Every trade, every occupation, has its own lingo, its own way of expressing details which is designed to make the occupation seem at least somewhat mysterious and formidable to outsiders. This is certainly true of the roofing industry. Homeowners contemplating calling a roofing contractor may be slightly intimidated by not knowing the proper questions to ask or the right way to phrase some questions. Fear not. This article will lay out the very simple questions for roofing contractor that every homeowner needs to ask before signing a roofing contract.
1.) Make sure the company has a permanent address. That means more than a P.O. box or an email address. Look them up on line or in a phone directory. Make certain the address is not simply a mail drop, but an actual company address. Do not hesitate to drive by the location, or even to drop in for a chat. Find out how long they have been at the same address. If they have just moved into the location and have only been in business for a couple months or a year, red flags should go up. Here at United Home Experts, you can drive by our office and as you come, you will see our fleet of trucks and vans we use for our projects and as well see our main headquarters. With United, you never have to worry about promises that go unfulfilled.
2.) Ask to see copies of their workers’ compensation and liability insurance. If anything appears out of the ordinary, such as different names on the documents or a different address, raise those red flags because if your gut tells you something is fishy, then something probably is. Check out their insurance. Call their insurance broker. If the contractor is legitimate, they will not mind being checked at all. Only someone who is not legitimate is afraid of an investigation. The homeowner should go with his or her instincts.
3.) Ask if the contractor will be using any subcontractors and ask to see the liability and workers compensation insurance from the subcontractor.
4.) The homeowner needs the name of the person who will be overseeing the job on a regular basis. The homeowner should be able to call and talk to a specific individual who will be responsible for addressing any issues the homeowner has once the job begins.
5.) Ask when the job will begin and how long it will take. It is acceptable for the contractor to have a clause in a contract that says something to the effect of “weather-permitting”. A contractor cannot be held responsible for rain or other weather conditions that make roofing impossible. However, there should be an absolute end-date for the project and there should be penalties if the contractor cannot meet the deadline.
6.) Ask if the contractor is licensed as a roofer. Most states and even some cities require a roofing contractor to be licensed in order to perform work over a certain dollar figure. If your contractor fails to provide a license, check with local authorities to see if a license is required. Remember, a business license is not the same thing as a contractor’s license; a business license is for tax purposes and does not indicate that the contractor is qualified to roof a home. If a homeowner uses an unlicensed contractor and the job is less than satisfactory, the homeowner may have a hard time collecting any damages especially if the homeowner was aware of that fact ahead of time.
7.) References are essential. Hiring a roofing contractor who cannot provide several local references is an extremely unprofessional way to do business. Not only should the contractor have roofs in the area where they are operating, but finding people who have had a good experience with the contractor says a great deal. Keep in mind, however, that the contractor may be supplying the homeowner with a bogus list of happy customers the “customers” could be the contractor’s relatives or friends. Check with the BBB to see if there are any complaints against the contractor. Keep in mind that one or two negatives on an otherwise positive record may not be entirely the contractor’s fault. References need to be checked carefully.
8.) Along the same lines as references, ask if any of the contractor’s employees are certified. Employees who are certified in flat roofs or rubber roofs or other specialty jobs indicates a certain level of professionalism on the part of the contractor, but it can also be a requirement for certain types of roofs. Employee certification may be required for certain roofing warranties. If the homeowner is having any kind of specialty roof installed that requires professional installation, the homeowner should make certain that the contractor meets the requirements of the company supplying the roofing materials or the roofing materials may not be warranted. If you’re an Angie’s List member, see our reviews and you’ll find all “A” grades. If you don’t feel like going off the site, see all of our testimonials and reviews from our customers and how happy they are from hiring us.
9.) It is also important that a contractor warrant the work being performed. Naturally a warranty is only as good as the company backing it, but if the homeowner is dealing with a company that has been invested in a community for some time, then bad word of mouth can destroy the business, so under those conditions a warranty can be of immense value. United backs all of our work including labor, so if anything isn’t up to par years later, you can be rest assured we’ll take care of you and back our work.
10.) Ask about permits required. Different communities have different permits required for a wide variety of construction jobs. Failing to get a required permit before beginning a roofing job can result in a tangle of red tape as well as fines. Make certain the contractor checks for needed permits and obtains them before beginning the job. United services all of the Central and Eastern Massachusetts area so we know exactly what permits, licenses are needed to complete a job, whether it be residential, in the city or a historical property.
There are a lot of questions that a contractor needs to be asked, but keep in mind that a roofing job represents a great deal of money and the homeowner has every right to proceed with caution. Legitimate contractors never object to any digging the homeowner does. Before beginning any job of this nature it is also an excellent idea to talk with the people at United Home Experts. The roofing professionals at UHE are happy to answer any questions a homeowner has about roofing. Keep in mind that because United Home Experts is one of the largest roofing companies in the Northeast, their recommendations are never based on the fact that they must “push” any one manufacturer’s products; their recommendations are completely unbiased. For more information on our roofing services, visit our main roofing page!