Contractor Hiring Tips
Hiring a contractor is risky business! No matter which contractor you hire, the project is usually a large investment. If you make the wrong choice, it could cost you a lot of money and headaches.
We put together this information to help educate you on the things that you need to consider when making this important decision.
When you hire a roofing contractor you are buying both, a product (shingles, metal panels, etc.) and a service (the installation, clean up, follow up). It’s important to carefully evaluate both while making your buying decision.
There is a wide range of roofing materials that are available today. These products differ distinctly in price and quality:
Quality- Shingle quality depends on the size (weight), tear resistance, seal ability, and the amount of granules protecting the shingle from the sun. There can be a significant difference between brands in the quality of shingles that they offer. Also, each manufacturer makes different levels of quality within their brand to offer different price points.
Warranties- Shingle warranties aren’t a prediction of how long a shingle is going to last, they are a statement of how long the manufacturer is willing to stand behind them. Most shingle warranties only provide full coverage (100% material & labor) for a short period of time. After that, the warranties are prorated and for materials only. Some manufacturers only pay warranty claims if the roof leaks. Others will pay for aesthetic problems. Understand the warranty that accompanies your shingles. Ask your contractor if an extended warranty is an option. It could save you money down the road if something goes wrong. Buying cheap shingles now probably means you will be buying them again, sooner rather than later.
Quality- Consider the thickness (gauge) of the panel. The smaller gauge, the thicker the panel. For example, 24 gauge metal is thicker than 29 gauge metal. There are also different metal panel configurations designed for different applications. When roofing your house, its best to use a panel designed for a residential building. These panels are installed using hidden fasteners that allow the panel to expand and contract during temperature changes. Putting the wrong kind of panel on can increase your chance of having a leak and decrease the value of your home.
Warranties- Different manufacturers use varying paint finishes on their metal. These finishes have a limited warranty period. This is important because without the finish, the metal will rust and eventually leak.
This is the part of the buying decision that is the easiest to get wrong and can result in the most expensive problems.
Improper Installation- There is a lot more to installing a roof system than just showing up and nailing on shingles. Following are some areas of expertise your roofing professionals should have:
Fasteners- They need to know how many fasteners to use and where to use them. With shingled roofs, too few or misplaced nails can greatly increase the likely hood of blow offs.
Ventilation- They need to not only know how to install vents but also understand how the entire ventilation system works. Improper ventilation can cause your roof to wear out more quickly and negatively impact the heating/cooling efficiency of your home.
Flashings- Flashings are necessary to roof around any protrusion such as chimneys, sewer pipes, dormers or walls. They need to have the knowledge of how and when to use the various different types of flashings.
Valleys- Valleys are one of the most common places that unskilled and inexperienced roofers make mistakes. There are different techniques needed to ensure that your valleys will be water tight.
Improper installation can result in rotten sheathing, ruined drywall, and other interior water damage. Under the right circumstances, undetected water damage can allow mold to form. Most people don’t know these problems exist until extensive damage has been done.
Damaged property- Roofing is a very difficult and dirty job. A good contractor will do their best to protect your property (landscaping, lawn furniture, decks, siding, etc.) from being damaged during the roofing process. They should take the time to move things that can be moved and cover things that can’t. No matter how careful your contractor may be, sometimes the unforeseen happens. If something does get broken or damaged, you want a contractor that has the proper insurance to cover repairs or replacements.
Lack of insurance- Not only does your contractor need liability insurance, they also need to have workers compensation insurance for their employees. Many contractors do not carry this insurance because it is very expensive. Unfortunately, if one of their employees gets hurt while working on your roof, you could be found liable. Don’t take a chance. Ask to see a current copy of the contractor’s worker’s compensation and liability insurance policy.
Inadequate clean up- Roof tear-offs are very dirty and usually nails and other roofing materials end up in your yard. Some contractors don’t take the time to thoroughly clean up your yard and gutters. Ask some of your contractors past customers if they did a thorough job cleaning up the mess.
Time management – Roofing is a loud and dirty process. It can disrupt you and your neighbors’ daily routine. You want to hire a contractor with the skills and manpower necessary to complete the job efficiently. Most residential roofing projects should take between 2 to 4 days to complete.
Follow-up service- Paying your bill shouldn’t be the end of your relationship with your contractor. Good contractors are available to answer questions and respond to concerns throughout the entire life of your roof. Make sure your contractor has a physical address and only hire if you are confident that they will be available well into the future.