Find Reliable Roofing Restoration: BBB Tips for Hiring a Roofing Contractor
August 26, 2014

Homeowners tend to utilize the summer months to repair and restore any areas of the home which may have been damaged by harsh seasonal weather conditions. These refurbishments often include a home’s foundational structure, roof, windows, doors, and surrounding foliage, driveways, or walkways.

Roofing repairs, specifically, can be tricky for homeowners to address. Whether your roof was hit hard by a natural disaster or simply needs to be replaced due to time, it is important to take certain precautions when hiring a roofing contractor. Unethical roofers may view the calamity of a deteriorating roof as an opportunity to take advantage of homeowners.

BBB offers the following tips to homeowners looking to hire a roofing contractor:

Do your research. Check with your insurance company about policy coverage and specific filing requirements. Save all receipts if temporary roofing repairs are necessary.

Shop around. For major repairs, take time to shop around and get three or four estimates. These estimates should be based on the same specifications and materials. Check out references which are at least one year-old, and verify if the contractor is required to be licensed and/or registered to do work in your area. In addition, check with your local building inspector to see if a building permit is necessary.

Avoid high-pressure sales tactics. Be wary of door-to-door workers who claim to have spare materials from another job nearby. You should also be concerned if they do not have a permanent place of business. Further, check to see if your community requires door-to-door sales personnel to have solicitation permits.

Trust your gut. Be suspicious if a worker arrives on your doorstep to announce that your home is unsafe. If you are concerned about possible structural damage in your home, hire an engineer, architect, or building official to provide an inspection. Although most roofing contractors abide by the law, it is important to take caution when allowing a stranger to inspect your roof. An unethical contractor may actually create damage in order to be hired for work.

Get everything in writing. Require a written contract agreement with anyone you hire. Be sure their name, address, license number, and phone number are included in the contract. Read and understand the contract in its entirety. Do not sign a blank contract, and make sure you get a copy of the signed contract at the time of signature.

Clearly written proposals that are detailed and broken down into separate line items signify that the contractor is being thorough and has prepared an accurate estimate.

The following is a partial list of items your estimate or proposal should include:

  • The type of roof covering, manufacturer, and colour.
  • Materials to be included in the work (such as underlayment and ice dam protection membrane).
  • Scope of work to be done.
  • Removal or replacement of existing roof.
  • Flashing work (such as existing flashings to be replaced or re-used, adding new flashing, and flashing metal type).
  • Ventilation work (such as adding new vents).
  • Ensure it contains language addressing who is responsible for any damage that occurs as a result of the work. All items of concern and work to be done should be included in the contract.
  • Installation method.
  • Approximate starting and completion dates.
  • Payment procedures.
  • Length of warranty and what is covered (such as workmanship and water leakage).
  • Ensure old roofing materials and project waste is properly removed from your property. If there is an extra charge for this service, it should be outlined in the contract.

If one estimate seems much lower than the others, it may be too good to be true. Many unethical contractors have below-cost bids which seem attractive; however, these contractors often are uninsured and perform substandard work using substandard materials. Read the fine print as well. Some contracts use a clause where substantial cancellation fees or liquidation damages are required if the homeowner decides not to use the contractor after insurance approval of the claim. In some instances, a consumer may be obligated to pay the full agreed price if they cancel the hired services after the 10 day cancellation period. If an estimate or contract seems confusing, ask the contractor to break it down into items/terms you can understand.

Home owners should never feel forced to make a hasty decision or to choose an unknown contractor. BBB has Business Reviews on more than 67,000 roofing contractors. These reviews are available for free at bbb.org.