A roofer installing shingles on a residential home.

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Choosing a Roofing Contractor


Important Considerations

Contact three roofing contractors. Treat this step just as you would if hiring a new employee. Making a bad decision regarding which contractor to hire will be very painful. Give yourself the best opportunity to make a good decision here by including several candidates before moving to step 2.

Verify that the roofing contractor you hire has the required applicable business licenses for your state or local area.

If you are unsure of the business licenses required for roofing contractors in your area, contact the licensing board or Department of Professional Regulation for your area or state.

Verify that the roofing contractor or business is legitimate by asking for their tax identification number, a business address, business website or email address, and contact phone number.

Ask the roofing contractor to provide you with proof of insurance, including worker's compensation and liability coverage.

Not all areas or states require roofing contractors to have insurance, but you may want to hire a person with insurance to protect yourself from lawsuits if the contractor is injured while working on your property.

Check with the contractor to verify that the insurance covers the entire time-span during which the roofing project takes place.

Ask your roofing contractor for proof that shows they have been approved by the roofing manufacturer to install or work on the roof you have chosen.

Information to ask for should include the length of the project, daily start and end times, roofing materials to be used, safety procedures, the amount of payment and payment schedule, and clean-up methods.

Do not hire roofing contractors based solely on the lowest pricing bids because they may not provide the same value as contractors with slightly higher pricing.

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Roofing Contractor Must-Haves


Insurance Is a MUST

Make sure that your contractor has worker’s compensation and liability insurance. Ask to see the certificates and actually call the insurance carrier to confirm that they are valid.

Choose a Local Contractor

Make sure that the company that you choose is local. This means that they are not just operating locally now, but have an established business and reputation in the community. 

Price Isn't Everything

Never choose a company based on price. Cheap bids drive down the market and anyone with overhead and proper insurance has to establish pricing to cover such costs.

Avoid Storm Chasers

Steer clear of the knock-on-the-door, “We were in your neighborhood” roofers. This is just canvassing and selling. Pick a roofer from a referral or a sign in your area that has a satisfied client on the other end.

Get Job Details in Writing

Both belong to you and you should be in control. We suggest that you don’t give funds until the work is complete. Make sure that you are satisfied with the result and that the terms of payment were discussed prior to the job and adhered to by both parties.

Communication is Crucial

Did they return your calls? Did they send the documentation that you asked them to send? Did they follow through? If you answered “no” to these questions, then make sure you communicate your concerns to the company representative.

Workmanship

The best assurance that your new roof will not leak and that it will have a long life is to select a quality shingle product and to be certain that the shingles are installed absolutely correctly - good workmanship is what makes a roof shed water.

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Selecting the Right Roofing Material


Asphalt Shingles

The most common residential roofing material used in the United States, asphalt shingles are popular because they are economical and easy to install. These shingles can be reinforced with fiberglass or organic materials (cellulose) without changing the appearance of the shingle.

Pros: Asphalt comes in a variety of colors, is widely available and is one of the least expensive materials.

Cons: Asphalt has a shorter life span than other roofing materials, doesn't provide the insulation other materials offer, and the quality varies.

House Styles: Asphalt shingles work with many architectural styles, especially traditional suburban styles.

Cost and Life Span: Prices range from $70 to $120 a square and, if maintained properly, shingles will last 20 to 25 years.

Clay & Concrete Tiles

Clay and concrete tiles add texture and elegance to a roof. Genuine flat, ribbed or scalloped clay tiles are extremely durable but also very heavy, and must be installed by a professional. Concrete tiles are versatile and are less expensive than genuine clay, but also have a heavy weight.

Pros: Clay and concrete tiles are long-lasting and non-combustible, and concrete tiles are energy efficient.

Cons: Clay and concrete tiles are expensive, heavy and usually require additional framing.

House Styles: Clay and concrete tiles work well with Mediterranean, Mission, Southwestern and Spanish-style homes.

Cost and Life Span: Prices start around $300 to $500 a square and, if maintained properly, tiles will last around 40 to 50 years.

Metal Roofing

Metal roofs are resistant to extreme weather conditions. Available in two types, panels and shingles, metal roofs come in aluminum, copper, stainless steel and zinc.

They're sleek, lightweight, long-lasting and recyclable, and something to consider if you're interested in rainwater harvesting, says architect Amy A. Alper.

Pros: Metal roofing is durable, lasts longer than asphalt or wood, and offers high solar reflectance.

Cons: Metal roofing is relatively expensive.

House Styles: Metal looks great on bungalows, cabins, contemporary and cottage-style homes.

Cost and Life Span: Prices usually start around $100 to $300 a square, but some styles can cost $600 to $800 a square. Metal roofing can last 40 to 75 years.

Slate

Offering lots of beauty and a distinctive elegant appearance, slate colors include shades of black, green, grey, red and purple.

Pros: Slate is very durable, fire-resistant and a sustainable roof that can be recycled.

Cons: Slate is expensive, heavy, and requires extra framing and professional installation. The quality can vary with imported slate.

House Styles: Slate works well with Colonial, European and French chateau homes.

Cost and Life Span: Prices start at about $600 a square and up. Slate can last more than 50 years and sometimes 100 years or more.

Avoid Storm Chasers

Steer clear of the knock-on-the-door, “We were in your neighborhood” roofers. This is just canvassing and selling. Pick a roofer from a referral or a sign in your area that has a satisfied client on the other end.

Wood Shingles & Shake

The go-to roofing choice for hundreds of years, many homeowners love the look of wood shingles and shakes and how they weather to an attractive shade of gray. Wood shakes are handmade and rougher-looking than wood shingles, which are usually cut by machine.

If you live in a fire-prone area, look for Class A fire-rated wood roofing products that include shingles treated with a fire-resistant coating.

Pros: Wood shingles offer a rustic look and are a natural product usually made from cedar, redwood and southern pine.

Cons: Fire codes in some areas prohibit use. Wood shingles can be a concern in wet climates, and can mold, split or rot.

House Styles: Shake's rustic aesthetic pairs well with bungalow, Cape Cod, cottage, Craftsman and Tudor-style homes.

Cost and Life Span: Prices start at around $100 to $150 a square and will last around 25 to 30 years.

Synthetic Roofing Materials

There are now synthetic roofing products, including rubber, plastic and polymer roofing, developed to give you the color, look and texture of natural materials like slate and wood. These products are designed to be strong and easy to maintain. Some of these materials are fire-resistant.

Make sure to check with the manufacturer and inquire about warranty information. The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) suggests you look at full-size samples of the synthetic product and the manufacturers' brochures.

Look for installations that have been in place at least 10 years to see what the wear characteristics of that material are in your area, says Bollnow.

Pros: Synthetic roofing is often not as fragile, heavy or expensive as natural products.

Cons: Some of these products can absorb water and the quality varies. Newer products aren't as time-tested as traditional materials.

House Styles: Synthetic roofing products work with different architectural styles.

Cost and Life Span: Prices start at about $300 a square, and are warrantied for up to 50 years.

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