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7 Questions to Ask When Hiring a Roofing Contractor

Apr 1, 2008
Finding a roofer today whether in Atlanta or elsewhere is like finding kudzu...if you can't find any then you're not looking. Due to the lack of certification in many states, consumers have to be on guard when selecting a quality vendor. We leave it to you to ask the basic questions to make sure that have quality installers. But here are some others questions you need to ask to close the gap on going with someone who, in the long run, could do more damage than good. If the roofing contractor prospect has a problem with answering these, then I advise to continue looking.

1. What is the full name and address of the company?
If they have a problem with giving you this specific information, then that's a red flag. They may be doing work out of their truck or are hiding something. You need to go with an established business that has an office (in addition to any PO Box) because roofing is a long installation and maintenance cycle and you need to know that they'll be around for a while.

2. How long has the company been in business?
As a general rule, the longer a company has been in business, the better. This is particularly true for roofers because you may need their help again in a few years. That being said, if you go with a younger company, then make sure the owner or installers have deep experience. I find that younger companies with experienced staff can be a good bargain as they're typically "hungrier" than the older ones. So they might be a good option.

3. What kind of insurance do they carry and for how much?
The bottom line is that if they don't carry insurance and something happens to one of their workers, then you could be held responsible. You must find out how much coverage they have in the event of an accident. Roofing contractors can easily email or hand you a copy of the certificate.

4. Do they have certification?
Because many states don't have certifications for the roofing industry, any one can essentially become a roofer. This is good for consumers in terms of keeping prices down but at the same time problematic for keeping quality standards high. To get around this, I would ask the company about the relationships they have with their manufacturers. For instance, Owens Corning and GAF Materials are major suppliers of roofing materials. They typically partner only with established roofers who they trust to sell and install their goods. If the roofer has a relationship with a national vendor, then they're probably regarded as stable and reliable. While not true in every case, it's a good rule of thumb.

5. Will the company provide referrals or references from previous jobs?
You should be able to get a list of clients from the prospective contractor. And when called, these clients should have great things to say about the vendor. Ask them probing questions. This might include asking them to take you through the entire experience. I find that by doing this, you may uncover something that wasn't so great that the client had forgotten about. One example might be that the contractor did a good job, but they weren't so great in terms of the cleanup.

6. What is the company's warranty?
A lot of contractors just extend the manufacturer's warranty. But some have warranties of their own. Find out what they offer specifically. The best companies are those who are willing to take more of the risk in the long run and who offer some flexibility with options. Most warranties extend anywhere from 1 to 10 years.

7. How is the company's customer service and track record with handling issues?
Try to find out how your roofing contractor handles problems when they arise. Ask them to tell you about a specific situation where there was a customer service issue. What was it? How did they handle it? Was the customer satisfied and would they recommend the vendor? Of course if you can get the phone number of the customer in question, then call them. Also, ask the
contractor if he has ever lost a job-related court case. And do your homework in determining if the contractor has ever been reported, such as through the Better Business Bureau. You feel much better after you've gone through the steps.
About the Author
Giovanni Rueda owns iRoof, an Atlanta roofing company that helps area homeowners with their roofing, siding and gutter needs. Get more information on taking proper care of your roof at the company's website at http://www.i-roof.com.
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