Hiring a roofer is a challenging proposition. After a bad storm in our area, I realized our roof had been damaged and had to start contact roofers about taking care of the problem before it got worse. What I learned right away is that you will find big differences between these professionals in terms of cost and professionalism. Let me share with you some pointers that will help you when you find yourself hiring someone for installing roof shingles.
Finding the Right Roofer for the Job
In most cases, the first place you’ll start your search for a roofer is in the Yellow Pages. That’s a big mistake. When you look in the phone book, your eye is going to focus on the largest ads and those are the folks you’ll end up calling. The bad news is that big ads don’t translate into the best service, just the highest prices (at least most of the time).
Instead, you should start by talking to your friends and family members who’ve had roof work done. They can give you the names of people to consider and people to avoid. After you have a list of potential names, you need to make sure they are licensed contractors for your area. To do this, you can go to www.cslb.ca.gov which is the Contractor’s State Licensing Board (CSLB). You should never hire a roofer who is not properly licensed. You want to find someone licensed to provide residential roof shingles.
Before you settle on a roofer, you should have multiple professionals give you an estimate on the work and their opinion of what needs to be done. What surprised me most was how different the recommendations were for our roof. One roofer even said we’d have to strip down the entire roof and completely redo it! Remember you need a second, even a third or fourth opinion, before you make a decision.
Questions to Ask Potential Roofers
When you’re comparing roofers, you have to ask a few important questions. For starters, ask what types of shingles they will be using in the work. Make sure you do your own homework about the different shingle materials – asphalt roof shingles are a common choice - and styles so you’ll be able to make an educated decision. The golden rule is the more you pay for your shingles the longer they are going to last. Basically choose the most expensive shingles you can afford.
While not really a question, you should also ask potential roofers for at least three references. These should come from people who have recently worked with the person – not some guy who had roofing work done five years ago.
You should also go over the contract thoroughly before signing it and ask questions about anything you don’t understand. Make sure all of the terms are spelled out clearly, including the specifics of what needs to be done, when work will be started, what materials will be used, and how much the work is going to cost. While we’re on the subject of cost, be prepared to pay a deposit to get the work started. However, that deposit should be the lesser of $1,000 or 10% of the total estimate. Make sure you pay that deposit and all future payments by check or – if you must pay in cash for some reason – get a signed receipt from the contractor.
The bottom line is do not rush into a decision about a roofer just because you’re desperate to have work done to your roof. A bad choice could lead to bigger problems down the road.