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A roofing contractor on the job, working on the roof of a house.

Roofing Contractors

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One of the most critical parts of your house is also the most vulnerable: the roof. It can sustain damage from wind, snow, ice, heavy rains, and fallen trees. Making sure you hire a reputable roofing contractor to repair or replace your roof will ensure that your home is protected from the elements for decades to come. Similar to exterior painters and siding installers, roofing contractors also have a busy season, which can affect their pricing and availability. Here’s how to hire the best roofing contractor.

1

Ask neighbors, friends, co-workers, and relatives for referrals. Arrange to see how their projects turned out. But do additional homework by talking to at least three contractors and requesting written estimates. Inspect bids carefully and check the details. You’re looking for skill, commitment, and integrity. Make sure they have a local history. The Better Business Bureau warns against fly-by-night roofing contractors who roll into town after a disaster to scam desperate homeowners.

2

Be sure the roofer is licensed, bonded, and insured. Roofing is a dangerous job, so be sure your contractor has current workers compensation insurance. Also, the contractor should carry insurance in case your new roof fails in a storm, which could damage your property and possessions. Ask for the different warranties involved in both the roofing work and for the materials the roofer uses.

3

Check references. When you talk to their previous clients, ask the following: Was the job finished on time? Were the results what you expected? Was the foreman on-site? If it rained during the construction, did they tarp and protect the unfinished areas? How thoroughly did they dispose of the old roof? Did they take precautions to safeguard the landscaping around your house?

4

Discuss the various types of roofing materials the contractor uses—tile, shingle, shake, rock, concrete, and metal—and the advantages and disadvantages regarding your house. Certain types of weather may affect material choice. If you are planning to installing solar panels in the future, the roofer should know that. And your community may require a certain type of roof, so be sure the roofer is familiar with the guidelines and restrictions for your neighborhood.

5

Once you choose a roofer, review the written contract before you sign. It should itemize what’s to be done, the timeline, milestone payments, and specifications and prices of the materials to be used. Be clear about your expectations and how potential cost overruns can be prevented. Paying a deposit is a standard practice, but don't pay in full until the project is completed to your satisfaction. Some roofing projects may require a permit, and you can be fined if your project is not up to code. It’s the contractor’s job to get the permits.

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