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Top Roofing Questions to Ask Your Roofing Contractor!

Test How Knowledgeable Your Roofer Really Is!

When the time comes to make your decision about which roofing company you will hire, don’t let price be the only determining factor.

Your cost is just one of several points to take into consideration. In addition to hiring a reliable company you want to make sure that the work you paid for gets done fully and that you’re protected from any unforeseen problems. In fact, a company that has a significantly lower estimate could be taken as a warning sign.

We’ve compiled a list of 17 questions and answers to make it easier for you to see if the roofing contractor you’re thinking of hiring is the best choice for the job. After selecting a few potential companies, ask the roofers these questions and see what their responses are. When you’re done asking your questions, then you’ll be prepared to pick the right roofer for your job.

17. What are my warranties?

Roofing companies should offer you two kinds of warranties: a manufacturer’s warranty and a labour warranty.

A manufacturer’s warranty is the guarantee that the maker of the roofing materials offers the end customer. It typically states what the replacement requirements are if the roofing materials are inadequate or defective and for what length of time the materials are good for.

A labour warranty is what the roofing company that performs the work offers the end customer. Usually it backs up the promise made by the roofers that all work will be done according to code and that your new roof will be professionally installed.

It’s important to understand what the extent of your warranties are and which one is applicable if a problem does happen. Keep it in your mind that if there is a manufacturer’s defect the trouble will show up soon after the roofing job is finished. Professional contactors will back their work with a warranty, and most roofing manufacturers will honor their full warranties when installed by certified installers.

16. Will they take photos of the trouble spots before and after the work is done?

Most people don't have complete access to their roof, so they have to take the word of the roofer that climbed up there at face value (for example, if your flashing is hidden and the roofer says that it needs repair.)

When the roofing company performs its inspection, ask for photos of the trouble spots to be taken. Your roofer should be able to take quick photos using their phones or a digital camera while they are on your roof or in your attic. They should also be able to take photos during the work and at the end, so you will feel like you're up on the roof with them through the job.

15. Do they have references?

When you're researching roofing companies ask for references for similar jobs that they have done within the past 12 months. So for example, if you're a homeowner looking for a roofer to put shingles on your roof, ask for the closest references to that specific kind of job.

It might not always be as simple to find an exact match. What you're looking for is an expectation of what it could be like if you hire this roofing company to do your job. Were they easy to get along with? Did they clean up the job site at the end of every day? Were all the past customer's questions and concerns dealt with? Make sure to ask if the roofer went over their original price or time estimate.

14. Does the roofing contractor use subcontractors?

You should know exactly who will be working on your roof. A roofing company that places subcontractors on a project should have a good reason why their own crew can't do the job.

Some so-called roofing companies might actually do with in other areas, like painting or construction. This may mean that the company subcontract out their roofing jobs, making them more of a general contractor company than a specialist in roofing.

It's important that the roofing team that works on your building be properly trained and experienced roofers. Ask the question first and make sure that the team putting down your roof is under the direct employ of the company you hired.

13. Learn about the kind of roofing system you need installed, then ask detailed questions about it.

One of the best ways to learn if the roofer that you're considering is honest is to ask them specific questions about the roof you need and how they will lay it down.

For example, if you're in the market for a torch-on roof, ask the roofer what kind of material the membrane is made from. You can also ask about the flashing they might use, or the kind of qualities the material will offer. If you're in the market for a new shingle roof, ask them what manufacturers they recommend and like to use, and if they are certified by that manufacturer. The more knowledgeable you are about the roof you need, the better prepared you are to judge the answers you will get.

12. When there have been problems in the past how did the roofing company solve them?

Any business will have bad moments when things didn't all quite work out to a customer's satisfaction. The difference between a roofing company that's in it for the long term and one that might change their name a year or two down the road is in their reputation. Maybe the client had unreasonable demands ("Give me a new roof in two days!") or maybe a bigger problem was discovered when installing the new roof (like discovering that the chimney was old and it fell apart.) Whatever the case, it's how the roofing company solved the customer's problem that's important to your research.

You can also search the company in the Better Business Bureau and see if there are any complaints filed against them.

11. Do they offer a regular maintenance program?

After spending all that money on a new roof, the last thing that you want to think about is when will it need maintenance. But think of your question this way: you're asking the roofer if they are planning on being around in a couple of years, 5 years, 10 years or longer.

After a few years of protecting you from the weather and things blowing around, your roof will need to get checked on every now and then. Regular maintenance extends the life and value of your investment, and any reputable roofing company will have a maintenance schedule established and ready to talk about. A roofing company that doesn't have a maintenance schedule might still be too new, inexperienced or maybe their past customers would prefer to not have them come back!

10. Is the roofer a qualified journeyman?

You want someone who is knowledgable with all aspects of the roofing trade and has several references for jobs that are similar to yours, and can answer all your questions with confidence and insight.

9. Does the roofing company have liability insurance?

Liability insurance covers the homeowner/business owner from any potential legal issues that arise from accidents, damage or other unforeseen problems that arise during the roofing job. Ask the roofers that you interview if they have liability insurance and what it covers.

8. Are they a member of the Vancouver Better Business Bureau (BBB)?

The Vancouver BBB exists to give consumers an idea about the standing of a company. Do they have a good track record with the Better Business Bureau? Does the company have a track record of grievances and complaints? You can visit the BBB online at http://mbc.bbb.org/ or call them during business hours at 604-682-2711.

7. Does the roofing company have Work Safe BC coverage?

All B.C. businesses that employ workers are required by law to register with WorkSafeBC. Companies can apply for insurance coverage and be protected in case of injuries that happen at the job site. WorkSafeBC coverage also protects the employee if they fall sick or are injured while working at the job.

6. What is the roofing company's safety policy?

Every roofing company should have its own internal safety code and policies. If a contractor tells you that their employees "just know¡± the right way to work at a job site, then ask to speak to an employee and see if they repeat what their boss just said.

You should be able to ask for a copy of the roofing company's safety policy before you hire them. Review it and see if it makes sense to you.

5. Does the roofer use superior quality roofing products and are they installed using all of the manufacturer's specifications?

Today's technology makes it affordable to use high quality roofing materials that will keep your roof protected for many years. If you don't know much about the roofing trade it can be hard to know if the materials that the roofer is using are being installed according to the product specifications. An independent roof inspector can always be called in to look over the work being done by the roofer. While it is an additional cost, what you're getting is the peace of mind knowing that the work is being done at a professional level and that your roof is being installed according to product specs.

4. What kind of warranties do I get, and will my roofer explain them to me?

After speaking with your roofer you should have a clear idea what your warranty covers and for how long it's good for. Ask questions about what the labour warranty is for the roofing company (they should have one) and what the warranty from the product manufacturer covers. Also ask about what if scenarios, such as "What happens if there is a defect found in the shingles but no leaks have occurred yet?"I Will your product warranty cover that contingency?

3. Will the roofer explain why my roof deteriorates and how long an average roof is expected to last?

Weather and time effects the roofs of houses and buildings differently depending on what kind of materials are used to protect the roof and how exposed they are to the elements. For example, a certain section of the roof that receives more run-off than the rest of it might break down faster and require repair just for that portion.

Since we live in a wetter region of the world, roofs in British Columbia are expected on average to last for about 20 years without the need for significant repair or replacement. An experienced B.C. roofer should know from inspecting a roof how long it's been up and whether the whole roof is in need of replacement or if all that's required is a small patch-up.

2. Can the roofer assess whether I need a repair or a re-roofing?

You may think that you need a new roof but it might be the case that all you need is a patch. Without inspecting your roof yourself, how can you tell if the roofer is inflating the job? If you suspect this is happening, ask for a second evaluation from another roofer. Also, ask the roofer to supply you with their reasoning. If they say that the roof has deteriorated all over, give them your digital camera and ask them to take photos of all the areas that they identified as being problems. See if these problem spots are identified by the second roofer.

1. Can you hire an independent roofing consultant to oversee the work?

It's your roof and you're in charge. You can call in an independent roofing consultant at any time to inspect that the work is being done correctly and to code. A competent roofer won't have any qualms with an independent inspector looking at his work.