A new roofing project is no small undertaking. While a great roof can stand the test of time, a poorly-crafted roof can only lead to more problems in the future. If you’re not careful when choosing a roofer for your next project, you may find yourself out of money with nothing to show for it.
Before you start your next roofing project, here are five essential steps you should take in order to find the best roofer for the job.
1. Treat it like a job interview
Choosing a roofer is a big decision and should not be taken lightly. Ultimately, you are putting the wellbeing of your entire home in the hands of a stranger. Roofing is a huge undertaking, so don’t treat it like just another purchase – make it a job interview.
When it comes to roofing, precaution and selectiveness are necessities. Almost anyone with tools and a pickup truck can claim to be a roofer, but that doesn’t mean they’ll do a good job. If you want to save yourself from future headaches, it’s important to get to know your prospective roofer before making a commitment.
Like any job interview, your prospects should give you a full “resume” of their experience and relevant qualifications. They should also be able to tell you if they’re insured and the steps they’ll take to protect your home in the case of unforeseen circumstances.
Remember, the prospective roofers you talk to are selling themselves as much as they are the services they provide. Be on the lookout for behavioral cues like eye contact and note-taking. If the roofer pays close attention to you when you discuss your project, it’s a good sign that he or she will show the same attentiveness while working on the project itself.
2. Pick the roofer, not the equipment
When speaking to prospects, don’t get so caught up in flashy equipment, product names, and industry jargon that you forget to base your decision on the roofer’s character. Often, homeowners spend too much time talking about the specifics of the job and not enough about the person who’s going to be doing it.
With how easy it is for anyone to show up at your door claiming to be a roofer, “buyer beware” should always be the rule. Just because they can throw out some fancy terms and industry-related literature doesn’t necessarily mean that they’ll do a great job.
Read your prospective roofer’s character, and decide if they’re trustworthy. A trustworthy roofer will do a good job and give you a roof you can be proud of. Moreover, he or she will be able to prove their abilities through examples of past work and customer referrals, allowing you to judge them through their work and not through their words.
Of course, having the latest and greatest equipment IS a plus, but keep in mind that the trustworthy and proven roofing company may carry the same equipment as their competitors to begin with.
3. Stay local
Always try to find a local roofer. In addition to making it easier to get in contact with their previous customers and see examples of their past work, a local firm will also have an established presence and reputation within the community that you can use to help make your decision.
Choosing a local roofer will also make it easier for you to get back in contact with the company if problems arise after the project has been completed. Disreputable firms might try to dodge your calls, but finding a local roofer ensures that if something goes wrong you can go to the office and talk to someone face-to-face.
Before signing any contracts or exchanging any money, make sure you have your prospective roofer’s physical address, phone number, and any other relevant contact information. If they can’t provide one, move on to someone else.
Likewise, avoid “storm-chasers,” roofers that come in after storms or other natural disasters to sell roofing to people in affected areas. You may need an immediate solution, but months after the job is done and problems begin to arise, they may be on the other side of the country, costing you thousands of dollars without a solid roof to show for it.
4. Don’t be afraid to say “No”
Most importantly, never forget that you’re choosing your roofer, not the other way around. No matter how much they may talk up their business, you aren’t obligated to hire them. If something feels off, you may be saving yourself a big headache in the future by being picky today.
Remember that you are the employer and the roofer is selling himself or herself to you. He or she should be eager to answer your questions and alleviate any doubts you might have. Acknowledging your personal needs is a roofer’s way of distinguishing their business from the competition; if they fail to do so for any reason, it’s probably a sign that they don’t have your best interests at heart.
5. Ask the right questions
Interviewing the roofer is a necessary part of making the best and most informed decision possible, but make sure not to confuse asking a lot of questions with asking the right questions. Even if you can say with certainty that they’re a legitimate business, that still doesn’t automatically mean that they’re the best business for your project.
Get all of the relevant information, in writing, that you can from the prospect. This includes contact information, the company’s physical address, how long they’ve been in business, their relevant industry memberships and affiliations, and customer feedback from past jobs. You should also get upfront estimates for pricing, the estimated job duration, and the estimated completion date.
When asking questions, try to make them as open-ended as possible. The more information you get, the better, and asking questions that take more time to answer also gives you more opportunity to judge the roofer’s character.