Questions to Ask a Roofing Contractor

How many years of experience does your business have?

It’s important to hire a contractor backed with years of experience and knowledge. Ideally, you should only hire contractors with more than 10 years of experience in the roofing business. It will also be a great advantage if the contractor has repaired/installed roofs similar to yours many times before.

Are you licensed, if yes, do you have proof?

In most states, contractors are required to be licensed by a state agency. There are different state agencies for each state. For example, the state agency of California is called the California State Licensing Board, while in Michigan, it is called Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA). Before a roofer can obtain their license, they must show that they have the required knowledge to work in the industry, understand and adhere to the building codes and show proof of insurance.

Contractors are required to be bonded in certain states, which we will cover below. To verify that a contractor’s license is current, you can usually do that online or by phone.

Q: What happens if a worker falls off my roof, or you damage my home? In other words, does the company have worker’s compensation insurance and liability insurance?

In case of injuries while at work, worker’s compensation insurance will cover employees. Employees who are not covered by compensation insurance are more likely to sue the owner of the home they were working on in order to cover medical bills, damage, and lost wages.

In case your home or property is damaged by the roofing company, liability insurance can cover you. Do note, however, that not all insurance policies pay in such cases.

Q: What happens if you skip out on the job? Are you bonded, and if so, can I see a copy?

As previously mentioned, contractors must be bonded in many states. Homeowners can be financially covered by a surety bond (form of insurance) in cases like these:

  • Another roofer must be hired as a result of the initial contractor failing to complete the work.
  • The contractor fails to pay subcontractors or the crew.
  • The contractor fails to get a permit for the work, and the city or county bills the homeowner for the permit.

The home or property of the client (you) is damaged (the surety bond might cover damage before liability insurance will, though it varies by state)

Q: Does your team have the required knowledge? How were they trained?

Many roofers learned to do their job simply with experience, with time, many of them have become very skilled at what they do. However, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics states that there are no education requirements for roofers. However, those with training experience in a high school vocational program will have an advantage.

If you have fiberglass asphalt shingles installed, you may not find contractors with more qualifications than this. However, for other roof types including flat and low-slope installations, as well as metal roofing and all other less common roof systems, it is recommended to hire a team that has been properly trained by a major manufacturer of the material being installed on your roof.

Q: Where is your business located? What is the physical address?

In case a contractor is not able to give you the physical address of the business, they cannot be trusted. A PO box is not sufficient to consider a contractor legitimate. However, even if a business is being run out of a home as opposed to an office business, this does not mean you should immediately ignore that company.

By reducing overhead, contractors can keep their rates competitive. Before agreeing to work with a contractor, it is smart to take a drive by the headquarters of the business, whether it be a company building or home. If the building and property is well-maintained, this is a good sign as it shows that the contractor values neatness, thus, making them more likely to offer better service results.

Q: How will my property be protected?

Any contractor that values protecting your property will immediately inform you how they plan to protect your home and belongings. In case roofing must be torn off, it should either be placed on tarps then into a dumpster, or directly into a dumpster. Other things will require covering, including gutters, decks, patios and bushes.

Q: Can I visit a current worksite and see your crew in action?

When asked this questions, contractors should not hesitate to allow you to see their team working on a current project, and they should also provide an address for you to visit. Once you have an address, visit it and closely observe the way the team is conduction. If you find the team being mindful of the homeowner’s property by handling it with care, this is a good sign as they are likely to do the same with your property. It’s also recommended to see how neat and organized they keep their workspace.

It is not recommended to knock on the door of the address given to ask any questions as contractors do not always have permission from homeowners to share their address as a reference.

Q: Can you provide a few references?

Once a list of three to four references has been provided, call them and ask them some of the questions in this guide. A great question ask to past clients is whether or not the crew started work on time or not. In case there was a delay getting started, noting how long they took to start after the original start date can be beneficial.

It’s quite common for roofers to set project start dates that they have no plans to respect. This is done in order to ensure that they will claim the job. Unless there has been unusually bad weather near you, any delay of more than two weeks is not viable.

Hearing what the references have to say about their experience with the contractor will help you decide which roofer to hire. For example, ask them if they recommend using the contractor if they feel their property was protected and handled with care, and whether or not the quote they were given was accurate. You can also find reviews on companies, including roofing contractors online on sites such as Yelp, Google and the BBB site. Do note that these reviews can be fake, so take them with a grain of salt.

General questions to ask a roofing contractor about the process.

Q: How far out are you scheduling? What percentage of jobs do you start on time?

Depending on your home remodeling plans, you may require a crew that can start immediately. As some roofers are booked for months in advance, it is important to know how soon they can start your project, and whether they usually stick to their schedule or not.

Q: How do you handle payment?

In cases where you, the homeowner, is providing all of the required material, there is no reason to make an upfront payment. However, if the roofer is providing the materials for the job, it is reasonable to make an upfront payment to cover the entirety or a portion of the material cost.

Q: Do you provide a manufacturer’s warranty for materials you supply and do you labor the installation?

Before choosing a material, it is important to understand the manufacturer’s warranty as they vary from one another. Usually, asphalt shingle warranties will cover the material entirely for 10 years. Over the next 15-20 years, it is prorated downward, in most cases.

Metal roofs tend to come with longer warranties. To ensure that a roof is capable of being exposed to a full cycle of seasons, labor should be covered by a warrant for at least a full year.

Q: What will be the cost to replace some or all of the roof deck, if needed?

It’s important to discuss a plan prior to the roofer taring off your roof, leaving your home exposed to its elements. Once the roof has been torn off, a roofer may tell you that it will require lots of work to replace it and will be expensive to do so. For this reason, having an estimation prior to destroying your roof will help you prepare in case your roof needs to be rebuilt entirely. It’s also important to note that the whole project should be done by one company, not multiple.