Hiring a Quality Roofing Contractor

Replacing a roof can seem daunting, but it is not nearly as problematic as some people make it seem.
We’ve created this short guide to help you navigate your next roof repair or replacement.

Roof Age and Condition
Weather, namely the sun, heat and UV light are the leading factors in aging and causing roof damage. This is especially true in Milwaukee’s climate. Knowing the impact that both factors have on a home contractors have found the average life span for a roof is 20 years. If your roof is approaching this milestone, it is wise to have it professionally inspected to head off any unwanted household damage. A hot attic, poorly ventilated and/or the roof sheathing being insulated will bake out the roofing material and shorten the useful life.

Choosing a Contractor
The contractor will provide you with an estimate of the cost of repairing or replacing your roof, which will vary based on the size of the roof, height of the house and timeframe of the project.

Depending on the contractors recommendations, you will be advised to either roof over the existing shingles or tear the roof down to the wood and install a completely new roof. Roof Over is often recommended to homeowners that only have one, flat existing root. When multiple layers already exist or if the damage is so severe, the only approved option would be stripping all shingles off and applying new shingles. Typically a warranty only applies a single layer.

  • Get a full name and street address.
  • Check on insurance: comprehensive liability and workers’ compensation. Ask for a certificate of insurance.
  • Google if the contractor licensed by the state or the local municipality if required?
  • How long has the company been in business?
  • Ask for references from local jobs. Take the time to call a few references and ask about appearance, cost, quality, promptness, cleanup, and problems.
  • Ask about a performance guarantee, and verify on Yelp.
  • Will the contractor walk the roof and inspect the attic when preparing the quote to give an accurate quote and address existing conditions?
  • Will the contractor provide on-site supervision during the job and complete a walk-through with you before final payment?
  • How will the contractor protect your property during the project?
  • The contractor should be a member of a professional group of builders or remodeling contractors.

The Contract
Before you hire a contractor be sure you understand the scope and details of the agreement or contract to ensure the work and your expectations will be properly met.

  • Material selections, described in detail; type of shingle and the specific name, color and manufacturer; valley, rake edge, and vent materials; and underlayment (tar paper) for the shingles. (The manufacturer’s installation instructions must be followed). And a statement that all materials will be installed per the manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Details on initial deposit and progress payments. The contractor may want a partial payment when the job is started or materials are delivered. Some contractors ask for a small down payment when the contract is signed. Final payment should be made after the job is completed and inspected. A contractor should never be paid before work is completed and should never be given a substantial down payment.
  • Construction start and finish date.
  • Lien waiver requirements. When bills are submitted, the contractor should submit a form that removes the ability of the contractor and suppliers to place a lien on your property.
  • Specifications on the following: Will the shingles be removed? How will the home be protected from damage and debris? Site clean up
  • Information on how any damage to your property or your neighbors’ property will be handled.
  • Details on how your property will be protected if weather problems develop during the project.
  • Delivery and on site storage of materials does not constitute start of work.Specifications on how materials will be delivered and stored.
  • Add a clause stating that deviations from the contract require a written change order before the work is done.
  • A description of insurance covering the job. The contract should also state that you will receive a certificate of insurance before work begins.
  • Description of building permit requirements and a statement that the contractor will obtain the permit, pay for it, and ensure that a final inspection is completed.
  • Are subcontractors are to be used?
  • Warranties and guarantees from the contractor and the material manufacturer.

Final Words of Advice
Repairing a roof is no easy feat. Be patient, friendly, and openly communicate with your contractor to establish construction milestones. This will expedite the project and help make the process go more smoothly.

Do you have a question regarding your existing or future home? Contact Milwaukee’s top home inspector today!