How to Choose The Best Roofing Contractor


A new roof or a substantial repair is a big investment, so before committing to a roofing contractor, do your homework. Study the credentials of prospective roofing companies and look for complaints from disgruntled clients. Be skeptical of bids that sound to good to be true -- the roofer could be from a fly-by-night uninsured company that does substandard work, according to the National Roofing Contractors Association.

Things You'll Need

  • Pen and paper
  • Access to the internet
  • Eliminate scam roofing companies. Look for a permanent place of business, phone number and tax identification number. Ask to see local business license. Request a list of local clients that you can contact for references.

  • Find a roofing company qualified and trained in installing the type of roof you want. Ask contractors for a list of roofing systems that they are trained and certified to install. A legitimate roofing contractor should be able to produce credentials for you to examine, according to the Better Business Bureau.

  • Ask to see proof of general liability insurance and workers compensation coverage. Without proper insurance, you could be liable for injuries that occur on your property. Check with your state's department of professional regulation to make sure the contractor is licensed and bonded.

  • Insist on a written, detailed estimate and complete description of the work that will be done. Find out how many workers will be assigned to your project, who the supervisor will be and how long it will take to complete the project.

Tips & Warnings

  • Don't deal with roofing contractors who ask you to pay for the work up-front.
  • In many instances a residential home will originally have cedar shakes installed and the home owner wishes to replace the cedar shakes with asphalt-type shingles. Some times cedar shakes are hidden because they were roofed over with asphalt shingles and this is unknown to the homeowner until revealed through the inspection. Although this is an acceptable application, eventually the time comes when the asphalt-type shingles need to be replaced and both the shingles and cedar shakes will have to be removed. In either case it is critical to know that these two types of roof systems require very different roof decks. The problem with applying asphalt-type shingles to a roof deck that originally had cedar shakes installed is encountered when fastening-down the shingles, and is explained as follows: Cedar shakes need to breathe so the roof decking used for them is not solid but consists 1"x 8" or 1"x 10" boards with spacing between them to allow proper ventilation. Fastening cedar shakes to avoid these spaces can easily be attained because cedar shakes have a broad nailing area. Asphalt shingles, on the other hand, must be fastened within a 1 inch strip across the shingle in accordance with all manufacturer specifications. Therefore, a solid roof deck is required so all nails properly adhere to the deck. Inevitably, when installing asphalt-type shingles on a cedar shake deck set-up, the 1 inch nailing rows will align with the spacing between the cedar shake roof decking, resulting in that entire row of shingles not being fastened to the deck. Although this is sometimes avoided by simply nailing higher on the shingle, it would not only result in the potential of shingles being blown off, but likely will void the manufacturer warranty on the shingles. Therefore, when replacing cedar shakes with asphalt-type shingles, it is essential to make proper modifications. It can be cheaper to skip this modification and provide a lower bid to win the bid, so BEWARE!

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