Choosing the Right Roofer

choosing-the-right-rooferIf you think of your home as your castle – and who doesn’t? – it might help to think in terms of the necessity of constructing a challenging “moat” that a roofing contractor must navigate before he is granted entry to climb aboard your home.

Think about it: Whether your roof needs a repair or a replacement, the investment will probably be significant. And the cost of undoing a shoddy job and starting over again is almost always even more substantial.

Moreover, you depend on the integrity of your roof to keep you and your family safe and dry, so the process by which you choose a roofer should be undertaken with the utmost thoroughness.

Will an unscrupulous roofer balk at your fair and methodical process? More than likely, and that’s a good thing because it means that the field will clear and only the most upstanding, conscientious roofers will be left for you to choose from.

Follow these eight tips and watch them sink or swim through your qualification process – the “moat” that leads to your castle:

  • Seek referrals from people you know and trust – and people who actually have had roofing work done on their home. Your goal here is to accumulate a list, knowing that you will eliminate some roofers as your process continues. So come up with a number that is comfortable for you; a dozen may be too many while three is probably too limiting.
  • Do your due diligence by checking the roofers’ websites (yes, they should have websites) and reading through customer reviews and the roofers’ professional affiliations. Like most contractors, roofers are likely to post reviews that are only positive, but that doesn’t mean these aren’t valid. (And don’t worry: when it comes time to interview roofers, you’ll ask for names of “unhappy or disappointed” past customers so that you can learn how the roofers mitigate problems.) Take note of the roofers’ contractor license numbers. If they don’t appear on the websites, call the companies and request the numbers.
  • Expand your due diligence by checking the roofers’ contractor license numbers with the Contractors State License Board (CSLB) of California, which protects California consumers by licensing and regulating the state’s construction industry.
  • Set up a consultation with the roofers who remain on your list. They should conduct a thorough inspection of your roof – and then be able to explain (in simple English) the scope of the work required. Afterward, ask for the names and phone numbers of satisfied customers, as well as those not-so-satisfied customers who may be able to shed the sharpest light on the roofers’ work ethic.
  • Verify that the roofers carry worker’s compensation and liability coverage. Take the extra step of asking that the insurance providers  write a confirmation letter addressed personally to you.
  • Ask to visit a job site where a project similar to yours is underway – and ideally with the same crew who would be assigned to your “castle.” A roofer who balks at this request probably has something he wishes to hide, so take the cue and eliminate him from contention.
  • Review the contracts with care. A contract should spell out the nature of your roofing project, the materials required, a timetable, cleanup protocols and the payment method. A warranty might be an adjunct to the contract, but it should be part of the package.
  • Re-evaluate your process from start to finish, and plug any “gaps” along the way. Take as long as you need to reach your comfort level, knowing that a reputable roofer will not rush your decision process. After all, your “castle” is worth it.
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