Choosing a professional roofing contractor can be a complex task. This guide simplifies the process by offering five critical tips, ensuring you make an informed, confident decision. From comprehending roofing estimates to navigating subcontracting pitfalls, we ensure you secure top-notch service for your roofing needs.
1. Request a Roofing Estimate.
This is where it all starts. Getting a roofing estimate is free, so make sure to do your due diligence and get at least 3 estimates from reputable roofing companies. Roof costs can vary, so you want to make sure you are comparing “apples to apples” when collecting your roofing quotes.
In addition, be very careful when reading the “small print” in the estimates regarding warranties/guarantees from the potential roofing company quoting the job. Some roofing companies might say they offer a 10yr guarantee on labour; however, it might be a limited warranty. For example, if you want to put a new roof on your house before you sell it (a very common practice), some companies will put the warranty on your name and not the physical address, thus making it void when the new homeowner takes possession.
If these companies are also not certified installers or do not carry the proper ticketed/red seal qualifications, as a homeowner, you may not be eligible for the ironclad or 5-star extended warranties that come from the manufacturer.
Whether the roofing companies are quoting Owens Corning, Certainteed or Malarkey shingles, you should want to have all of the details, in writing, before you make your decision. This will also allow you to ask questions to determine their level of skill, professionalism, and experience.
2. Be Wary of Salesmen (Middlemen).
Many roofing companies use salesmen to estimate and try to land the job. They get a percentage on each job they pick up, so there is a lot of incentive and pressure to land as many jobs as possible. Having a salesman/middleman involved can significantly add to the cost of your new roof. Plus, there is a certain “peace of mind” and/or personal touch when you talk directly to the owner of the roofing company you have asked to estimate your roof.
3. Get a Friend, Neighbour or Colleague Referral
Asking around will give you an idea of a company that may be highly recommended or one that should be avoided. There is no greater indication of a good roofing company than by “word of mouth”. A satisfied customer, especially someone you know, trust or work with, is the NUMBER ONE best way to decide who will and who will not be quoting on your new roof. No matter how much advertising roofing companies do online, nothing compares to what your friend, neighbour or colleague has to say about a good roofing company. The same rings true for bad roofing companies or roofing practices.
4. Check if they Subcontract Out Their Work
Determine if the roofing company you have contacted uses subcontractors to do their work. The two most tell-tale signs that you have a subcontracting crew on a job site is that they:
- Drop a bin in your driveway and
- Show up to do your roof in plain and unmarked vehicles.
The reason for that is that these sub-crews most often work for many different roofing companies and go where they can to get the work. By doing that, they need to keep their trucks clear of any advertising for any one roofing company
Most roofing companies, especially the large roofing companies that I know of, use subcontract roofing crews. They may have some “in-house/hourly” flat roofers that do torch-on roofing, otherwise known as SBS roofing, and subcontract out the shingles or sloped roofing. This can be very worrisome as you aren’t guaranteed what type of crew you are going to get! There are some great sub-crews out there, but there are also some really bad ones. The roofing industry today is rife with bad sub crews that aren’t insured and/or have delinquent WCB accounts.
Believe it or not, MOST sub-crews still do not have any ticketed, journeyman roofers! It is detrimental to you, as the homeowner, that these things are proven and in place before the job is started. If something happens during the process, and the company working on your house isn’t insured or doesn’t have up-to-date WCB coverage, you, as the homeowner, will be liable for anything that goes wrong.
BUT, the biggest problem with using a sub-contract crew is that they are almost all paid by the square foot. For example, if you have a 2500sq ft roof and the sub crew gets paid $1 per sq, that sub crew will be paid $2500 from the roofing company that you have hired. That is if you’ve hired a company that subs out all of their work. Keep in mind that more than half of all roofing companies now do this. Some say the number is at 75%. Now, the faster they do the job, the more money they will make. I’ve seen the havoc this can have on a customer’s roof when it is rushed so that the crew can get home earlier and relax or move on to the next job trying to make more and more money. All the while, the workmanship goes down and down. This is NOT true of all sub-crews. As I said, some are great and take pride in their work. The point here is you just don’t know, and it’s not worth the gamble on your home.
There are some other good roofing companies that do this too. Just try to make sure that the quotes you are getting come from like-minded businesses and business practices.
5. Ask How Long the Roofing Company or Roofing Contractor Has Been in Business.
You wouldn’t take your car to a mechanic who has been on the job for two weeks. And you definitely wouldn’t sign up for heart surgery with a doctor fresh out of school. So why pick a roofing contractor that doesn’t have a long track record of doing high-quality work? In many cases, homeowners allow price to dictate the contractor they choose. As with most things in life, you get what you pay for.
If you go with a roofing company that can give you a bargain price but can’t provide a list of happy customers, you’re probably going to end up with a substandard installation. Also, keep in mind that it’s extremely difficult to collect a judgment against a contractor that simply closes its doors after a lawsuit. Unfortunately, fly-by-night roofing companies are notorious for disappearing to avoid paying damages, only to reopen months later under a new name. You can avoid falling victim to this type of unscrupulous contractor by working with a professional roofing company that has decades in business and a solid reputation.
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