Questions To Ask When Choosing A Roofer
1. ARE THEY INSURED?
There are two types of insurance a contractor should carry. The first is general liability. This covers your property if in the unfortunate case, something were to happen to your home during the project. The second is workers compensation, which covers the people working on your home. Roofing contractors should carry a minimum of $1,000,000 in general liability. Their insurance certificate should also indicate that it specifically covers roofing. Because the roofing industry is one of the most expensive to insure, many roofing contractors will take out a policy that is for general remodeling, but it will not cover a claim if something were to happen during a roofing project. Workers Compensation is also extremely expensive in the state of Texas and is not required, however, most of your well established companies will carry this type of coverage. Be sure to ask your contractor to provide CURRENT insurance. Another common practice is to pay the premium down payment to get the certificate and then cancel their insurance. To be sure this is not the case, you can request a certificate with your name and address listed at the bottom. If you still have doubts, call the provider to verify.
2. DO THEY WAIVE DEDUCTIBLES?
In the state of Texas and many other states, the law is very clear that it is illegal to waive, rebate, discount or pay any portion of the deductible. We have covered this in another blog here, but in short, waiving the deductible is committing insurance fraud. With most claims, insurance will hold back a certain amount until the job is finished, called the depreciation. The ONLY way to get the full amount of depreciation paid is if the final invoice to the insurance matches what the insurance is paying. When the contractor waives the deductible but still invoices the insurance for the full amount, they have basically given you one price (a lower price) but told the insurance they did it for a higher price. This is where the homeowner and both the contractor have committed insurance fraud and both have now opened themselves up to possible legal action.
3. HOW LONG HAVE THEY BEEN IN BUSINESS AND ARE THEY LOCAL?
After a storm, neighborhoods are inundated with roofing companies. Homeowners can have their door knocked on up to 20 times just in the first day as well as collect enough door hangers and advertisements to have saved a tree. Make sure that the company you hire to do your roof, has a history in your area of installing quality materials and taking care of their customers. There are too many horror stories of contractors taking the down payment and disappearing. Do they have a list of referrals? Have they serviced their warranties? In addition, any well-established roofing company will be flexible with a down payment.
4. ARE THEY CERTIFIED INSTALLERS WITH SHINGLE MANUFACTURERS?
Have they gone through the necessary training with the manufacturers of the products they are installing? In many cases, they must be certified to offer an extended warranty on your home. They will also understand the proper installation methods for that particular product.
5. WHAT KIND OF WARRANTY DO THEY OFFER?
As mentioned above, if they are certified, they are able to offer an extended warranty that covers labor and materials. All shingles come with a manufacture warranty that cover ONLY the shingles. That means that if a shingle defect rears its ugly head in five years, they will only pay for the shingle. You will be stuck paying for the labor and all additional accessories, such as underlayment and flashings, out of pocket. In addition, if the roof wasn’t installed according to the manufacturers specs, that warranty will be voided anyway. An enhanced warranty with manufacturers like GAF and Certainteed will not just cover the shingle, but the labor and every additional material it will require to replace that roof. It will also be adjusted for inflation!
6. ARE THEY OFFERING TO "NEGOTIATE" YOUR INSURANCE CLAIM?
In the state of Texas, there is a very fine line of what your roofer can do on your claim before they are “acting as a public adjuster”. The law states the only people allowed to negotiate pricing and scope are the homeowner, an attorney or a public adjuster. Be sure that your roofing contractor stays informed and up to date with current and changing laws.
7. DO THEY TEAR OFF THE ROOF DOWN TO THE DECKING?
Most roofing companies do not take the roof all the way down to the deck. Meaning that they do not remove the felt paper or underlayment. We have reroofed homes that have had four or even five layers of felt paper! Why is this important? If you can’t see the decking, you can’t properly address rotting, weak or buckling decking. Also, multiple layers of underlayment can also cause the new shingles to lay wavy and have unpleasing aesthetic look.
8. ARE THEY USING WARRANTY SPECIFIC MATERIALS?
Most manufacturers require that certain materials be used for a specific level or grade of shingle. For instance, it is quite common for roofers to install a lifetime shingle and then use a 20 or 25 year shingle for the ridge. Not only is that shingle not made to bend over your ridge, but it will age out long before your field shingles. This is just one example of how a roofing contractor can save himself money, while giving the homeowner an inferior product.
9. ARE THEY EVALUATING YOUR CURRENT VENTILATION AND ADDRESSING INADEQUACIES?
In adequate ventilation will not only void your warranty, but will cause excessive heat in your attic that will increase your electricity bill and decrease the life of the shingles as they cook from underneath. This includes not only having the right type and placement of outtake vents on your roof, but having adequate inflow at the soffits. Without both inflow and outflow vents, your attic will not vent properly. A roofing professional will know how to assess and correct any ventilation issues.
10. ARE THEY PURCHASING NEW MATERIAL OR USING SECONDS AND SURPLUS?
In addition to the above example, there are a variety of other ways that a roofing contractor can skimp on materials and the average homeowner is none the wiser… until things begin to fail. For example, many roofing companies will install rubber pipe boots around pipe penetrations. Over a few Texas summers, this rubber WILL dry rot and cause leaks. It costs a bit more, but a quality roofer will install lead jacks that will last the life of your roof. Another area to watch out for is the type of underlayment. Are they installing the cheaper felt paper that breaks down over time or a synthetic upgraded underlayment that will last? The underlayment is that last line of defense when it comes to water penetrating into your home.
Hopefully these questions will give you head start in choosing a quality contractor that will take care of you and your property. Restoration Roofing has been in business for 15 years and comes from 5 generations or roofing quality and experience. We would be happy to inspect your property and help design the best plan of action for your property!