Assuming you have made the decision that you are planning to replace the roof on your home, or you are going to put a new roof on a new construction, there are several good questions you can ask your roofing company before you sign on the dotted line. Or at least, before the work actually starts.
Explain to me how the layers of roofing material make the roof waterproof
Even though the roof of your home is one of the most critical components of it, it doesn’t consist of a proportionately big factor of the overall cost of constructing a house. Neither is the roof the most complicated component of a house. In modern homes, the electrics can be complex indeed. And yet, if a small error is made in the installation of that new roof, it can do untold damage before the initial mistake is even noticed. For all of those reasons, a seasoned roofing company professional will be able to explain to you in practical terms how your new roof will be installed. If they cannot, it might suggest they’re on their first or second roof.
What guarantee do I get with my new roof?
There are guarantees and there are guarantees. When it comes to the longevity of a roof, a guarantee is only as good as how easy it is to reach back to the roofing company seven years later and get help with the work they did. This is where the ‘bid’ comes in. When you first go looking for a couple / three roofing company bids before you settle on one, be aware that for a company to stand by their work with respect to the guarantee they offer you, they will have to use good materials, pay for experienced and capable staff, and do the work right the first time. To cover all of that, they must be experienced over the course of many years, and they must ask you for the money to do the job so that they can continue to stay in business. Their guarantee means they must – potentially – invest some funds in being able to follow up with visits to customers they may have served ten or even twenty years ago. The very first question, however is, how long they’ve been around, because many fly-by-night companies in the roofing trade last a few years, scrape out as much cash as they can, then disappear only to start up all over again.
The kind of guarantee you need must include the (a) length of time, (b) materials covered (c) labor covered, and (d) collateral damage.
Although a bonded and insured company covers many things they touch, I always liked the idea of having my own insurance I can call on if needed, without having to hunt down the original roofing company that did the work. So, consider doing an ‘insurance review’ with your insurance agent before any project begins. The big question is, if there is an issue with my roof before the expected life time of it, will my insurance cover the necessary repair? How long before it is no longer covered?
How long has your business being replacing / installing roofs?
Roofing companies, and may other home maintenance companies from carpet cleaners to window installers, go out of business regularly. The biggest indicator of how long you can expect a company to be around is, how long they have been around. It’s easy enough to check how long a company has been in existence. Go to the Washington State website to look up the business.
Do they have some reference customers in the neighborhood?
Reference can often be manipulated, but it’s just another checkpoint. If you do get names and telephone numbers of the roofing company’s previous customers, call each and ask about the quality of the service, cleanup and everything.
What is the roofing company’s online review status?
I remember last year, a stranger called me to ask if I could offer them services from my own company. They were a car dealership on the other side of town. While they were explaining their needs to me over the phone, I was discretely looking for any sing of them on the Internet. Aside from a basic website, they had eleven reviews on Yelp.com. What struck me was that each of all the eleven reviews was a one-star review! Speed-reading through them, it was one horror story after another. Previous customers talked of the car falling apart five hundred meters from the lot, and getting the rude, cold-shoulder when they returned the same day with issues. My goodness! It was clearly a red flag. So, go look to see if they have a Yelp presence. Read each review and decide if what is something that will influence your decision. Remember, though, any entity with a presence on Yelp (or other review site like Angie’s list or such) can’t be expected to have 100% happy reviewers. Even the best company might have one or two disgruntled reviewers from say every ten reviews they have collected.
How do you select roofing materials for the project?
Today, there are dozens of new roofing material manufacturers proving sophisticated products to the market. And like every other industry, there is a variety of product quality levels. Talk to your roofer about that they use, and go online to see what other customers are saying about those products.
Selection of product has an influence on the bid. You should not necessarily choose the lowest bid you get. A higher bid might mean two things in your favor: (a) the roofing company pays a living wage to experienced employees who have been with the company for years, and (2) they use more expensive, quality products.
How long have your staff worked for you?
Like anything a human does, they get better the more they do it. It is almost a certainty that a person who has installed a hundred roofs is better at it than a person who has installed two. Ask about the experience of the team that will be working on your home, not just in the company in general.
Are you fully bonded and insured as a roofing company?
This, too, can be easily verified. If you simply search in Google using the roofer’s license number (it is required, by law, for that license number to be on the roofer’s business cards, letterheads, and website), you may arrive directly to their company record on the Washington State government website. Check it now, not after the roofing job is finished.
Check back next week!