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Which Roofing Contractor Should I Use?

Depending on where you live, you are probably presented with many options for a roofer. How do you know which one to choose?

There are many things to account for: 

  • experience
  • locality
  • reliability
  • reviews
  • pricing
  • insurance
  • warranties
  • and more

     So we will help you out and try to break this down as best we can to help you make the best-informed decision. Here is a list of some things to look for when searching for a roofing contractor. 

Insured

     Most reputable roofing contractors will have their qualifications printed all over their website, including a statement “insured” somewhere among those. While most contractor websites do not go into the details of that insurance, most salespeople will be more than happy to dive into those details a little deeper with you.
 
Why insurance?
 
     Weather often interrupts roof installations, and tarping the project incorrectly, a nasty storm blowing through, carelessness or accidents all could lead to damages on the job site. 
 
An adequately insured company will cover those damages instead of you. Be sure their insurance covers not only property damage but ALSO the roofers doing the installation. If someone, unfortunately, gets hurt on the job, you won’t be left with the medical bill. Their insurance will cover everything.

Local

     Avoid the so-called drive-by roofers or storm chasers. Let’s say a roofing contractor wants to install your roof, but they are from out of town. They are just in your area because a recent storm has blown through. These are the notorious (*low and slow cynical voice*) “Storm Chasers.”
 
So why avoid these guys? Allow me to paint a hypothetical picture for you.
 
     A storm blows through, high winds, hail, downed trees, the WHOLE package! What was once a quaint town full of minivans, compact cars, and Old Man Jenkins on his scooter, is now a bustling gridlock of various roofing trucks. All of which are competing for your business. 
 
One of these companies knocks on your door, presents themselves as a quality roofing contractor, insured, “reputable,” and smooth-talking. You like this guy or gal, and so you move forward with this contractor, and they install your new roof. 
 
Everything was great! Excellent service, great people, respectable. You had ZERO issues. But 18 months go by, and something unforeseen happens to your roof. Hey, mistakes can happen even with the BEST roofing contractors during the install. 
 
Do you think that company from 18 months ago, located 600 miles from you, is going to send a team over to rectify a mistake? Probably not. Hence answering the question, “Why to shop local?”
 
And also, by shopping locally, you are investing in your community! you are putting finances in local wallets to invest BACK into your economy. That’s just good ole American living right there. 

licensed

First of all, it’s the law! 
     Secondly, for a roofer to obtain a license, they need to pass specific qualifications. You don’t want a teenager driving without being tested, and you don’t want a roofer “roofing” without being tested either.
 
But let’s be honest. Just like you encounter that TERRIBLE driver and ask yourself, “How the hell did they EVER pass their driver’s test?” There can be roofers who obtain a “license,” but just aren’t good roofers, which brings us to our next tip to look for while searching for your ideal contractor.
 
Ask if they have a Home Improvement License, a Roofing License, or a Commercial General Contractor’s License.
 
     Let’s start with some facts. A Home Improvement License only requires $75 for application, no testing to prove trade knowledge, and the job can’t exceed $75,000 (at least here in Louisiana).
 
In other words, almost anyone can go out and get a remodeling license to go knock your door, calling themselves a “professional roofer.” It’s sort of like getting married by Elvis in Vegas. Sure it passes the red tape, but will it really last?
 
     But let’s be fair, JUST because a contractor only has a home improvement license doesn’t mean they are a terrible choice. It could be a starter company without a lot of up-front capital to afford the more secure and reputable General Contractor’s license. In other words, they could be a sincere, hard-working, excellent service, up-and-coming contractor building their way to the top… 
 
OR, they could be the aforementioned drive-by roofer in a truck trying to drum up some quick business, put on a crappy roof, and hit the road. We will let you be the judge.
 
     Someone with a Roofing License is a genuine, qualified roofer. They need to have a minimum PERSONAL net worth even to apply, pass testings to show they know their trade, and they have no cap on project costs. The only limitation is they can ONLY do roof work. But that’s why you’re reading this anyway, so that’s perfect.
 
     In contrast, a Commercial General Contractor’s License requires extensive testing, a minimum PERSONAL net worth, has no project spending limit, and allows the contractor to do all construction work except for HVAC, plumbing, and electrical. 
 
If your contractor has this license, they could build a Walmart tomorrow for you… minus the toilets and light switches, of course.
 
     And just because a contractor has the highest credentials doesn’t always mean they are the best fit for you. They could be terrible with customer service, angry individuals, or unsavory characters, which brings us to our next major tip!

Reputation

     Be sure to check the reputation of the company. Check their Google reviews, Facebook reviews, and anywhere else you can find them. 
 
However, Google and Facebook reviews, while the majority are legitimate, can be faked or inflated, so see if the company is on some of the more intentional rating websites like the Better Business Bureau, Angie’s List, Home Advisor, etc.
 
These tend to carry more weight since the reviews are screened more rigorously by the site hosting them. Joe Blow can’t just log on and leave a great or terrible review. They have to have proof of the interaction with the company.
 
     Also, see if the roofing contractor is acknowledged by any of the Manufacturers and other roofing associations. For instance, if the roofing company installs Atlas or GAF products, see if these companies endorse the contractor you are gathering information on. 
 
What this means is the contractor you are choosing has been rigorously tested and verified by the supplier, and this guarantees you professional installation, product performance, and product warranty options.
 
Another big thing to consider is the local referral. Ask around your community. Yes, you have the power of the World Wide Web at your fingertips, but never underestimate the power of your local web.
 
Take your narrowed contractor list and present them to your friends or family and see if any of them have experience with that contractor. 

cost

obviously, if you are filing with insurance, then cost doesn’t apply to you. You will just pay your deductible.
 
But for all you cash payers out there!
     Firstly, we recommend you factor cost last in your decision for a contractor. It’s still a factor! But just let it be last. Hear me out. 
 
Unfortunately, it might be a little more difficult to find pricing on a roof contractor’s website. A lot of them like to play their cards pretty close to their chest, or, are just unable to give a price without first connecting with you and seeing the scope of work for themselves.
 
Some, however, will gladly give you a general ballpark, but you’re not going to know the actual price until you get a roofing specialist out to your home so they can asses the roof, pull measurements, and discuss product selection.
 
But generally, the cost comes down to two things:
 
     quality of the product and the quality of the work
If the contractor boasts of having a quality product, and you do your due diligence to read into that product to confirm its quality, then you will end up paying a premium price for a premium product. 
 
Likewise, if that premium product supplier certifies the contractor, then that contractor is likely to be a premium contractor. So again, that will be a premium cost.
 
If you are just looking for the cheapest “roofing in a truck” company, then you can find them. But it is almost guaranteed that corners will be cut, inexpensive materials will be used, they claim to “waive the deductible” (ILLEGAL!), and you will somehow get screwed in the end.
 
So what is the middle ground to this?
 
     If you are genuinely concerned about keeping your cost down (which is entirely understandable), then talk with your choice roofing contractor about downgrading products. 
 
But we wouldn’t recommend downgrading contractor quality. Because even a lower-tier product installed correctly is a good product. You want that guaranteed excellent service. 
 
But if you can swing it, it’s worth investing in a quality product as well. Top-tier products can last up to 25 years or more, and many times lifetime warranties are transferable to the next homeowner if you sell the property.
 
So this is why we recommend cost as the last comparison. Because firstly, you want to figure out a contractor’s credentials, reputation, and quality, THEN when you narrow down your top 3 contractors you can pick out the best budget-friendly one for you. After that, you can talk with the contractor about product pricing.
 
So there you have it
  • Insured
  • Licensed
  • Local
  • Reputation
  • Cost

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