Roofing experts recommend that roofs be inspected at least once a year for damage and wear. Early identification of a roofing problem may head off more costly repairs at a later date. Since most of us are not likely to make a regular habit of climbing up and inspecting our roofs, we typically call on professionals to handle this task. Whether you need a patch job or you need an entire roof, you should use the same caution as hiring any other building professional. Ask friends and neighbors for recommendations. Get the names of several contractors and check them out with the BBB. Obtain local references and examine the finished work, if possible. Get a detailed written estimate of the work, including the labor and materials. When comparing cost estimates, make sure that the bids are based on the same set of specifications and materials. Get a written commitment as to how long the work will take. Be sure that all aspects of the roofing job are detailed in writing before signing any contract; never sign a contract with sections left blank. Finally, determine what sort of guarantees apply to materials and labor and get the guarantees in writing. Make sure the company is properly licensed and that its workers are covered by company insurance. In Lubbock and in most communities, contractors must secure a permit from the building inspection department to replace a roof. Make sure the contractor you choose gets that permit and that the permit has been issued in the company name. If you are repairing or replacing your roof due to storm damage, check your homeowner's indurance policy to determine coverage for roof repair or replacement. The type of roofing you install may also affect your insurance rates, so check with your insurer first.