1. Buy Local
There are many good reasons why you should only deal with local roofing contractors.
A local contractor has a local reputation to maintain. Not only does a local contractor near you want more business from others in the area, but they also live where they work. You will get a much better outcome if you select a company that not only wants your business and would love a referral or two from you, but word will travel fast if the job is not up to your standards and future jobs will be hard to come by for that contractor.
It is easy for an out-of-area contractor to low ball bid for a roofing job. If something goes wrong with the roof in a month or two, the contractor will be long gone with your money and you will have to pay another contractor to fix what should have been done correctly the first time.
This is especially disheartening when you hear about contractors that take advantage of people after a natural disaster such as a tornado or hurricane. They know that the situation is urgent and they capitalize on that urgency. Several months later when problems arise (due to poor workmanship or substandard materials), they are nowhere to be found.
All companies have either a Yelp, BBB or Google rating nowadays. This is a good way to double check that the contractor you have requested a bid from is as good as they say they are.
2. Does the contractor have a state license? How about insurance?
These might seem like trivial matters, but licenses and insurance do matter.
Legitimate firms are licensed by the state of Texas. In many municipalities, you can't get a building permit without a state license. (For roof replacement, you need a building permit. For small roof repairs, typically you do not.)
Professional roofers also have insurance. The contractor you select should have insurance and not rely on your policy should an accident happen.
Reputable roofers also have certifications from the manufacturers they use. This ensures that they have the most up to date training on the products and installation methods for new products. They are also trained in safety precautions. Some manufacturer's warranties require that the product be installed by a licensed contractor so you will want to be sure you check.
3. Guarantees and Warranties
Check with potential roofers as to what guarantees and warranties they provide. The longer the warranty, the better. Contractors want to make sure that they do the job right so they don't have to come back again and again to make something right on their dime.
Check also with your homeowner or building insurance policy to see if there are any guidelines or restrictions when it comes to who can install a new roof on your home. You want to make sure that your policy will remain in full force should another roof damage incident occur.
The contractor should guarantee their workmanship for at least a year, longer is better. A roof that lasts 25 to 30 years should not become a problem in 15 months if it was installed properly.
4. Insurance Claims
If your roof repair or replacement is covered because of storm damage or other catastrophe, you'll want to make sure you get an insurance adjuster out to verify your claim so that you get the insurance reimbursement you are entitled to. This should be done before you contract with any roofer to do the work. There will be paperwork and you will need to pay your deductible, but you don't want a clerical oversight to invalidate your claim.
5. Your Roofing Work Should Be Detailed in Writing in a Contract
Not that it will, but if anything should go wrong with your roof work, you need to have a written contract in order to file any claims or to take legal action. The old saying that 'a verbal contract is only worth the paper it isn't printed on' is applicable here.
The contract should specify who is going to do the work, what materials will be used, what repairs will be made, what part or parts of the roof will be worked on and the equipment needed to do the work.
One thing you should ask for is a drop dead date. Sometimes contractors book too many jobs and yours gets pushed off to never. You want a reasonable date that includes some leeway for weather problems.
6. On Site Inspection
Make sure the contractor actually comes to your property to inspect the roof before giving a quote. This may seem obvious, but you don't want a price based on square feet. You want a price for your exact roof and the exact product you selected for the roof work.
Frequently, your roof sheathing or flashing needs to be repaired at the same time your work is being done to ensure the roof lasts as long as it can. No contractor can determine this unless he or she has been to your property and thoroughly examined it. You don't want to contract for a roof job, they are expensive as it is, only to find out later that you also need new flashing or your skylight is failing too.
7. Other Considerations
If you have a mobile home, then you should contact a roofing company that specializes in repairing or replacing mobile home roofs. This is a sub-specialty of the roofing trade and not all roofers will work on mobile home roofs. Make sure that you ask upfront about the types of projects a roofer will bid on before dispatching them to give you a quote.
You may have an HVAC contractor that comes to your location twice a year to check on your heat or air conditioning system to make sure it will run when you need it. Roofers are different in that you shouldn’t need a roofer every year, just a few times during the entire time you own the property is the norm.
What if you have an emergency situation? Do you want to be last in line or first in line with the roofing contractor of your choice? We usually tell people that it doesn’t hurt to have a roof inspection every 5 years if the roof is fairly new or every other year for roofs over 15 years old just to make sure you are staying ahead of any problems which may crop up. If you have this relationship with a local roofing company, the next time you need 24/7 emergency roof repair, you will be at the top of the list instead of the bottom.
When disasters happen, and there is a tree coming through the ceiling of a second floor bedroom, you want your emergency roof repair handled before any more damage can occur - no matter what day of the week or hour of the day. The roofer can be there within minutes if they are local and provide a temporary solution that will protect your belongings from additional damage. And, importantly, you will be able to trust their advice and the temporary solution they come up with to keep you safe and secure until you can get with your insurance company and come up with a permanent fix.
Our last tip concerns replacing your roof before selling your home. It is a good idea to have a contractor inspect your roof prior to placing your home on the market. If it needs replacing, you want to do it on your timetable and on your terms. If your roof is in good condition and it should last at least another 5 years, you typically don’t need to worry about it. But if a home inspection finds that your roof is about to fail, it will negatively impact the sales price of your home and you might lose a deal over it.