How to Hire A Roofing Contractor
Hiring a roofer in Worcester
After you have examined the condition of your roof and you decide that you do not want to do the work yourself, take the time to select a qualified contractor. A general contractor or contractor is someone you independently hire to do work on your home; a subcontractor is hired by the general contractor or contractor and should be covered by the general contractor’s or contractor’s insurance policies.
Generally, misunderstandings and disputes most frequently arise between contractors and homeowners regarding details not discussed before a contract is signed. Here is a checklist of topics to discuss with the salesperson before you sign a contract for roofing work on your home:
- Free written estimate detailing the contractor’s cost to the home owner for specific work.
- Homeowner’s payment provisions following final inspection.
- Consider specifying that the final payment to the contractor be dependent on your receipt of a release of mechanic’s lien from all suppliers and subcontractors.
- How unforeseen expenses will be handled, such as repairs to broken sheathing discovered during tear-off work. Have such costs been included in the estimate?
- Authorization and payment for allowable change orders to the contracted work. Examples include substituting the brand, style, or weight of shingles and estimating the amount of materials needed
- Obtaining and paying for a building permit from the local government.
- Setting the target dates for starting and completing the work and any provisions for acceptable delays.
- A list, as part of the proposal and final contract, of all materials to be used, including brand, style, weight, color of roofing and any items such as replacement sheathing, skylights, ventilators, and fasteners (staples or nails), and flashing.
- A list of the contractor’s previous customers who will allow you to see finished work or work in progress.
- Copy of proof of liability insurance.
- Copy of proof of workers’ compensation insurance.
- Is the contractor a bonded contractor with insurance for major liabilities?
- Contractor’s warranty on home improvement work.
- Roofing material manufacturer’s product warranty and registration form.
Local, County, and State Government
- Compliance with building codes and work permits.
- Compliance with local, county, and state business-license requirements.
- Does your state have a “recovery fund” designed to cover losses to homeowners for damages caused by failure of a licensed contractor to adequately improve the property?
Access to the Job Site
- Contact persons and telephone numbers for each party (homeowner and contractor) to advise of potential and actual schedule changes.
- Job-site access, if necessary, to electricity for contractor’s power saws or electric nailers.
- Job-site access by material suppliers, and the contractor name and telephone number for the supplier’s dispatcher.
- How recycling or disposing of debris will be handled, particularly for tear-off jobs.
- The type of job-site protection afforded: tarps for driveways, shrubs flower beds, etc., particularly for tear-off jobs.
- How debris from gutters will be cleaned.
- How the final cleanup of the job-site will be handled.
- Does the contractor employ an inspector to review the work progress?
- How the final inspection of the work will be handled.
- Provisions for follow-up or callback procedures for correction potential work deficiencies should be included.
The National Roofing Contractors Association, the National Association of the Remodeling Industry, and other experts suggest that you start your search for a contractor using the following guidelines
- Ask neighbors, friends, and relatives for the names of recommended companies. Any prospective contractor or remodeler should be willing to supply references from jobs underway or work recently completed.
- Ensure that the contractor has a permanent business address and telephone. Avoid fly-by-night contractors by checking with your local Better Business Bureau to determine if there is a history of dissatisfied customers associated with a potential contractor. With the correct company name, the name of the owner, and the contractor’s license number, your state contractor’s license board, registrar of contractors, or bureau of consumer affairs should be able to supply you with information on adjudicated cases against contractors or the complaint records of contractors. You should be able to find out if a potential contractor’s license is in good standing, is on probation, has been suspended, or has been revoked.
- Invite three or four companies you have researched to provide estimates for the work you want done. Legitimate contractors provide free estimates to homeowners.
- So that bids are accurate, be certain to have each salesperson bid on the same specifications, completion time, and materials. If three of four bids are similar in cost and the fourth is much lower, be very cautious of the low bid. “Low-ball” contractors often operate without insurance or skimp on materials, equipment, labor, or effort to keep prices down. On the other hand, new companies might bid low to attract customers.
- Avoid contractors who want more than a 10 percent partial payment before starting the work. Established companies require no up-front payments from homeowners. Smaller companies might need a limited advance to cover the cost of purchasing materials.
- Ask to see copies of the contractor’s liability insurance, workers’ compensation insurance, or (for an individual moonlighting odd jobs) personal disability insurance. Some states exempt liability or workers’ compensation insurance requirements for sole proprietors and contractors with fewer than three or five employees. Some insurance experts advise that homeowners contact the contractor’s insurance company to confirm that a policy is valid. Most insurers will send a copy of an insurance certificate to a customer if the contractor makes the request.
- Ask to see state, county, and local roofing contractor licenses. Contractor licensing requirements vary considerably throughout the country. To obtain a license, a contractor might be required to pass a business management test and perhaps a trade test. Many license application classifications require listing a specific length of experience as well as the contractor’s work history. Contracting without a license could result in a misdemeanor or, with repeated violations, a felony.
- Ensure that you have written warranties on materials and workmanship and that the contractor is bonded. Generally, a limited product warranty is provided for by the manufacturer of the roofing materials long as the materials are installed according to the manufacturer’s specifications. Warranties should be listed in your contract. Some states have a recovery fund financed by licensed residential contractors. Such funds are designed to cover losses to homeowners who have damages caused by failure of a licensed contractor to adequately improve the property.