Category Archives: Hiring a Roofer

How to Find the Right Roofing Contractor to Replace your Roof in 2017

A little over 10 years ago, if you needed to hire a roofing contractor, you would open Yellow Pages, and there, in plain view, you would see plenty of quality contractors servicing your area.

Today the Yellow Pages print edition is almost obsolete. Over the past decade it has lost almost 90% of its print advertisers. Other forms of printed advertising, such as local newspapers became the dinosaurs of today’s market place, and are becoming extinct. Today most homeowners looking for a roofing contractor turn to the Internet.

Does the ongoing shift from Print to Digital make it easier to find a quality roofing pro?

It may seem at first that the Internet has made it much easier and faster for homeowners to find a far greater number of roofing contractors.

However, as noted by the makers of the remodeling decision engine at 150points, conventional online search engines such as Google and Bing haven’t delivered on the promise to help a homeowner find and distinguish trusted and reliable roofing pros from fly-by-night scammers. The same is true for online review sites like Angie’s List and Yelp.

Potential pitfalls of searching for a roofing contractor on the Internet

Home service companies that come up at the top of search results, often pay for their placement. This means that top rankings in Google are not necessarily a reflection of their quality as roofing contractors. Companies that show up at the top of the page in a colored box marked as “ads”, are the ones that paid for their placement in the search.

It is certainly easy for the new and unproven roofing contractors to write fake customer reviews for themselves on their websites, as well as on Google, Yelp, and other online destinations. This means you should take all the reviews with a grain of salt and investigate further.

Did you know? Many online scammers, after their scams have been discovered, can simply close down the shop, and open up a new business under a different name in the same town, and buy their way back to the top of the internet rankings. Changing a website URL for advertising campaign on Google is certainly not difficult. — Compare that to Yellow Pages print edition, where advertising costs upwards of $5,000 for a full page ad, with new Yellow Pages edition coming out only once a year. It’s easy to see that pulling off company reputation scams used to be a lot more difficult.

With the advent of online search, many reputable roofing contractors were slow to establish their own websites and many scammers bought up similar sounding domain names (website names) and used similar looking logos to pretend to be a competing well – established company. This practice is still well-alive today.

What about Angie’s List, Home Advisor, and Yelp?

Angie’s List, which is now free to homeowners, prioritizes contractors who are willing to pay for their ads, so homeowners often end up choosing a better advertiser, not necessarily the best contractor for the job. Now, Angie’s List has, recently been acquired by HomeAdvisor.

Home Advisor (HA) is a pay to play marketplace for contractors. It’s free for homeowners, however, HA pay to play model greatly reduces the pool of quality roofers you can find on their system limited; only contractors who are willing to pay for HA membership and homeowner leads can be found and hired. — This means that many reasonably-priced quality contractors are neither discoverable nor visible to most homeowners trying to find a pro on HomeAdvisor.

They all look the same!

Furthermore, as if finding, vetting and hiring a quality company was not difficult enough already, the amount of 5 star reviews on Angie’s List and Home Advisor is quite overwhelming, with every company looking almost exactly the same! In other words, these platforms make it nearly impossible to tell which company would be the best fit for you the homeowner.

Furthermore, many contractors paying for leads from HomeAdvisor often complain because they’re are frequently categorized for services they don’t even offer. This creates bad experience for both homeowners and contractors.

Now, Yelp, which is a great review site for restaurants, has a very limited number of roofers on their platform at present. Oftentimes the reviews for listed roofers on their platform are fake or written/manipulated by the contractor’s friends.

So, even in the digital age, finding and hiring the best and most reasonably-priced contractor for the job is still a major pain for many homeowners

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Most Important Questions to Ask a Roofing Contractor Before Signing a Contract

Choosing a roofing contractor that will install your roofing properly is easily as important as using quality material. Most roofing contractors are reliable craftsmen, but when the economy is growing and/or there is a lot of work to be done, as in areas hit by recent hurricanes, inexperienced roofers look for a piece of the pie.

This guide will arm you with the most important questions to ask a roofing contractor before hiring them. Quite a few sites list questions to ask contractors. We’re different because we also give details about what you should expect to hear from a legitimate roofing contractor that is worth considering for the critical work of roofing your home or business.

Note to hurricane victims: We recommend that you never hire a contractor that comes to you looking for work. Every established roofing contractor in your area has more work than it can handle. Roofing crews are flooding your area from across the country. Many inexperienced roofers and con artists are going door-to-door looking for work or an easy dollar. Your first call should be to FEMA at (800) 621-3362. FEMA can supply you with a list of legitimate roofing contractors that have been screened to ensure they are experienced, licensed and insured. In some areas, FEMA is handling the arrangements for homeowners to have their homes repaired.

Questions to Ask a Roofing Contractor Before Signing a Contract

Your questions should start with general issues about the business and the roofing crew. If the contractor gives satisfactory answers to them, then asking specific questions about the materials, processes and schedule will help you narrow your search for a trustworthy roofing contractor.

General roofing contractor questions and appropriate answers:

Q: How long has the company been in business?

You want a roofer that has “seen it all,” i.e., repaired and installed hundreds of roofs like yours. The owner of the company should have at least 10 years in the roofing business as an owner, preferably, or at minimum working as a crew leader for someone else.

Q: Are you licensed, and can I have a copy of your license?

Most states require contractors to have a license issued by a state agency. In Michigan, for example, it is called the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA). In California, it is the California State Licensing Board. When applying for the license, the roofer must demonstrate knowledge and adherence to building codes and proof of insurance. Some states require that the contractor be bonded (see below). Most state licensing agencies allow homeowners to quickly verify online or by phone that the contractor’s license is current.

Q: What happens if a worker falls off my roof, or you damage my home? In other words, does the company have worker’s compensation insurance and liability insurance?

Worker’s compensation insurance covers the employees in case they are injured on the job. Without it, an injured worker is more likely to sue the homeowner to cover medical bills, lost wages and other damages.

Liability insurance covers you if the roofing company damages your home or your property. Some homeowner’s insurance policies won’t pay in such cases.

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Top 10 Ways Not to Hire a Roofer! What to Look for in a Roofing Contractor

Every day I hear of yet another roofing nightmare taking place as a result of hiring the wrong roofer for the job!

out-of-state-storm-chasers

Let me share a few bits of wisdom to help all the naive homeowners navigate these muddy waters and avoid hiring the wrong roofer for the job.

1. Storm Chasers are often a group of shady roofers who are literally chasing the storms to find work resulting from a recent storm, wind, and/or hail damage affecting a particular geographic area. More often than not, these guys go from state to state or town to town, working without any liability insurance or worker’s comp, without much care for the quality of their work since they never have to see you again after taking your hard-earned money! Not only that, the shadiest of them will take your money and never do any work at all. That’s right there is a high chance a storm chaser will disappear with your money leaving you in the dust. The bottom line is that if you do not want to throw away your money and get your hopes in humanity shattered, then don’t hire a storm chaser, especially an out of state one! 😉

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Did you know? You should beware of any person or company that puts a heavy emphasis on how you can get a new roof paid for by the insurance company!


2. Hiring a handyman “doing another roofing job” in your neighborhood. This is another popular scam somewhat similar and often intertwined with the storm-chasing scam, where a so-called “roofer doing another job in the neighborhood” knocks on your door offering to repair or replace your roof “dirt-cheap”, as they are doing another job in the neighborhood and have a a few extra guys and materials to do your roof, since they are in the area anyways. Don’t fall for this scam, your money will disappear faster than a speeding bullet, while your roof will keep reminding you of the scam you so easily and naively fell for! 😉

3. The weekend warrior or a friend who can do your roof for “half the price” the regular guys will charge you. This one is not so much a scam, but rather a risky proposition for you, given the fact that weekend warriors will typically work without any liability insurance or worker’s comp, which could expose you to all sorts of potential legal issues, as you would be held liable for any work hazards or emergencies happening at the work site as a de-facto employer. There is no guarantee that a weekend warrior will finish your roof in a timely fashion since he will still be obligated to his day job. Further, in a very plausible case of damage from a storm or heavy rain taking place during or after the installation, when your roof is exposed to the elements (such as after the tear off of the old roof), you will not be covered by any sort of liability insurance, which could cost you dearly should your house get flooded as a result of a careless or faulty installation. — Keep in mind that it’s not at all a given that your home insurance will cover any damages that may occur as a result of an improper installation by an unlicensed weekend warrior who does not draw a permit for the job.

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4. Hiring a “regular roofer” to install a specialty system such as PVC, TPO or a metal roof. Consider a standing seam metal roof for a moment, chances are that your regular “shingles only” roofer is not properly equipped nor trained to do a specialized job, whether it be slate, tiles, cedar shakes, metal, PVC, TPO, or EPDM rubber. There are many asphalt shingle roofers, but there are only so many properly trained and qualified installers specializing in other systems. Only hire a specialist if you want to avoid a disaster taking place on your roof!

5. Not doing your homework in terms of properly researching and vetting the company you hire. Have you checked their track record and how long have they been in business? Anything less than five years in the roofing business is incredibly risky, since the roofer may not be around to honor your warranty in a few years! It’s best to hire a small local company with great track record, rather than a large company with numerous complaints.


6. Do not hire a large company that primarily uses sub-contractors, as this is a surefire way to get sub-standard work, unless of course, you have personally vetted the actual sub-contractor who will be working on your roof. — This does require asking a lot of questions on your part beforehand, and carefully researching/vetting both contractors for any type of serious consumer complaints that may be floating on various review sites.

7. Not meeting your foreman or project manager in person before agreeing to any work or signing a contract — you may want to meet the person who will be responsible for day to day work on your roof. When you do, try to get a good sense for how comfortable you are having this person handle your project. Do you have sufficient confidence in this person and their crew doing the right thing on your roof?

8. Not discussing the clean-up and landscaping protection requirements before the contract is signed — If you care about the cleanliness of your home, yard, and garden, then make sure the contractor understands fully that you have high expectations in terms of daily clean-up and removal of debris from your property, unless of course you don’t mind damaged plants/landscaping and a few nails in your tires. 😉

9. Not reading the contract before signing it — Make sure you understand the contract and warranty details — ask questions before you sign any document! You do not want to end up with a lien against your house, sub-standard warranty not worth the paper it’s written on, or any hidden/unforeseen charges during the job.

10. Not verifying the contractor’s liability and worker’s comp coverage. While most companies want to do a good job, things inevitably happen on the job meaning that there may be some damage caused to your property during the installation. For instance, your home may get flooded during the installation. If your roofer does not have a valid liability insurance, you may find yourself in some rough waters should a serious damage to your property occur. — Aside from general liability insurance, you should also verify contractor’s worker’s compensation, if your state requires it. If they do not have it, you may be held liable for any personal injury occurring as a result of work on your property!

Closing Remarks:

With all the great abundance of numerous contractor review sites such as Angie’s List and Yelp, it’s amazingly surprising to see there is no shortage of people who still end up hiring the wrong roofers, in-spite of all the reviews and publicly available information/data floating in the cyberspace! 😉

The bottom line is that if you want to have a pleasant experience as opposed to getting burned, then be a smart homeowner and do your homework! Only hire local contractors who objectively care more about their reputation and your satisfaction than anything else. You may also want to check out your “contractor’s credit score” on 150 Points.


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