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 or hail, inexperienced roofers often 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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How to Find the Right Roofing Contractor to Replace your Roof

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 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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