Imagine waking up to the nightmare scenario of a tree crashing onto (or through) your roof. During the latest severe winter weather conditions, that was the frightening reality for many northwest homeowners. A combination of heavy ice and strong winds toppled large trees and tore off massive limbs, resulting in major roof damage–for hundreds of homeowners. Throughout the country, other regions are continuing to battle sub-zero freezing temperatures, heavy snow and ice.
If you are faced with having to make immediate repairs to restore your home’s roof, you’ll need to proceed carefully to make sure you’re hiring an experienced pro, and not one of the many fly-by-night “storm chasers” who travel from disaster to disaster preying on storm victims desperate for a contractor.
According to the Metal Roofing Alliance (MRA), the nation’s leading industry trade organization, the first step is to decide what roofing material will work best for your home, given your regional climate conditions, performance needs and style preferences (see fact sheet below for more information).
It’s also important to make sure any roofer you hire is familiar with the roof materials used on your home. While asphalt shingles are the most common, some roofers specialize in other roofing products like metal, composite or stone, and some will further specialize in working with flat or low-slope roofs. Before hiring any renovation company, installer or contractor, it’s also important to check with your insurance company and vet them properly.
“The best quality roofing material is only as good as the installation, so don’t be afraid to ask tough questions of your installer,” said Renee Ramey, MRA executive director. “Credible pros will welcome the opportunity to answer questions and should be happy to provide as much information as you need to help you feel confident about your decision.”
Important questions to ask before hiring a roofing contractor
Once you’ve decided on material, approach at least three roofers to compare bids, experience, project details and claims. Be thorough and ask these questions before hiring or approving bids:
- How long have you and your company been in business?
- Are you and your crew licensed, bonded and insured?
- What is your experience working with my preferred roofing materials?
- Can you provide three project examples and references from recent jobs you’ve completed?
- What steps will you take to protect my property, home and landscaping during the process?
- What is the brand/manufacturer of the materials you’ll be using? How long have they been in business and how long have you been working with them? What is their track record?
- What kind of product and installation warranties are offered, are they transferrable and how long is the product guaranteed to last?
- What verifiable safety, performance and environmental standards, testing and regulations does the manufacturer adhere to?
- What type of performance ratings does the product have for conditions such as severe weather and fire protection?
- What customer service support do you and the manufacturer offer should an issue, problem or question arise?
- Does the manufacturer have favorable reviews from other customers and credible, third-party business rating organizations? Are they members of industry-leading trade organizations, such as the MRA?
Watch out for these red flags
Beware of any contractor who demands cash or full payment upfront, has no physical address or identification, steers you to a specific lender, tries to act as the intermediary by asking to file insurance claims on your behalf, or wants your personal financial information prior to starting the process.
Verify their web and physical address, look up online reviews and ask for references, get cost estimates, schedules and other agreements in writing (in advance) and ensure they have the right permits.
Also, if applicable, don’t forget to check with your HOA to refresh yourself on any design or project rules or requirements before the job starts and communicate clearly with the contractor so that they are aware.