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Guide to Choosing a Professional Roofing Contractor

Having your roof repaired or replaced is a daunting endeavor. There will literally be four to six workers on your roof making noise and exposing your property to potential water intrusion if not conducted properly. The financial exposure is significant given the potential losses, and this is with homeowner’s insurance.

So how do you select a professional roofing contractor to minimize this risk and ensure that your roof project is executed in the best possible manner?

There are six key elements with selecting a professional roofing contractor.

Legal Name and Address

This is important for several reasons, primarily you need to know what is the legal name and address of the roofer that is responsible for your roof. This is required in order to validate their license and credentials. Furthermore, having the correct legal name provides the foundation of the financial exchanges between the parties. In addition, you need this information as it should match the third party sources when you investigate this contractor’s legitimacy.

There are several indicators that the name is legitimate including letterhead, marketing materials, office location and the next most important key element: insurance.

Insurance

Every professional roofing contractor will provide insurance documentation with their proposal. A standard Accord certificate of insurance is customarily presented without you having to ask. If you have to ask for the insurance certificate after receiving the proposal, you may want to exclude this contractor from the selection pool.

The two minimum insurance policies required include general liability and worker’s compensation insurance. Without either, the homeowner is liable for the respective claims associated with the property address if they arise.

License and Credentials

Most states in the US require roofing contractors to carry or obtain a license to perform construction work. In some states, it is a simple contractor’s license. A good ratio of states mandate the roofing contractor carry a specialty license to perform roofing work. Your roofing contractor should carry a license.

Actually, they should have TWO licenses. The first relates to construction, i.e. a contractor’s or roofer’s license as explained above. The second required license is a business license. For most states, it is referred to as a franchise license issued by the state’s Secretary of State; some states mandate this at the local level where a Commissioner of the Revenue issues business licenses. The key here is that your roofing contractor should provide copies of both licenses. The business license should match the legal name as explained above. Contractor licenses and specialty licenses are often issue to individuals and the state’s contractors license board will have a database to associate the individual with a company. 

Credentials go above and beyond licenses and demonstrate a higher level of professionalism with the company. Credentials include:

  * Certifications – such as those advocated by the NRCIA,
  * Safety Cards – OASHA 10 Hour Training and Fall Protection, 
  * Manufacturer’s Approval – required to issue manufacturer’s warranty for the materials,
  * Formal Degrees – engineering, construction 4 year institution or trade programs
  * Memberships – including membership in the National Roof Certification and Inspection Association 

Referrals

A fourth key element is referrals from prior customers. Many roofing contractors provide testimonials on their website and the better organizations will include an e-mail address from that customer. Thus, you have an opportunity to ask questions and get an idea of the level of conduct and outcomes related to past projects.

Warranty

It is common to receive two warranties when a roofing project is completed. The first comes from the manufacturer of the roof materials. Their warranty often extends to five years and on a limited basis beyond that period of time. The second warranty is for workmanship. This is the roofing contractor’s assurance that the labor cost associated with any callback is completely free. The best professionals include two communication contacts after the installation. The first is done 30 days after install to verify no leaks. Customarily, the roofing contractor calls you and asks that you walk the inside of the home looking for water stains or other indications of possible leaks. The second contact is physical in nature and occurs after one year whereby the roofer stops at your home and walks around your property to inspect and look for any obvious issues that may have arisen during the prior twelve months.

The workmanship warranty customarily extends out for two years and with higher quality materials, five years. There are exceptions to workmanship which include storms, hail or tornados. In this case, they are defined as winds in excess of 80MPH or hail storms causing a certain size hail stone. But in general, the workmanship warranty covers all other incidents or issues on your roof.

Resolution Process

Finally, you want to know the process to resolve any issues that arise. The better roofing contractors want you to contact them and give them access to the roof so they may investigate and determine the source of the issue you identify. Many minor items can be addressed right then and there by the inspector. For more significant issues, the contractor will want to have the opportunity to correct the defect in a timely period such as within seven days. 

For egregious issues or differences, many contracts between the homeowner and the roofing contractor allow for an independent assessment of the issue paid by the contractor. Often the third party opinion is the position taken by the roofing contractor. The more professional roofing contractors will absorb the associated cost of repairs or cures if the third party investigator determines culpability on the contractor. However, if the third party investigator determines it is an act of God or homeowner neglect, the contractor will extend a proposal to make repairs. 

In this case, many homeowners feel slighted or disagree with the results; thus, they feel the roofing contractor is still at fault. In this case, many roofing contractors will allow the homeowner to engage their own inspector and get a determination from that third party. The key here is that the second outside inspector is paid by the homeowner and not the roofing professional. Depending on the results, determines the follow-up steps.

Overall, a professional roofing contractor stipulates these steps of action in the contract forcing both parties to behave in a preset fashion.

Summary

There are six key elements required prior to engaging a roofing contractor to perform services on your home. They include an understanding of the legal name and address of the company; presentation of insurance certificates and licenses. Furthermore, professional roofing contractors will extend a warranty, provide referrals and stipulate to the process to address problems once the project is completed.

If you want to hire a professional roofing contractor, then consider an NRCIA approved professional or authorized contractor. If you need your home inspected, use one of our certified inspectors or forensic inspector. Contact us here: NRCIA Contact Form.

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Author: David Hoare

Dave works as a consultant and regional representative to the NRCIA. He works closely with current members teaching and encouraging adherence to the integrity ethics of business operations. He is happy to assist you if you have any questions or concerns.