofing Company
In addition to doing your own considerations, you will want to ask numerous questions of the prospective contractor. The following will help you to make your decision:
- How long have you been in business? –– Asking a contractor directly will help you to be confident that a business has sufficient experience.
- Where are you located? –– If a contractor cannot answer this question easily, or provides only a P.O. box, it may be a red flag. Established businesses will be able to provide you with clear location details.
- Are you licensed and authorized? –– The roofing company should be licensed to prove legitimacy, and should be authorized to perform the work (which can help determine things like material coverage in warranties).
- Are you insured? –– As discussed, roofing contractors should have both liability insurance and workers’ compensation insurance before you hire them.
- Do you use subcontractors? –– Some roofing and construction companies do make a habit of using subcontractors. This isn’t necessarily a red flag, but it may mean that you’ll have to look deeper into the work those subcontractors have done on other properties.
- How will you protect my lawn and property? –– Most professional roofers will take steps to protect the lawn and home they’re working on. It is still wise to inquire as to how specifically a contractor plans to do this.
- What will the warranty on my new roof be? –– As noted previously, it is important to determine which type(s) of warranty are available, and how thoroughly you’ll be covered.
- Who is my point of contact? –– When you find the right roofing contractor, you’ll want to know that you can contact them as needed. Ensure at the outset that the owner or site manager will be accessible.
What Happens if You Hire the Wrong Roofing Company?
While it’s not something you want to think about as a homeowner, it is possible that you will hire the wrong roofing company. Unfortunately, this can lead to some fairly serious damages and consequences, such as the following:
- Deteriorating Work –– If your roofing company does a poor job with the physical aspect of the work, you may find that the roof deteriorates in the months or years after it’s installed. This was the case with one Virginia family that posted about the incident online. They actually saw shingles beginning to curl only a few months after installation.
- Unpaid Subcontractors –– The same family that experienced curling shingles also had a lien put on their house by the subcontractors who had done the work. This happened because a dishonest roofing company neglected to pay the subcontractors.
- Unclear or Misleading Warranties –– Some dishonest roofing companies may also mislead homeowners about the terms associated with warranties. Browse through roofing feedback on homeowner platforms such as Houzz, and you’ll find stories of people who saw damage or degradation within warranty periods and contacted roofers only to be told that warranties were no longer in effect. This is why going over the terms of a warranty is a crucial aspect of your journey to find the right roofing contractor.
- Disappearing Contractors –– It can also be the case that contractors simply disappear –– either before a job is done or if a repair is needed.
- Property Damage –– You can also find testimonials from families that experienced property damage during roofing projects. A careless roofer might damage flower beds and landscaping, leave debris (or even sharp nails) behind, and more.
- Extra Charges –– Some dishonest contractors will also attempt to tack on charges beyond an initial agreement. This is why it’s important to go over exact terms before a job begins.
Requesting the Roofing Contractor’s Portfolio
Once you’ve considered the points above, researched your options, and narrowed down your choices, it is a good idea to request prospective roofing contractors’ portfolios. Every roofing contractor’s portfolio is different. Generally, though, they will contain some combination of the following:
- Photos of past work
- Videos of past work
- Detailed specifications (including property size, material, and jobs completed) of past projects
- Customer feedback or testimonials
Gaining access to all this information in one place will help you to find the right roofing contractor among your final options. Specifically, viewing a portfolio will assist you with these considerations:
- Verification –– First and foremost, a sufficient portfolio will prove the experience and legitimacy of the roofing contractor. You’ll be able to see that they have done relevant work, and you may be able to see where that work was done.
- Observation –– You will be able to observe past work and see if it is similar to what you want done on your property. If a portfolio reveals that a roofer has done appealing work on properties similar to yours, you may feel better about hiring them. If on the other hand the portfolio contains largely dissimilar work (say, on smaller or larger homes, commercial properties, or homes with different materials), the roofer may be a poor fit.
- Additional Questions –– Viewing a portfolio may also yield fresh questions or insights. For instance, you might inquire about an appealing shingle design you hadn’t seen, or ask if an attractive roof you see is feasible on your property.
As with any significant work you have done on your home, having your roof repaired or replaced involves a lot of preparation and decision-making. It is usually easy to find local roofing contractors willing to do the job. It is more difficult, however, to sift through options and find the right one for you.
Taking the tips and considerations above into account will help you to find the right roofing contractor. You’ll need to research a roofer’s background and reviews, observe past work, and make inquiries regarding licensing, insurance, cost, and warranties. Provided you are thorough and diligent in this process, however, you can find a local roofing contractor who will do the job fairly and professionally.
Your home will look good as new!