Wouldn’t it be nice if your roof contractor could read your mind? You could just wave your hand and say, “Go do your thing! Put a new roof on there. I’ll be inside watching Game of Thrones.” This might work…if you don’t mind your roof looking like a piece of modern art.
As with most relationships, communication with your roof contractor is key. I’m not talking about micromanaging, but the more guidance you can give your roofing company beforehand, the better idea they’ll have about what you want. In turn, give them a chance to explain your options, the best materials for your climate, and what is and isn’t doable. Making sure you’re all on the same page will make the process a whole lot easier for both parties.
Questions during the bidding/estimating process are essential. It’s tempting to just go for the cheapest offer…but not all bids are created equal. The Better Business Bureau warns, “Many fly-by-night contractors’ below-cost bids seem attractive, but these contractors often are uninsured and perform substandard work or use substandard materials.”
As you can see, questions not only set realistic expectations, but they protect you from unscrupulous roofing contractors. Good roof contractors won’t be annoyed with your questions; they’ll be happy to prove they’re on the up-and-up. Here’s what you need to ask.
After you get at least three bids from various contractors, carefully review them to make sure the bid or estimate explains what materials the contractor will use. Specifically, you can ask, “What type of metal will you use in valleys and flashings — galvanized steel? Lead pipe? Plastic?” (Hopefully not plastic.) Before you go with a cheap bid, make sure you won’t be sacrificing quality. It’ll come in handy during the next big storm.
2. Roofing License
“Are you licensed?” is a slippery question, because having a business license is different from being a licensed roof contractor. A business license just means the person has registered for tax purposes, not that they’ve undergone training and passed Oregon’s two-hour test about roofing knowledge. Instead, ask, “Are you currently licensed with Oregon’s Construction Contractors Board (CCB)?” (You can also search online to see if your roofing contractor is currently licensed.) A good Oregon roofing contractor won’t be reluctant to prove he or she has the proper credentials.
Ask a potential roof contractor and any subcontractors, “What kind of insurance coverage do you have?” The right answer: worker’s compensation and liability insurance. The former means if anyone is injured on the job, you won’t be on the hook financially. Liability insurance protects you if your property is damaged during the roofing work.
What if the roofing job is subpar? That’s why you want a roof contractor who is bonded. If someone vanishes mid-job before your new shingles are up, or if the quality is abysmal, bonding protects you. So ask him or her, “Do you have a CCB surety bond?”
To get bonded, a roofing contractor pays into a recovery fund that is only used if the contractor violates your contract and the homeowner files a claim for unfinished, late, or low-quality work. Here is Oregon’s guide to required bond amounts, from $10,000 for a Residential Limited Contractor bond up to a $75,000 commercial bond. Thankfully, you probably won’t have to worry about using the bond — according to the CCB, “99% of licensed Oregon construction contractors take care of their customers’ service issues and pay their construction debts.”
Note that being bonded and insured is meaningless unless your contractor is licensed during your entire job. If you hire an unlicensed contractor, the CCB can’t help you if something goes wrong.
Before you autograph that contract, ask, “What type of warranties do you offer, and what do they cover?” Typically there are two: a warranty for the work and another warranty for materials, provided by the manufacturer. We at Fivecoat offer a 10-year workmanship warranty on all of our projects. A solid roofing contractor will stand by his or her work, not vanish without a trace the moment the job is done. (On a related note, make sure you have all contact information, including the contractor’s physical address, business name, and tax ID number, just in case you need to follow up.)
Overall, don’t feel like a pest for asking questions. Here at Fivecoat, we’re delighted to provide our credentials, explain materials, and provide a quote on your roof repair or replacement. Call us at 503-537-0158 for a free estimate today!
Have you hired a roofing contractor before? How did it go?