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Educational Consumer Tips

Home Improvements - Roofing

Author: Better Business Bureau

This report is general in nature and is not intended as a reliability report on any company, service or product.

When considering a contractor, check to see if they are licensed with the state of PA at or 1-888-520-6680. You may also ask whether they belong to a professional association with standards for membership and ask that they will obtain any necessary building permits. National Roofing Contractors Association is a professional trade association serving the public and roofing installation and repair industries.

·          Check with your local building inspector or town clerk to see if a building permit is required

·          Check with your local municipality to see what licensing requirements the contractor must have

·          Solicit two or three bids for the work you are planning, make sure all bids are based on the same specifications and materials and length of time. Do not automatically accept the lowest bid, sometimes this can be due to inferior product quality or workmanship

·          Once you have found a contractor, request proof of a current insurance certificate covering workman’s compensation, property damage and personal liability

·          Read and understand any contract in it’s entirety, don’t sign a blank contract or any with blank lines, a copy of the signed contract is to be given to you at time of signature

·          Do not pay for a job in its entirety or in cash. The PA Home Improvement Consumer Protection Act (517.9. Prohibited acts) states for any sale of over $5000, the contractor cannot accept a deposit of more than 1/3 of the price, or 1/3 of the price plus the cost of special order materials. Never make a final payment or sign an affidavit of release until the job has completed any inspections and any subcontractors have been paid and you are satisfied that the work has been done to your specifications

·          Effective April 22, 2010, all work in homes that pre-date 1978 must be done by contractors that have completed the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) course entitled: Certification to Conduct Lead-Based Paint Activities and Renovations. Contractors must provide the consumer with proof of course completion with a certificate. Certification may be verified by visiting the EPA website and using the search feature.

***EPA provides extensionHome improvement contractors will have more time to meet new federal requirements for dealing with lead paint. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) said it will delay the April 22 deadline until Oct. 1, 2010 to register for training. This delay allows contractors to sign up for training by Sept. 30. All training must be completed by Dec. 31.

ENERGY STAR is a joint program of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Department of Energy helping consumers save money and protect the environment through energy efficient products and practices. Energy Star qualified products meet strict energy efficiency guidelines set by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and offer long-term energy savings. To locate roofing materials that are Energy Star qualified, click here.Clearly written proposals that are detailed and broken down into separate line items are a good sign 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 color
  • Materials to be included in the work, e.g., underlayment, ice dam protection membrane
  • Scope of work to be done
    • Removal or replacement of existing roof
    • Flashing work, e.g., existing flashings to be replaced or re-used, adding new flashing, flashing metal type
    • Ventilation work, e.g., adding new vents
  • Who is responsible for repairing/replacing exterior landscape or interior finishes that are damaged during the course of the work? Make sure that 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, e.g., workmanship, water leakage
  • Who will haul away the old roofing materials and/or project waste (e.g. extra materials, packaging, etc.)? Is there extra charge for this service?
If one estimate seems much lower than the others and it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Many fly-by-night contractors' below-cost bids seem attractive, but these contractors often are uninsured and perform substandard work or use substandard materials. If an estimate is confusing, ask the contractor to break down the estimate into items/terms you can understand.For more advice you can trust from your local BBB on avoiding scams and fraud, go to