What to Ask a Roofing Contractor

Stephen Vernon
April 3, 2023

Questions You Should Always Ask a Roofing Contract

  • Do you have a license?
  • Are you local?
  • Do you have workman's comp and general liability insurance?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • Do you have a portfolio of your past work?
  • Will my project need a building permit?
  • Do you use roofing subcontractors?
  • Are you bonded?
  • What's the warranty on my roof?
  • Will I get a written estimate?

Finding a reputable roofing contractor doesn’t have to feel like you’re pulling teeth. It requires patience and research to find the one that can provide you with all of the services you’re looking for. You can cut that research time in half by asking a few critical questions about which roofing contractors are reputable and which ones you should skip over. Here’s what to ask a roofing contractor before you hire them.

Do You Have A License?

There’s a reason that you should avoid a deal if it seems too good to be true. That’s because it is, and you can get scammed in the process. It’s important that when asking for a roof replacement estimate, you know whether the contractor has a license or not first. A licensed contractor has undergone the necessary training to ensure that their work is up to code and safe. They’re willing to be open about their licenses and show them to you when you ask. An unlicensed contractor only cares about the money and will leave you in a dangerous environment; there’s no guarantee that they’ll finish the job either.

Are You Local?

There’s no point in looking at roofing contractors outside your area. They will likely charge extra to cover their gas costs and the transportation of materials if they aren’t local. A local contractor is more likely to know about the ordinances in the area. That way, they know how to do their work up to code.

Do You Have Workman’s Comp and General Liability Insurance?

When learning what to ask a roofing contractor, it’s essential to know whether they have general liability insurance and workman’s compensation attached to their services. Because if they don’t, any injuries that occur while working on your roof might become your responsibility. Roofing is dangerous work, and general liability insurance will cover any damages to your home during the roofing process. Any roofing contractor who doesn’t have either of these isn’t someone you should consider working on your roof.

How Long Have You Been in Business?

Do you want to go with a new business that has just opened but doesn’t have a set reputation yet, or do you want to go with a longstanding company with a few jobs under its belts? You might want to go with the latter as a matter of precaution. Some roofing contractors will open and then close quickly in order to get rid of a bad reputation that has been following them around. In general, the longer a business has been in continuous operation, the more likely it will have the quality of work you’re looking for. A longer-running company tends also to have more reviews that you can find online to determine for yourself whether their reputation is good or not.

Do You Have a Portfolio of Your Past Work?  

This is a crucial question that you should keep at the forefront of your considerations when looking for a roof replacement estimate. A reliable contractor is more likely to have a portfolio for you to look through so that you can see examples of what their work is like. A contractor who isn’t proud to show off his work is probably hiding it for a very good reason.The photo above represents a smattering of jobs completed by Cenvar Roofing. As an Owen's Corning Platinum Preferred Contractor, Cenvar Roofing's customers receive an independent survey from OC verifying that the work and service is up to Owen's Corning's standards. Other OC Platinum contractors will have a similar tool to track past jobs.

Will My Project Need a Building Permit?

When home improvement projects are taking place, it’s essential to know whether a permit is required to make such improvements. This is a question you should ask your roofing contractor, as he would be more familiar with whatever ordinances or laws exist in your area or at least have access to the answers to those questions. A failure to get a permit means you’ll be facing down the local authorities and will likely have to scrap your roofing project.

Do You Use Roofing Subcontractors?

When knowing what to ask a roofing contractor, it’s important to understand whether they subcontract their work from the beginning. Many roofing contractors use subcontracts. These subcontractors generally will hop from company to company depending on pay and the amount of work there is. At Cenvar Roofing, we require high standards for our crews and inspect their work to ensure high quality and those manufacturer guidelines are followed. Some roofing contractors have in-house crews. This is a great question to determine how your work would be done.

Are You Bonded?

This question involves whether a roofing contractor has a surety bond or not. A surety bond protects you from any mishaps that take place at the fault of the contractor. For example, you’ll be covered if the roofer fails to complete the work they were contracted to do. A surety bond can also cover the cost of a permit if the roofer fails to get one or any damages before liability insurance kicks in.

What’s The Warranty On My Roof?

When getting a roof replacement estimate, you must know how long your roof will last. The same goes if you’re getting your roof repaired; it shouldn’t be a hack job that will only last a year. Asking what the warranty is will provide you with redress if something happens to the roof and it becomes damaged or leaks. You'll also want to ask about the workmanship warranty. A standard workmanship warranty is around ten years.

Will I Get a Written Estimate?

Lastly, one of the more critical questions to ask when getting a roof estimate is whether it will be in written form. Many people believe that word of mouth is enough, but that will leave you in a world of trouble if you can’t remember what price you both agreed to. Everything should be in writing, and if possible, try and get an itemized estimate so that you know exactly what you’re paying for.Knowing what to ask a roofing contractor before hiring will help you weed out the not-so-reputable ones from those you can rely on. Call and get a free estimate if you’re looking to repair or replace your roof. Don't forget, choosing a roofer isn't like choosing a restaurant.

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