Decisions That Can Be a Nightmare – How to Choose a Roofing Contractor!


There are numerous ways to begin your search. However, you do not want this search to consume your life. I recommend you go online and research local roofing contractors. For example, log in to Google and search “roofing contractor, any-town, any-state”. Referrals are often a reliable source. I would ask family, friends, neighbors and colleagues for any suggestions, recommendations or contractor’s they have used in the past and would recommend. You should also check with your local Better Business Bureau, state and local licensing authorities. You can also call around to local building supply companies. However, I would be cautious if using this approach. Keep in mind the contractor is purchasing from the supplier. Most business-people do not want to “Bite The Hand That Feeds Them”. Therefore, the supplier may give them a good review in attempt to gain or retain their business.

You can check with your local Chamber of Commerce to see which roofing contractor’s are involved in the community. You can also visit websites such as Angie’s List. The majority of this information can be obtained via the Internet.

Step 2. HOW TO FIND A ROOFING CONTRACTOR – Gather Information

Now it time to thoroughly investigate your list of potential roofing contractor’s. You need to do this with every single roofing contractor prior to inviting them into your home. Remember, you are exposing your most valuable possessions to a complete stranger. Call the roofing contractor and introduce yourself and state what your intentions are. For example: Hi, this is Joe and Suzy Homeowner, and we are interested in having your company look at some roofing issues we are having. However, we would like some basic information about the company before we hire a roofing contractor. Upon receiving this information. Simply tell them that you will call them back to schedule an appointment. If they cannot provide you with the information you requested then simply call another roofing contractor who can.

Information to Obtain:

Business information: Obtain the complete legal business name. A corporation will have a legal name and a doing business as name. For example, XYZ Roofing Contractor doing business as XYZ Roofing and Construction. Obtain the business address (physical and mailing), office telephone number, toll-free phone number and cell phone number(when available), the business fax number and email address. Ask who the owner/owner’s are.

Licensing: What is their state licensing number? What is their local licensing number?

Bonding: Have they been bonded in the past? Have they successfully completed all jobs that have been bonded? Who is their bonding agency and what is their phone number?

Insurance: Who is their General Liability Insurance carrier? Who is their Worker’s Compensation Insurance carrier? Obtain their insurance agent name and phone number. Also ask for their policy number.

References: Get at least three references. Also ask for some properties that you can ride by to view their work.

Website: What is their web address?

Credit References: Can they provide you with a credit reference from their bank and/or supplier?

What is the date their business was established?

Warranties: Can they provide you with a sample of their warranty?

Maintenance Program: Do they provide one? Can they provide you with some information about it?

Contracts: Do they use a standard proposal form? Is it detailed?

Training/Experience: What are their skills, qualifications, what type of work do they do, how long have they been doing this type of work? Ask this of the owner and the laborers.

Manufacturer’s/Approved Applicator: Most roof systems require special application expertise and certifications from the manufacturer.

I recommend requesting this all of the above mentioned items to be sent to you via fax, email or U.S. Postal service. Remember: A legitimate business will have no problem providing you with this information.


Verify all of the information they provided you is true and correct

Licensing: Call state and local authorities.

Permits: Also verify with local building authorities how many permits the contractor has pulled and have they successfully passed inspections.

Insurance: Call the insurance agent or insurance company to verify. What are their policy limits?

References: Call each reference.

Website: What do you think of their website? Is it professional? Do they have photos of jobs completed?

Credit References: Call and verify

What is their rating with the Better Business Bureau and various websites such as Angie’s List?

Step 4. HOW TO FIND A ROOFING CONTRACTOR- Scheduling an Appointment

Now you have confirmed all the information you need time to schedule an appointment.

Do they offer free quotes? If not, what is their fee?

Did they answer their phone?

Did it go to voice mail? If so, how long did it take for them to return your call?

Was the office staff or person answering the call professional?

Did they answer your questions and schedule an appointment to your satisfaction?

Step 5. HOW TO FIND A ROOFING CONTRACTOR- Getting an Estimate

You have scheduled an appointment. Now ask yourself?

Did they arrive on time for their scheduled appointment?

Did they appear professional?

Were they knowledgeable?

Did they provide you with a detailed written estimate?

Did they take the time to thoroughly explain the process to you?

Did they tell you how soon they can start the job? Once started, how long will it take them to complete it?

Will they put it in writing that the crew that is working on your roof will not start another job until your roof is complete? For example, you do not want your roof to be started and a homeowner call your roofing contractor demanding that they start his/her job immediately. In attempt to not lose that demanding homeowner’s business the roofing contractor postpones your job for a later date.

Did they provide their warranty in writing?

Step 6. HOW TO FIND A ROOFING CONTRACTOR- Understanding the Estimate/Contract

Buyer Beware – Get everything in writing, do not accept a verbal agreement.

The contract also known as the estimate or proposal should contain the following information.

Products and Materials: what will be used, how many of each item will be used, what brand will they use, what colors

Start and Completion Dates: When will they start and when will they finish the total job? What is their plan for weather delays? How will they protect your home?

Work Hours: What time do they start and what time will they finish each day?

Site Preparation: How will they protect plants, shrubbery and lawns, How will they clean up the roofing debris?

Warranties: What is the manufacturer and workmanship warranty?

Payment: What are the terms of payment? Do they provide a lien waiver upon receiving payment in full?

Right to Rescind: What is your right to cancel the contract? It is typically three days from the date the contract was signed.

Step 7. HOW TO FIND A ROOFING CONTRACTOR- Additional Vital Information

Be skeptical of the lowest bid. That is usually an indicator that the roofing contractor is cutting corners somewhere. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is!

Hire local. Where will the out-of-town contractor be in the event you have a leak?

Make sure the material they delivered is what is specified on your contract. For example, a roofing contractor can tell you they are installing 30 year shingles while in-fact they are cutting corners by installing 25 year shingles or the supplier could have delivered the wrong material.

Be cautious of roofing contractors that use of P.O. Boxes and cell phones. Most legitimate businesses will have a local mailing address and local phone number. Work out of the back of their pick up trucks.

Liens – Require the contractor to inform you of the supplier of the roofing materials and if they are sub-contracting their work out. They supplier and the subcontractor can file a lien on your property if the roofing contractor neglects to pay them. To ensure the supplier is paid in full you can ask your roofing contractor for a receipt or you can pay the supplier directly for the roofing materials. You can also have the roofing contractor and subcontractor to provide you with a final release of lien and lien waiver.

Know what is expected of you as the homeowner? Do you need to move vehicles to allow access to the roof? Do you need to protect valuables inside the home?