Tips For Finding a Professional Roofing Contractor and Getting the Most from Your Roof


What can I do to make sure I hire a professional roofing contractor?

1. Ask your friends and associates for the name of a roofing contractor with whom they have had good experience. (Don’t stop there, see 2 through 8 below.)

2. Call your local, state or national roofing association and ask for referrals.

3. Get more than one estimate/proposal and insist on details. Don’t accept a price alone. Know exactly what you’re buying!

4. The manufacturer’s recommendations and specifications are important to the performance of your roofing system and the validity of the warranty. The recommendations and specifications are usually printed on the wrapper on each bundle of shingles and includes application instructions to include:

    a. Slopes and underlay – most major manufacturers require underlay on new construction and for re-roofing when the old roof is removed to the deck.

    b. Nails & staples – covers sizes, length, coating required and placement.

    c. Recommendations for metal drip edges and sealants.

5. The wrapper also includes. details on:

a. Application of the underlay and eave flashing requirements

b. How to begin – starter course and application techniques for wind resistance at rake edges.

c. Application of second and continuing courses – exposure (the portion of the shingle exposed to the elements).

d. Valley construction – open, closed and woven valley construction recommendations.

e. Flashing – treatment of chimneys, walls, etc.

f. Nailing instructions – based on slope, wind speeds expected, mansard application, etc.

g. Re-roofing – usually recommends nailing down or cutting away all loose, curled or lifted shingles; replace missing shingles with new ones, etc. Also recommends nails of sufficient length to penetrate the wood deck at least 3/4″; or just through plywood.

h. Warranty information is included on most wrappers. To insure you understand the manufacturer’s warranty, get a copy in advance.

6. Ask about the various options for roofing materials, there are many types of shingles some have fungus resistance (the dark stains you see on so many light colored roofs are caused by fungus or mildew), some are laminated to look more like wood shingles or shakes. The contractor should be able to show you samples of many lends and colors. Metal roofing maybe an option to consider, or built-up, single ply or modified bituminous systems if you have a very low-sloped roof.

7. Obtain references from the roofing contractor – ask for a listing of jobs he has done in your area in the last year or two … then go and see them. Knock on the door and ask how the roof is performing. Ask for the names of the vendors used by the contractor … then call them to see how the bills are paid.

8. Ask for a Certificate of Insurance with you named as the Certificate Holder. If the contractor does not have Property and Casualty Insurance (general liability) and Worker’s Compensation Insurance, you may be liable for damages he may cause or injuries to himself or his employees.

9. Ask for a copy of the roofing contractor’s warranty for materials and workmanship – usually one to two years. This binds the contractor to repair any leaks caused by his workmanship or the failure of the materials for the most critical period. Most problems with a new roof will show up in the first year or two.

10. What should I do after selecting a roofing contractor?

  • Pay nothing until the job is done – then, if you’re unsure of the job, you may hire an independent inspector to check the work
  • Have the roofing contractor look inside your building – if you have ceilings which are immediately below or part of the deck, fasteners could possibly penetrate your ceiling.
  • Watch the application of the new roof and ask questions when you see anything that doesn’t look right.
  • If the roofing contractor has included removal of debris in the contract, insist that it be done promptly. Ask for a magnetic sweep of the area to remove any stray nails. You don’t want to find them “the hard way” later.
  • Make a roofing file – keep a copy of the proposal the manufacturer’s warranty, the contractors warranty, a piece of one of the shingles (wrap it in aluminum foil very tightly – this will prevent weathering and will allow you to make a close match many years later, if needed), and a copy of a receipt for the materials from the supplier or the affidavit from the roofing contractor stating that he has paid his suppliers for the material used on your project. This greatly reduces the chances that a lien can be perfected against you by the material supplier if the contractor doesn’t pay for the materials.
  • Maintain your new roof. Keep it clear of leaves and debris and look for missing, broken or curled shingles. Keep gutters and downspouts clear. You should inspect your roof twice a year — in the spring and the fall.
  • During the warranty period, as soon as a problem is detected, call the contractor and ask for repairs. If you don’t get proper response, write a certified, return-receipt letter specifying a time within which you expect the repairs to be made.
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