Repairing or replacing your roof is a big job, both in terms of scope and importance. A leaky roof can be a headache and can cause great damage to your house as a whole. Choosing a roofer can be a daunting task, given the stakes involved and the available information. So how can you be sure to choose the right roofing contractor for your job? We will run down everything you need to know, including expected costs, tips on finding potential contractors, advice for negotiating the contract and information on what to expect after the job is complete.
What Does a New Roof Cost?
We cannot give you any more than a ballpark estimate to know what your roof replacement cost will be, but it can be helpful to start planning your savings and budgeting strategy as far ahead as possible, so nice round numbers can be helpful.
According to HomeAdvisor.com, the average cost of a new roof is almost $6800. The cost of roofing will vary geographically, but you probably have a good idea of how the cost of living in your area compares to the national average. To get a better idea of your specific costs, use an online roofing cost calculator.
The cost of replacing your roof is right in line with other major home renovation projects. With this big of an investment, it makes sense to take your time and do your homework. So what should you know before you begin your contractor search? We will discuss several important tips and strategies below.
Narrowing Down the FieldInstalling a roof is something that requires experience and expertise — no offense to hardworking people trying to earn a living, but this is not an area where you should trust a part-timer. Even if you trust their skills, are they licensed and insured? Can they offer you a warranty? Established roofing contractors who have invested in their business and their reputation will check all of these boxes.
If you think you have a good reason to consider a part-time, keep this in mind: They may say they’ll stop by at the drop of a hat if something goes wrong down the road, but ask yourself: Can you afford to wait until the weekend if you spring a leak on Tuesday? Not to mention the fact that there is nothing holding them to the promise of “just call and I’ll come over.”
Choose an Established Local CompanyLocal companies are invested in their communities, and their reputations are extremely valuable. You can trust that they value your voice and the weight your recommendation will carry in future referrals. A local company is also in a position to respond more quickly when you have an issue or an emergency after the fact. It is difficult to respond to an emergency quickly if your roofer is three hours away.
You also want to make sure the roofing companies you consider have an established track record of success. Companies go out of business all the time, but a warranty on a roof is only as solid as the company that offers it. Don’t expect another company to honor the warranty. Five years is a good benchmark for an established roofing contractor. A bad businessperson will not last that long in this business.
“Storm Chasers” and Door-to-Door SalesmenIf someone knocks on your door and tries to sell you a new roof, understand exactly what they are doing: selling. The act of selling requires the salesman to convince the customer that they need a product, and that can mean lying, exaggerating or instilling fear.
The key to sales is to talk to as many targets as possible. And trust us when we say everyone is getting the same pitch, regardless of the state of their roof. Why would the salesman waste their time on “You know, your roof looks pretty good. You don’t need to replace your roof today — I just wanted to stop in and say hello.”?
This is not to say your roof does not need replacement, but someone knocking on your door right around the time you are planning to replace it would be an unlikely coincidence.
When an intense storm rolls through an area, the unreliable contractors are sure to follow. Avoid these contractors at all costs. These “storm chasers” are more likely to perform shoddy work for a quick buck taken from desperate people. Even if they do a commendable job, they will be out of town just as quick as the storm was. If you have issues down the road, they will not be around to help.
Soliciting ReferralsWhen trying to narrow the field, this is one case where the opinions of your friends and family can be trusted. Find out whom they used, and how satisfied they were in the end. Everyone has an opinion about their contractors, and your friends and family will not be shy about sharing.
Check your local BBB and other places to see what sort of feedback and ratings your potential contractors have. Do they awards? Are they certified or endorsed in any special way or do they have many complaints or negative reviews? These organizations are impartial, so use them as a weigh the positive or negative referrals you have received from your friends and family.
Online resources such as Angie’s List can also be valuable if you are having trouble finding local recommendations. Even if you are not, more information is always a good thing.
Compare your personal recommendations against the list you received from the BBB and other online resources. Narrow your options down to three before you contact anyone directly.
Getting Quotes — At Least 3 of ThemAfter you have identified three contractors who have availability in your timeframe and are positively reviewed or recommended, it is time to solicit quotes. When you receive the quotes, keep this in mind:
The first negotiation should be for a free estimate. Your contractor should be happy to send someone by your house for a quick visual inspection and estimate.
Do not Just Take the Lowest OfferJust as with many other things in life, you get what you pay for. Materials and labor are roughly the same for every contractor in a given area, so if one bid comes in at a substantially lower price, chances are that contractor is hiding something. It could be that they are purposely misleading you on the total cost of the job, or that they are dangerously underestimating what the job is going to require. In either case you can figure it out for yourself if you:
Detailed Estimate or ProposalInsist on a detailed estimate that includes specific products and services so you can understand what each quote offers. You might find that one contractor comes in thousands lower because they do not offer the same quality products or services.
Most importantly, make sure any oral promises made by the contractor are put in writing. It is nothing personal, but even if you trust your contractor, getting every detail in writing reduces the possibility for miscommunications and misunderstandings as you go through the process.
Insurance and LicensingMake sure to verify you contractor is licensed and insured. You can verify licensing in Maryland by visiting the Maryland Home Improvement Commission website at http://www.dllr.state.md.us/pq/ . If a contractor is not fully insured for general liability and workers compensation, you will be assuming that liability yourself.
Don’t Pay for the Whole Job Up Front
If any of the contractors you have contacted for quotes require full payment up front, cross them off the list. Standard practice is to require a portion up front with the signed contract, with the final balance due at job completion.
Evaluate CommunicationIt is natural to have follow-up questions when you receive your quotes. As you communicate with the contractors to get your questions answered, be mindful of your communication efforts. Are they easy to reach and responsive to your requests?
Communicate often — try not to be the overbearing customer who demands to oversee every task, but you do want to make sure your contractor is a willing communicator. There is nothing worse than having a contractor disappear for weeks when the job is half-finished.
A roofer’s communication should be at its best during the quote and negotiation process. After all, they are business people, and they are attempting to win your business. If the contractor does not communicate well at this stage of the process, it is unlikely to improve once they have your money and a signed contract.
Making the DecisionOnce you understand the quotes you have received and you have an idea of how easy it will be to work with each contractor, you are ready to make a decision. If you have done your research and you have taken the process seriously, the choice will be obvious. A substantial price difference or a disagreement over the quote could disqualify a roofer. Perhaps uncertainty over insurance coverage could knock one out of the running.
If prices are within a comfortable margin, consider the communication and trustworthiness factors. When you consider the boost in value your home gets from a new roof can potentially offset half or more of the roof replacement cost, do not put yourself through a less-than-pleasant project just to save a few hundred dollars.
When you are comfortable with every aspect of the contract and both sides are clear on all expectations, only then should you sign anything and pay.
Getting StartedNow that you understand the process, you can begin your search with confidence. The roof of your house provides protection and security that is easy to take for granted. When this protection is compromised, you cannot afford to take shortcuts. Taking your time and sticking to a sound decision-making process will help you find a roofing company that values results.
Local, family-owned companies like Garner Roofing offer the highest level of quality and customer satisfaction. We put our name and reputation on the line to earn your business. You’ll be glad you chose a company that puts the focus on the customer. We treat your property like it is our own, and we will always keep the lines of communication open. We use only quality products, and we are always looking for ways to improve our business, from the quality of our work to the quality of our operation.
Contact us to schedule your free estimate at a specific time — not a vague, inconvenient two hour window. We will treat you like our only customer and Above all, we deliver what we promise.