A few tips on hiring a roofing contractor.
Q. Do I need a new roof or can my existing roof be repaired.
A: That depends on the age and condition of your existing roof. The average life expectancy of a typical residential asphalt shingle roof is 15 to 20 years with newer roofs lasting 25 plus years. If your roof was properly installed and is less than that age, it can often be repaired rather than replaced.
Hiring a Roofing Contractor
Q: How can I find a qualified, reliable, licensed contractor?
A: One of the best ways to find a roofing contractor is to ask friends or relatives for recommendations.
Especially if your friends or relatives happen to be professional roofers
You can also contact a professional roofers association for referrals. You should verify that the contractor is licensed and check the status of the license.
You can also verify the contractor's bond information, list of key personnel, workers compensation policy information and if there have been any legal actions filed.
- Get three references and review past work;
- Get at least three bids;
- Get a written contract and don't sign anything until you completely understand the terms;
- Never pay more than 10 % or $1,000 down, whichever is less; although there are circumstances, such as special order items, that may need to be paid in advance
- Don't let your payments get ahead of their work and keep records of payments and all papers in a job file;
- Don't make final payment until you're satisfied with the job;
- Don't pay cash;
- Don't rush into repairs or be pressured into making an immediate decision to choose a roofer
What About the Contract?
It's important that you get everything in writing. A well-written contract is one of the best ways to prevent problems. The contract protects you and the contractor by including everything you have both agreed upon. Get all promises in writing and spell out exactly what the contractor will and will not do. Make sure any changes to the contract, called change orders or addendums, are also done in writing.It’s also important to note that many roofing projects are completed on a handshake or verbal agreement alone. Without any problems.
Your contract should call for all work to be performed in accordance with all applicable building codes. Building codes set minimum safety standards for construction. Generally, a building permit is required whenever structural work, like a roof is involved. The contractor should get all necessary building permits. If this is not specified in the contract, you may be held legally responsible if the contractor fails to get the required permits. Your local building department will inspect your roof when the project has reached a certain stage and again when the roof is completed.
Make sure the licensed contractor carries worker's compensation insurance for his or her employees. They must also tell you if they carry general liability insurance in case of accidents on the job. Ask for copies of these policies to keep in your job file.
This is very important. Both for the welfare of the workers and for the homeowner.
A Warning about being your own Contractor (Owner/Builder)
Homeowners can face very serious legal and financial problems if they choose to try to save money by acting as their own contractor. The term for this is owner/builder. If the homeowner chooses to be an owner/builder, they become an employer and must:
- Provide workers compensation insurance and withhold payroll taxes if they hire any unlicensed contractors
- Be responsible for making sure the job is done properly.
- If any of the construction doesn't pass building inspections, the homeowner is responsible for correcting the work
- Make sure all contractors and material suppliers are paid, or mechanic's liens may be filed against your property.
- Even though you may have paid your roofing contractor in full, a mechanic's lien could lead to the sale of your property in order to pay a bill for services on your property that was not paid by your contractor.
- It is not illegal for a homeowner to act as an owner/builder.
- But, unless you have a lot of experience in construction, the we recommend that it's best to hire a legitimate, licensed expert.
Typical Roofing Scams
While most roofing projects go as planned, it's important that you're aware of some typical roofing scams. The most common is someone who knocks on your door, offering to replace damaged shingles and spray your roof with oil, sealers or preservatives. Typically, they will say they noticed the homeowner's roof is in need of repair and they have leftover materials from a nearby job and can complete the repair for a reasonable price.The bogus coating is often a diluted mixture of diesel or gasoline and paint and washes off with the first rain. Later, some roofers say they made other needed repairs or come out of your attic with wet clothes and saying they’ve detected water damage. These unscrupulous roofers can use pressure and intimidation to extort more money from the homeowner.Homeowners should not rush into any construction job just because they're told they're getting a great deal.
If problems arise during or after construction, talk to your contractor. Usually he or she will make corrections willingly.