You can easily find a roofing contractor in your neighborhood, on the Internet, or even by just asking your friends. But getting the right one to work on your home is much harder. Between storm chasers and back-of-the-truck companies, the roofing industry has larger than its fair share of scams, poor workmanship, and overly expensive installations. For homeowners and real estate agents alike, it’s a murky swamp to cross.
Here’s an easy-to-follow checklist that will serve as your step-by-step guide in finding, evaluating, and hiring roofers qualified to work on your real estate projects.
The first step of the process is the easiest. There’s no shortage of companies to choose from. Ask for recommendations from your friends, surf the Internet, or visit your local hardware store or construction material supplier and ask for roofing contractors. Get as many as you can. Having at least 10 names is recommended.
Filter & Sort – Clearing your list of poor companies right from the start will save you a tremendous amount of time. Instead of 10 one-hour meetings with roofers, you may be able to narrow it down to three or four. Search for the companies online and look for the following on their sites and listings.
Website – Make sure that the companies on your list have an Internet presence. The Internet was invented decades ago. Companies that aren’t online are likely to be uninsured, unlicensed, and without warranties.
Reviews – After looking to see if the roofing companies have a Web presence, look for online reviews. Zero in on negative reviews, and ask yourself if the problem was the company’s fault or if it was just a bad customer (they exist). If you are having a hard time finding reviews, search for the contractor’s phone number online. This will often pull reviews right up.
Accreditations – Now that you have filtered companies based on the two criteria above, make sure that the companies are accredited. Look for their registrar of contractor numbers, and contact your state roofing certification board to see if there are complaints. Additionally, if the company claims to have an A+ BBB rating, verify it to make sure they’re not deceiving you.
Image via Flickr by U.S. Army Environmental.
Send out Word
Contact all the roofers on your list. Be as specific as possible with the job requirements. Include the following in your notice:
Type of Roofing Job – Let the contractors know what type of work you think they are going to be dealing with. Do you need to re-roof the whole thing, or just repair a corner or two? Is your roof made of tile, shingle, metal, or foam? Most roofers work with all materials, but being descriptive in this stage can save you time later on. If you are dealing with a small project, ask about minimums too. Some roofers require that you pay them a minimum of $1000 – ouch.
Other Related Jobs – Do you also need parts of your attic or home repaired from rainstorm water damage? Would you like to include insulation too? Some contractors can bundle services to get you a deal. At the very least, they’ll know which contractors do the best work.
Materials Needed – Roofing companies usually provide the materials needed for the construction. Let them know the materials you need so they can assess the availability in preparation of the quote.
Time Frame – When do you want the roof job done? Do you have a specific window they need to work in, do you need it done ASAP, or is the timing not important to you?
Image via Flickr by Groton School.
Get Quotes, Site Inspection
Contractors are expected to reply to your query, either with a quote, a request for a site inspection, or both. Contractors who do not fit the bill, such as those who will not be able to work within the set time frame, will likely decline the job offer right away – saving you time. Don’t pay for roof inspections out of your pocket either; the vast majority of roofing contractors offer free inspections. Compile the quotes and assist contractors with the site inspection.
Image via Flickr by Elvert Barnes.
Review the Quotes
This is where the contractors send in their bids. Carefully study the pricing and payment setup. Most contractors will demand a deposit prior to starting the work, with full payment expected after job completion. Here are the important things to look for in a quote:
Physical address of the company - It should appear in the official document together with the business name and contact information. Do not trust a company that only presents an email address or website.
Detailed pricing – A good roofer will break down quotes into easily understood components. They will tell you how much they expect materials and labor to cost and typically leave a provision in case the job costs more than expected. Be sure to read it.
Quality of materials to be used – The quote should also include details on the materials to be used. Some contractors may opt for low-grade manufactured materials to save money and increase their bottom line. Do your research. Companies to trust for roofing materials include GAF, Lapolla, and Duro-Last. Make sure to ask your roofer how long each roof material is rated to last.
Labor and other costs – How many men are going to work on the project? How much is their hourly rate?
Payment method – How much of the total price are you required to pay upfront? Immediately discard a contractor who demands full payment before completion of the job and final inspection. Try not to pay more than 30 percent of the total sale value upfront.
Interview Contractors in your Shortlist
Discard contractors that do not fit your requirements and budget. Set a separate appointment to interview the remaining contractors on your list. Even a quick phone call should do. Here are the important items you need to cover during the interview:
- Business permits, certification, affiliations, accreditation and other credentials.
- When their business was established. Older businesses have more experience and expertise. They’re also more likely to still be around to cover your warranty in five to 10 years time.
- Previous work and customer references. Ask for a portfolio, pictures, or addresses that you can visit later.
- Workers’ insurance and material warranties. Also, make sure their insurance covers possible damage to your home.
- Other services, such as getting permits and cleaning up after the construction and maintenance work, should be guaranteed.
The interview should be able to help you assess the most suitable contractor to work on your roofing project. If you still have more than one name on your list, you can ask them to draft the contract. Thoroughly review the contracts and sign the one that you think will give you the best service.
Roofing is an investment in your home that’s not to be taken lightly. Roofs can cost upwards of $20,000. Quality also varies heavily between contractors. You might initially pay $500 dollars less to go with contractor B instead of A, but in the long run it might hurt you. Do your research or risk losing your money.
Real estate professionals usually only need to go through this process only once. If you do it right the first time, you can save yourself from years of headaches.