Purchasing a new roof, or even having roof repairs done, can be a big event and a big decision. Making the wrong choice about the contractor you hire could cause you headaches for years to come.
To help you avoid making the wrong choice, here are five questions to ask every roofer you interview. We'll tell you what questions to ask and the answer you should expect to receive.
TIP: When you're interviewing roofing contractors, these five questions should rise to the top, however, don't make your entire decision based only on these five questions. You may not find a roofer who scores 100% on your questions, but this should give you a foundation so you have a good feel for which contractor will be the best one to hire.
Here's a video on this topic if you prefer to watch rather than read.
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR ROOFER - 1
What Is Your Office Address?
Why should you ask the roofers this question? Because it will give you a feel for how credible of a business the contractor is running.
- If his address is not a local address you should look for a different roofing contractor. If his address is not in your town or your state, you will likely have problems if you have any warranty requests or repairs needed.
- If the address is a P.O. Box definitely look for a different roofing contractor. A P.O. Box address may indicate that the roofer is trying to conceal the fact that he's not a local contractor, or that he runs his business out of his home.
- If his address is a residence, that may not be a bad thing - a lot of people run their businesses out of their homes - however, it may indicate that the contractor is not a permanent business. It would probably be better to keep looking until you find a roofer you're comfortable with who has an established business address.
- If the address is a business location, either in a strip mall, an office complex, or a stand-alone building, that's a good indication that the roofer has "planted roots" in your community and is serious about establishing and maintaining a credible, professional reputation.
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR ROOFER - 2
What Is Your Contractor's License Number?
This is an important question to ask and to get a correct answer for. In Colorado, El Paso and Teller counties each issue license numbers to roofing contractors. Roofing contractors in Colorado Springs are under the oversight of Pikes Peak Regional Building Department (PPRBD), which is the entity that issues the roofing contractor licenses and license numbers.
If a contractor doesn't have a license in your county or municipality, he cannot pull the required permit for your re-roof so definitely find a different contractor to hire. Permits are required for all re-roofs and all repairs over 100 square feet in scope. The ONLY correct answer to this question is a number. Then be sure to contact your licensing authority to find out if that license number is still valid and in good standing. You can contact PPRBD at 719-327-2880, or visit their website to search for information on contractors.
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR ROOFER - 3
Do You Have Workmen's Comp Insurance?
The sad reality is that many roofing contractors in Colorado Springs and other communities do not carry workmen's comp insurance because it's expensive insurance to maintain. If, however, someone from the roofing company, or one of their subcontractors gets injured on your property, there may be a battle you may have to face about the liability for the medical expenses, especially if a personal injury lawyer gets involved.
While there is a possibility that you, as the property owner, would not have any liability, the best action is to only hire a contractor who has all his employees and subcontractors covered with this insurance.
The right answer to this question is, "Yes, we do have workmen's comp insurance!"
Once you know that your contractor has WC insurance, you can ask him to have his insurance agent mail or Email you a copy of his insurance certificate. Do not rely on a copy of a certificate that he hands you because those are too easily counterfeited. Be sure to get a genuine copy of the certificate directly from his insurance agent.
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR ROOFER - 4
Do You Require Any Money Up Front?
Many contractors may tell you that they need to collect money up-front in order to cover their costs for materials and labor. Some times, they'll even ask for that deposit at the time you sign the contract.
While this may sound reasonable, it's a violation of Colorado Senate Bill 38, passed in June, 2012, which requires that a roofing contractor who collects a deposit must either wait until materials are delivered to your property, as a sign of good faith that he will do the work, or hold your funds in trust and not deposit them into his general account until materials are on-site.
This law was passed to prevent homeowners from losing hundreds of thousands of dollars every year to contractors who would collect a deposit check, and then never complete the work or, some times, even start doing any work. They would simply "take the money and run," leaving homeowners with unfinished roofing work, or no roofing work at all.
The right answer to this question is, "No, we don't collect a deposit until we have delivered materials to your house."
Every legitimate roofing contractor will be able to purchase materials and pay for his labor without collecting money from you up-front.
QUESTIONS TO ASK YOUR ROOFER - 5
Will You Help Me Pay My Deductible?
OK, this is kind of a trick question. The reason that it's a trick question is because in Colorado it's illegal for a roofing contractor to pay, waive, rebate, or discount a homeowner's deductible. In fact, a roofing contractor can't even tell a homeowner that he'll do that and this has to be stated on the roofer's contract.
If you encounter a roofer who is offering to pay all or part of your deductible, or give you a "bonus" or "reward" or "fee" for allowing him to put a sign in your yard, that roofer is acting illegally and you can bet that he'll try making that money back in some way, whether that's in lower quality material, lower quality labor, neglecting to carry the proper insurance, or "finding other items" on your roof or property that he needs to "fix," and charging you a premium for it.
If you ask a roofer if he'll pay your deductible and his answer is, "Sure we can do that," that's a good indication to you to keep searching for the right roofing contractor for you.