How to Choose The Best Roofing Contractor to Replace Your Roof
You’ve landed here because the time has come to replace your roof and you likely have many, many questions about how to begin. First and foremost, you’re looking for the best roofing contractor you can trust – one that will do the work in a professional manner, in a reasonable timeframe for a reasonable price. You need one that has a large and strong portfolio that proves their worth as a contractor.
We’ve established plenty of useful information about planning a roofing project, why it’s important to hire a local roofing contractor, red flags you should look for in contractors and all the services they should be able to provide. We address why it is important that your contractor show proof of certification and insurance and much, much more. The following information should fill in the gaps and lead to a fact-based decision on choosing the best roofing contractor for your project.
Table of contents:
7 great tips for planning a roofing project
The first step in planning your project is to think hard about what you really want your roof to look like and what you can afford. The next big step is to start researching roofing contractors, establishing a time to start the project, what to ask your potential contractor before you hire them and finally, making the decision on which one deserves your business.Tips to follow when planning a roof replacement project:
Understand your roofing needs and determine what type of roof you want
Does your roof need to be repaired or completely replaced? The best roofing contractor will determine if it is more economical to replace it now or to make repairs. If your roof is 20-plus years old, there’s a good chance the best decision will be to replace it. If that’s the case, you have to decide what type of material you’ll use.
The most commonly used materials are asphalt shingles and cedar shingle. There are advantages to both, but most homeowners choose asphalt shingles, as they’re more affordable than cedar. There are other roofing needs to consider, such as the materials under the shingles or cedar that are extremely important and will need to be replaced, such as the roof deck (if damaged), watershield and underlayment.
Create a budget for your roof replacement
Roofing contractors will work with you to stay within your budget, but the best quality roofing contractor will not use inferior products just to keep costs down. While you might pay more for quality materials, they last longer, which means you won’t have to take on another roofing project any time soon – and that saves you money in the long run. Also, remember that cost depends on numerous aspects, from the size and complexity of the roof to how steep it is and the amount of waste that has to be removed, among other factors.
Do a complete background research to find the best roof replacement contractor
You can do a lot of research on your list of potential roofing contractors simply by using the Internet. Read the reviews on each contractor you’re considering and talk to friends, family and co-workers about their experiences with the best roofing contractors that replaced their roofs. VIS Exterior has more than 100 reviews of successful projects on our website. Finally, get references from the contractor so you can see examples of their work on properties similar to yours.
Consider the weather when scheduling the project
A damaged roof must be replaced immediately, but if yours is keeping everything Mother Nature brings from getting into the house, you can schedule a reroofing project for the near future. Summer through fall is the busiest for roofing contractors. If you can schedule yours for the spring when there are fewer contractors busy with other customers, you will probably be able to get them on your project in a more timely fashion.
Ask the right questions
Ask what experience they have working on structures like yours. Ask how long the roofing contractor has been in business, who owns it and if they are local. Ask who will be doing the actual work and make sure the company is not using subcontractors with unknown job experience or a lack of references. Ask when the roofers will be able to begin your project and when it will be completed. Ask how the company keeps their workers safe and inquire about previous customers that you can talk to about their work.
Get multiple estimates
When contractors know you’re getting multiple bids on a roofing project, they’re more likely to pay attention to the fine details and avoid running the risk of overcharging. Don’t choose a roofing contractor with a low bid before you’ve done your research on them, because it is true that you often get what you pay for, and the low-ballers are likely using inexperienced labor and/or low-cost and low-quality roofing materials.
Work with a reputable roofing contractor
Reputation is everything in the roofing industry. Quality roofing contractors do everything they can to build up their credibility with customers and create a snowball effect. If you decide to partner with a contractor that has not earned that reputation for quality, you’re taking unwarranted risks.
Planning a roofing project takes quite a bit of research on your part. But if you follow the advice of others and vet your list of contractors carefully, the work you put in before the project is well worth it in the end.
Tips for hiring the best roof replacement contractor
Make your roof replacement contractor search easier by following this 15-point checklist. From investigating the history of the contractors to inquiring about their process to ensuring they are licensed, bonded and insured, the list is quite comprehensive. Check them off as you go and by the time you’ve completed the list, you’ll have all the information you need to make a fact-based decision.
Here are things you’ll want to look for in your next contractor:
1. Seek out reliable referrals
Check in with friends, family, coworkers and neighbors about who handled their roofing project to establish a solid list of reputable roofing contractors that you can investigate for your project.
2. Check out a roofing contractor’s licensing
A licensed roofer is knowledgeable of the best practices where maintaining, repairing and replacing the roof of a home is concerned. An unlicensed roofing contractor is going to present too many risks and should be disregarded.
3. Check insurance and bonding
Accidents happen, even with the highest-rated roofers. Quality roofing contractors will be insured and bonded so they’re protected, as are their customers.
4. Check out a roofing contractor’s credentials
Never hire a roofing contractor without looking into their credentials. From state credentials to insurance to sector credentials, the contractor should be ready to easily share this information with you, or it will be on their website.
5. Ask if they are subcontracting
The best roofing contractors rely on a trusted team of roofers that work for them full time. The ones who look to cut costs will subcontract their labor to roofers that might not have much experience, which is a risky proposition.
6. Find out how long they have been in business
The longer a contractor has been in business, the more likely they are to do a quality job. Not only do they have more experience, they also will be less likely to make errors that could result in diminished roof performance.
7. Ask about roofing materials and the type they are experienced with
Don’t hire a roofing contractor that uses inferior roofing materials. While it might save you on costs in the short term, these materials don’t last and that could compromise your home’s interiors. Your contractor should also have plenty of experience with the materials they’re using on your project.
8. Ask about workmanship warranty
Quality roofing contractors will warranty their workmanship. They’ve got enough experience behind them to know that the job they do will stand the test of time, yet they know customers feel more confident about the project when the workmanship comes with a warranty.
9. Find out about permits
Roofing projects require permits, and the costs will differ depending on where you live and the size of the project. Make sure your roofing contractor is aware of the laws governing home improvement projects in your neighborhood.
10. Ask about complaints
Your roofing contractor should divulge complaints they’ve had, why they got them and how they were settled. If your research pulls up complaints they don’t address, be sure to jog their memory and get a response from them about what happened.
11. Ask about cleanup
Roofing projects are messy business. Quality roofing contractors go to great lengths to protect areas around the house, including landscaping. The cleanup process should be as thorough as their approach to putting a roof on your home.
12. Ask about financing opportunities
Getting a new roof now and paying for it over time is a common approach for many property owners. Ask about financing rates and what your options are if you would rather finance than pay for it outright. Be sure to compare and contrast the financing options offered through different contractors.
13. Look at the contractor’s portfolio
A portfolio is important to the vetting process. It should include customer statements and visual evidence of previous projects, from maintenance to repairs, replacements to gutter and downspout work.
14. Visit a jobsite
If you really want to know what a contractor is capable of, visit one of their job sites. You can get an idea of how their roofers treat the property, if the quality is really there and if their approach will be a good fit with your project.
15. Is the roofing contractor’s service area compatible
Hiring a local roofing contractor means less travel time and faster replacement. There are many advantages to hiring local, but being able to hit the timeline is important for most homeowners.
Never go into a roofing project blind. Know all your options and ask the right questions. Doing so will ensure you’ve got a quality roofing contractor on your side. If you have a checkmark by each of the above items, you’re well on your way to making an informed decision.
The advantages of hiring a local roofing contractor for your home in DuPage County
Thinking about hiring a local roofing contractor? It’s a solid move for many reasons, not the least of which is that the people doing the work live and play in the same area as you and they take pride in their community. You’ll also have no shortage of examples of their work to check out before you make the final decision on hiring them, and they’re more likely to fit you into their schedule because you’re local.
Not only do local roofing contractors have knowledge about building codes, regulations and local and state licensing and insurance requirements, but they also have experience with the different types of architecture in the area. Furthermore, they have first-hand experience in regard to the climate and different weather extremes. Finally, they have a track record of the type of business practices they offer, as well as their fiscal responsibility.
Choose a local roofing contractor and gain more access to personalized services. Doing work for people they live among comes with a greater sense of responsibility, accountability and a willingness to please.
Quick response Rather than having to drive for miles to get to and from a jobsite, local roofers can spend their time tending to your roofing needs, which means your project will be completed sooner. And, if something goes wrong with your roofing system, they can respond quickly.
When a roofing contractor has to spend money getting to a jobsite, those costs are going to be reflected in their estimate. Rather than pay for a long commute, go local and spare that expense.
You can check their work
One of the more important things to do before choosing a roofing contractor is to see their work with your own eyes. This can be a time-consuming task if the contractors you’re considering don’t do much work in your area. When you go with a local professional, there are plenty of jobsites to check out and evaluate.
Doing commerce locally supports your entire community, whether it’s a local grocer, healthcare professional, hardware store or roofing contractor. While it’s preferable to opt for a non-local contractor with a stellar reputation than a local one with no reputation, the best lists of potential contractors are stacked with local options.
Top 10 questions to ask a professional roofing company before you sign the contract
At VIS Exterior, we’ve come up with a list of questions that will help guide you as you search for the best possible roofing contractor. When you ask these 10 questions, you’re able to learn just about everything you need to know to make an informed decision.
Do you offer a free inspection?
You should get inspections and estimates from multiple roofing contractors, so don’t waste money on those that charge you to look at your property.
What types of roofing materials are you most experienced with?
Don’t choose a roofer that hasn’t worked on a property like yours that needs specific types of material that they aren’t familiar with. Your choice of contractor should be one that has years of experience and won’t risk installing materials incorrectly.
Do you have specialty training or certifications in installing a specific type of roofing material?
The best roofing contractors are certified to install a variety of materials, including specialty roofing supplies or materials from companies that will only honor a warranty if their products are installed by a certified roofer.
How long have you been installing roofing?
The amount of time differs per project, but the biggest factors are size and complexity. Simple and small roofs will take one day to replace, but larger and more complex roofs might take as long as three days to replace.
Who is responsible for debris and waste created by the project?
A quality roofing contractor makes cleaning up their mess part of the job. Rather than having to hire a separate contractor for cleanup, make sure yours takes care of the dumpsters and trash removal associated with the project.
How much will the project cost?
While you want the best deal possible, part of getting the “best deal” is a quality outcome. Roofing contractors who give low bids are likely cutting corners that will cost you in the long run.
What type of guarantee do you put on your work?
Most roofing products come with a warranty, which safeguards you should the material fail. However, make sure your contractor offers a warranty on their work. Mistakes happen, even with quality roofing contractors, so make sure you’re covered.
What are the other parts of your exterior they’ll be replacing?
Roofing systems can include a variety of different types of vents, skylight windows, flashing around chimneys, etc. Your roofer should know up front what extra work will be required to finish your project without unexpected costs.
What hours will you be working at my home?
Most contractors will start work around 8 a.m. and finish between 5 p.m. and 6 p.m. However, during days of extreme heat, they’ll pull their workers off the roof by 2 p.m. Make sure your contractor doesn’t start work at an unusually early hour that might disturb your neighbors.
Where can I find examples of your work?
Nothing offers more proof of a roofing contractor’s skills than seeing it in person. They should be excited to share addresses of the properties they’ve completed.
Don’t be afraid to ask all the questions you need to have answers to. The best quality roofing contractors will take the time to answer them because they’re excellent communicators and are customer-centric in everything they do.
Where to find the best roofing contractor near you
The Internet is a real gem when it comes to helping you narrow down the list of potential contractors to replace your roof. Used correctly, you can probably get the match you’re looking for by using the Internet alone, though it is recommended to get an estimate and talk to the contractor before making your final decision. From search engines to review websites to just hearing from your friends and family, there are numerous ways to find the best quality roofing contractors for your project.
Search engines (Google/Bing/Yahoo!)
With the right keywords, such as “roofer near me” or “roofing contractor in (insert your town),” you can utilize the three most popular search engines to find contractors that stand out in your area. Due to search algorithms, the companies that you see toward the top are probably generating the most interest on the Web, which can be an indication of their high level of skill.
Aside from a roofing contractor’s own page where reviews/comments from satisfied customers are listed, look at independent sites, such as Yelp, NextDoor and Facebook, which is where you can find many objective opinions about the work roofing contractors are doing in your area.
Your friends, family and co-workers won’t lead you astray. Listen to what they have to say about their experiences with roofing contractors. Word-of-mouth referrals are something quality roofing contractors count on for generating business.
Investing time and energy in research really does pay off in the end. Doing a little legwork now means when you do hire a contractor, you can avoid the dreaded “did I make the right decision” regrets and rest assured that you’re well taken care of.
How to pick up a good roofer after a hailstorm damage
When a damaging storm tears through your area and you suspect your roof might be damaged, there are probably many, many property owners in your immediate vicinity thinking the exact same thing, so it’s important to contact your local roofing contractor immediately and schedule an inspection. There’s a good chance they’ll have looked at homes in your area and will have prior knowledge of how bad it actually might be on your roof.
Don’t fall for a “storm chaser’s” pressure tactics if one happens to ring your doorbell. Do your own research and call in a local roofing contractor with a good reputation. Trusted contractors will not go door to door trying to drum up business because their phones will already be ringing with property owners seeking inspections of their roofing systems.
How to spot a bad roofing contractor? Warning signs to watch out for
There are so many horror stories about a “contractor” swooping in on an unsuspecting property owner, pressuring them to sign a contract, demand a large down payment and disappearing before the job is done. While those are the worst-case-scenarios, you also have to look for other red flags, like non-insured, non-local and poor communicating contractors.
Here are some red flags to watch out for when searching for a roof replacement contractor:
Roofers require large down payments
Dubious contractors are known for taking large down payments and not finishing the job. Respected contractors won’t ask for huge down payments and will even offer financing.
Roofers pressure you to sign a contract immediately
A seasoned roofing contractor knows their prospective clients are often stressed, and the contractor will do what they can to put their minds at ease. They’ll never pressure anyone into hiring them. You should be allowed to take your time and compare estimates you get from different contractors.
Roofers aren’t busy
Roof replacement contractors are constantly working, so if you find one that is sitting idle, it’s probably because their reputation for shoddy workmanship prevents them from getting jobs.
Roofers lack good communication skills
Rarely will a project succeed when the property owner and contractor fail to effectively communicate. Many details must be sussed out before the project begins, and the lines of communication should be open throughout the course of the project.
Roofers mark up the roofing materials excessively
Quality roof replacement contractors will work hard to get you a discount on quality materials and they’ll never bilk you out of money by marking it up.
Roofers withhold information about subcontracting
Withholding information like this is often a sign of cutting costs, as the labor is often inexperienced, therefore, cheap.
Roofers don’t have client reviews
Nothing says “we don’t have experience” like an absence of reviews. Only choose a roofer with many positive reviews.
Roofers don’t have insurance coverage
All licensed roofers have insurance, which means if yours doesn’t, you’ve made the wrong choice. Insurance is a way to protect their business, but it also covers you should you decide to take them to court and collect damages.
Roofers aren’t a locally based company
Don’t risk having your project delayed because the contractor is not located near you. You might also be paying for the cost of their commute to your property, which is another expense you don’t get with a local roofing contractor.
The more you research the best roofing contractors, the better sense you’re going to have about which ones are legit and which ones do not have your best interests at heart. You need to have peace of mind that the one you choose is going to be a customer-centric contractor that won’t leave you second-guessing your decision. If you come across one where too many red flags pop up, move on.
Looking for a local roofing contractor you can trust?
At VIS Exterior, communication is important. For example, we won’t begin a project until we know exactly what our customer wants, and that’s part of the reason we haven’t had an unhappy customer in more than 15 years of service. We never make promises we can’t keep and we have a stellar track record of finishing our project on time.
We use the most reliable, high-quality and cost-efficient roofing materials on all of our projects. But without a trusted team of roofing experts to install them, the projects wouldn’t succeed. That’s why we hire dedicated professionals that have proven they can live up to the standards we set.
There are many local roofing contractors out there and we encourage you to look around and compare costs and the quality of the work. You’ll find that we’re offering premium services at a competitive price. Also, be sure to check in with our customers and get a first-hand account of their experience. Contact us today and let’s talk about your upcoming project.