10 Tips to Help Homeowners Choose the Right Roofing Contractor
(context sited from the GAF ProBlog)
The biggest obstacle homeowners face when looking to fix or replace their roof is choosing the right person to do the job. After a damaging storm, they need to quickly get back to normal and get the necessary roofing repairs completed. But that doesn’t mean they should just choose the first contractor who knocks on their door. Finding a contractor who is trustworthy, honest, and professional may sound difficult – but that’s where you come in. Contractors should share these 10 important tips with homeowners to show them that your company is reputable and can be trusted to protect their home and their wallet.
- Get local referrals. There is less chance of potential issues or scams when you choose a contractor from your community. They are more familiar with local rules and code regulations and have a relationship with area crews and suppliers.
- Look for manufacturer designations. Manufacturer designations are considered a badge of honor because the contractor must pass certain minimum requirements to be factory-certified (although, some manufacturers have more stringent requirements than others). GAF strictly enforces their top designation; less than 2% of roofing contractors have qualified as Master Elite® Unlike other manufacturer designations, Master Elite® Contractors cannot use this top designation in another territory, only in a specific territory. Find a Master Elite® Contractornear you.
- Research Better Business Bureau (BBB) ratings. Some contractors blow in (no pun intended) right after a storm looking for work, so it’s important to look them up on the BBB website and make sure they have a good score. Stay away from contractors who do not exist on BBB.org. GAF Master Elite® Contractors are required to maintain satisfactory ratings with the BBB in order to retain their certification.
- Get an extensive warranty. Not all contractors can offer manufacturer warranties that include coverage of the contractor’s workmanship. If a contractor installs the roof incorrectly, it may take months or years for the damage to show up and insurance won’t pay for it. If the contractor won’t fix it (or worse, has gone out of business), your only recourse is to pay for their mistake yourself. A Master Elite® Contractor can offer one of the longest workmanship warranties on the market: the Golden Pledge® Warranty. The Golden Pledge® Ltd. Warranty also includes an inspection by a GAF factory-trained inspector who will check the contractor’s work after the roof has been completed.
- Be concerned about safety. A contractor without a training or safety program may not be the best person for your job. GAF sponsors a unique national training organization called the Center for the Advancement of Roofing Excellence (CARE), which has trained 125,000 professionals. GAF is the only roofing manufacturer with a dedicated team of trainers in the industry.
- Check for proper licensing and insurance. The contractor should have insurance for all employees and subcontractors and be able to provide a copy of their insurance certificate for validation. Not having adequate insurance could potentially lead to litigation between a contractor and homeowner if a roofing employee sustains an injury at the home. Most states require licensing for contractors, but that does not stop unlicensed contractors from attempting to do the roofing work. In states where licenses are required, make sure your contractor provides you with a copy of their license and confirm their status online. GAF Master Elite® Contractors must hold appropriate levels of Workers Compensation (where required by law) and General Liability coverage, and have proper state licensing where they are performing the work.
- Pay your deductible. Any contractor who claims that they can handle the repair without having the homeowner pay their insurance deductible is committing insurance fraud and endangering the homeowner. The insurance deductible is the responsibility of the insured, and the contractor should reflect that in the quote without inflating the estimate to cover all or part of the deductible.
- Handle your own claim. A contractor who says they are “a claim specialist” or can “handle your insurance claim” may be breaking the law. In most states, it is illegal for contractors to act on behalf of the homeowner when negotiating an insurance claim. Any contractor who opens the door to potential legal action is not acting in your best interest.
- Don’t give in to pressure. Watch out for a contractor who pressures you to sign a contract before the insurance company has estimated the damage. Some contractors say they can work with whatever your insurance company settles upon, but the homeowner needs to ensure it’s not just any amount, but the right amount. The contractor should thoroughly examine the home and check that their insurance adjuster didn’t miss any damages.
- Know your material choices. A contractor who does not offer you different shingle options is not looking out for your best interest. The style and color of the shingles you install can affect the resale value of your home. GAF contractors can offer extensive design and color choices for your home, or if future storm protection is important, you’ll know to ask about GAF’s Impact-Resistant Shingles. Check out the choices now so you’re ready. Knowledge is power.
Additional Tips from NRCA
(context sited from the National Roofing Contractors Association)
- Check for a permanent place of business, telephone number, tax identification number and, where applicable, a business license.
- Don’t hesitate to ask a roofing contractor for proof of insurance. In fact, insist on seeing copies of his liability coverage and workers’ compensation certificates. (U.S. workers’ compensation laws vary by state. Consult your state’s laws to determine workers’ compensation insurance requirements.) Make sure the coverages are in effect through the duration of the job. Many building and home owners have been dragged into litigation involving uninsured roofing contractors. Also, if a contractor is not properly insured, you may be liable for accidents that occur on your property.
- Check to see if the roofing contractor is properly licensed or bonded. Some states have specific licensing requirements, and others do not. Your state’s Department of Professional Regulation or Licensing Board will have this information.
- Make sure the contractor is financially stable. A professional roofing contractor can provide current financial information about his company.
- Look for a company with a proven track record that offers client references and a list of completed projects. Call these clients to find out whether they were satisfied.
- Insist on a detailed, written proposal and examine it for complete descriptions of the work and specifications, including approximate starting and completion dates and payment procedures.
- Have the contractor list the roofing manufacturers with which his firm is a licensed or approved applicator. Most roof systems require special application expertise to achieve lasting quality.
- Have the contractor explain his project supervision and quality-control procedures. Request the name of the person who will be in charge of your project, how many workers will be required and estimated completion time.
- Check to see if the contractor is a member of any regional or national industry associations, such as NRCA. Being a member of industry associations demonstrates a commitment to professionalism.
- Call your local Better Business Bureau or Department of Professional Regulation to check for possible complaints filed against the contractor.
- Carefully read and understand any roofing warranties offered, and watch for provisions that would void it.
- Choose a company committed to worker safety and education. Ask the contractor what type of safety training he provides for his workers and what industry education programs they have attended. The best roofing contractor is only as good as the workers who install the roof system.
- Keep a healthy skepticism about the lowest bid. If 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. Remember, price is only one of the criteria for selecting a roofing contractor. Professionalism, experience and quality workmanship also should weigh heavily in your decision.
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