Roofing is one of those things you don’t ever think about until you’ve got water leaking down the bedroom wall and over the head board. And if that’s the first time you’ve discovered a leak, you’ve got no time to waste. Ceilings and walls don’t start to show water damage until they have been saturated and that means the leak in the roof could have started months ago.
Unfortunately, the consumer that has shifted into emergency mode is often the one most taken advantage of. There are several things you need to know about your contractor before you make the decision to allow him (them) up on your roof .
Are they insured?
If you don’t ask this basic question and get proof from the contractor, you could be liable for any injuries that may befall the contractor when he is on your property. To add insult to injury, the roofing contractor that would put his workers up on your roof without insurance is the same contractor that would probably ignore most safety requirements. All of that cost money and perhaps the one thing you did ask is: "How much will the repair cost?" If that’s your only criteria for making a decision, you could be in trouble.
Is the roofing contractor you’re considering bonded and licensed?
Again, in emergency mode, this is an often overlooked question. Being licensed and bonded lends to the credibility of the company you are dealing with. Licensed generally means the company has passed certain levels of training required to execute their jobs effectively and correctly. To become licensed, contractors must pass competency tests showing an understanding of the business, the laws and regulations. They also must have a clean criminal record. Bonding is the contractors safeguard against poor workmanship, theft and damage. Licensend roofers aren’t necessarily bonded – you need proof of both!
Licensed and Bonded doesn’t guarantee good work! References!
Your due diligence for finding references should start online. If you ask a contractor for references, you are likely to get some very good ones. It’s entirely possible that they could be relatives or friends! Anybody can make up a reference. If you can’t find references both good and bad for a particular contractor, it’s time to move on. The web is a wonderful resource for references. Check the client’s own website, Angie’s List, BBB and even Google MAPS or Google Places. Be aware that a unhappy client is nine times more likely to post a review than a happy one! So don’t base your decision completely on the presence of a negative review. Try to read the review from the contractors perspective and see if you can see both sides.
Who works for your contractor?
Who’s actually up on the roof? Are they even U.S. Citizens? This is a legitimate question! Don’t be afraid to ask. If the price you’re getting is significantly below local, reputable contractors, you may be dealing with a contractor who is paying employees less than minimum wage. Typically, the only way that happens is when the employees can’t report it. An worker who can’t complain about or report that his salary is below the legal wage is likely not a legal citizen. A roofing contractor willing to risk this would not be above faking license and bonding documents. You have to use your best judgement here but clearly if the people on your roof can’t speak English, it should at least raise an eyebrow. It’s entirely possible that they are legit, but you have the right to ask pointed questions. It’s your property and your pocketbook.
Avoid Panic Mode and Make A Sound Decision.
You can avoid a panic situation by getting your roof inspected by a reputable roofing contractor periodically. That would help you avoid panic mode. Many excellent roofing companies will inspect your property without charge you for it. Further, you should consider inspections after major weather that involves high winds and hail. Insurance companies only give you so much time after this type of damage occurs to make your claim. If you do find yourself in emergency mode, don’t panic. Call a reputable roofing company to get an estimate. Follow the guidelines above. Very often the worst damage or leak can be covered by temporary measures while you do your due diligence. Then, slow down, do your research and find the company you feel comfortable with. Do not base your decision on lowest price without references. Understanding the budget requirements begins with an estimate. Most reputable contractors will inspect your property for free and help you understand the damage issues and the budget requirements. Once you have that information, you are free to shop contractors. You are not obligated to buy from the contractor that does the inspection. That said, it’s a great way to get to know whether or not it’s a company you want to work with. So find a contractor with decent references (a bad reference or two should not prevent you from a choice of a contractor who has overwhelmingly received good reviews). In addition, make sure the contractor is licensed and bonded and can clearly define your needs and requirements before you make any decisions..