Tips for Selecting the Right Roofing Contractor

A home’s roof serves as the primary means of protection from the elements.  It is also the most easily damaged by sun, wind, rain, hail, and snow.  When a roof needs replacing, selecting the right roofing contractor is important to ensure that a roof replacement project is completed professionally, safely, efficiently, and on budget.

Choosing the best roofing company for your project is an important first step since over 11 million BBB complaints are filed each year against roofing contractors.  And since roofers in Texas and several other states aren’t required to have a license, it can leave homeowners vulnerable to inexperienced companies that chase both storms and customers.  In Houston alone, there are over 3,600 roofing companies and close to 10,000 roofers within 60 miles, so if important pre-qualifying steps aren’t taken before hiring a roofing contractor, the chances of selecting an unqualified roofer go way up.

Below are some helpful tips for choosing the right roofing contractor for your home’s roof replacement. 

Research and Recommendations

  1. Get Local Referrals:
    • Ask friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors for recommendations. Local contractors are familiar with area codes and regulations and have established long-term relationships with suppliers and crews.
  2. Check Online Reviews:
    • Look at customer reviews on websites like Google, Yelp, and the Better Business Bureau (BBB).  Paying attention to both the number of reviews and the overall rating will help in the decision process.  The closer to 5 stars the reviews are, the better the company likely is.  About 66% of roofers go out of business in the first 10 years, so the longer the reviews go back, the better.

Verification and Credentials

  1. Verify Licensing and Insurance:
    • Ensure the contractor has the necessary licenses and insurance. This should include general liability and worker’s compensation (comp) insurance. Ask for copies of these documents and even check with the insurance company itself to make sure the roofing company is presently covered.
  2. Check Certifications:
    • Many roofing manufacturers offer certification programs for contractors. These certifications can be an indicator of a contractor’s skill and professionalism.  Ask if the roofing company has the SELECT ShingleMaster certification.  Only 1% of roofers have this designation from CertainTeed roofing materials.  This certification can only be earned and not bought.  This means that a company that is SELECT ShingleMaster certified can offer extended manufacturer warranties in addition to workmanship warranties.

Experience and Expertise

  1. Evaluate Experience:
    • When possible, consider choosing a roofing contractor who has many years of experience in the roofing industry. Experienced contractors are more likely to provide quality workmanship and reliable service.  Experienced roofers will also remove all old nails from the previous shingles to prevent any nail pops and damage to the new shingles.  Installing new roof jacks to pitch is also preferred to just replacing pipe jacks since pipe jacks can cause up to 90% of all roof leaks.
  2. Specialization:
    • Ensure that the roofing contractor specializes in the type of roofing material desired. Some roofing companies may have more experience with specific materials like asphalt shingles, metal roofing, or tile.  Some roofers are big enough that they have good experience with all types of roof installs.

Detailed Proposals

  1. Obtain Multiple Quotes:
    • Getting at least three quotes from different roofing contractors is a good idea. Comparing the proposals not just on price but also on the scope of work, materials used, and estimated completion time is the best way to compare apples to apples.
  2. Detailed Written Estimates:
    • A detailed written roof replacement estimate should include a breakdown of materials, labor costs, start and completion dates, and payment terms. It should also specify the brands and types of materials to be used.

Warranties and Guarantees

  1. Understand Warranties:
    • Ask about the warranties offered by the roofing contractor. This includes both the manufacturer’s warranty on roofing materials and the contractor’s warranty on workmanship. Make sure to get all warranties in writing.  Ask if the labor warranty is transferable as well.

Communication and Professionalism

  1. Assess Communication:
    • Pay attention to how the roofing company communicates. They should be responsive, clear, and courteous. Good communication is essential for a smooth project and a good client–business relationship.
  2. Professionalism:
    • Look for signs of professionalism.  A professional roofing contractor will have a local business address, a business phone number, and a website. They should also provide a written contract and they shouldn’t collect money up front, but wait until the job is complete.

Additional Considerations

  1. Check for Complaints:
    • Check with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and the local consumer protection agency to see if any complaints have been filed against the roofing contractor.
  2. Ask About Subcontractors:
    • Will the roofing company be using subcontractors for the project? If so, ensuring that the subcontractors are also insured and qualified is a good idea.
  3. Inspect Completed Projects:
    • When possible, visit completed projects in the area to see the roofing contractor’s work firsthand. This will give a better idea of their quality and craftsmanship. Ask if they can provide a list of at least 15 to 20 clients they have served within the past month or two.
  4. Get a Written Contract:
    • Ensure all details of the roofing project are written in contract form. This should include the scope of work, payment schedule, materials used, timeline, and warranty information. Review it carefully before signing.

Selecting the right roofing contractor to replace an aging or damaged roof can seem like a daunting experience, but by following the tips above, an educated and informed decision can be made in selecting a good and reliable roofing company that will use the best materials and perform high-quality workmanship to ensure that the roofing project is a success.