Hiring a Roofer for Your Roof Replacement


by Marcus Pickett

Is it time to replace your roof? Are you feeling overwhelmed by the process of choosing both a new roof and a contractor for the job? Don't fret. Here are the steps you should take to ensure that you get the most cost-effective roofing for your budget as well as the most reliable roofer in your area.

1. Research Roofing and Local Roofers

Too many homeowners immediately start calling roofers without the least idea of the choices involved or what to look for in a roofing company. Some homeowners even cold-call roofers from the phone book. You need to start your roofing project by familiarizing yourself with basic roofing considerations. You don't need to become a certified roofer. What you should do is make a list of informed questions to ask prospective roofing contractors. Asking the questions below will help you learn which roof is best for your home and will also help you to identify contractors with whom you can easily communicate.

Part of your research should also focus on the pros and cons for various roofing systems, such as composite roofing, metal roofing, and tile roofing. To read more about types of roofing systems, read this article about Roofing System Types. Finally, look for useful details, tips, and common problems associated with residential roofing. Know how attic ventilation helps prevent ice dams. Know that metal sheet roofing is easier and cheaper to install, but is also more vulnerable to thermal shock than metal tile roofing. You should also find out everything you can about your old roof. When was it installed? What type of roofing surface, pitch, ventilation, and insulation does it have? Knowledge is power.

Initial Questions to Ask Local Roofers

  • What roofing systems work well in our local climate? Why?
  • What roofing system would you choose for your home? Why?
  • Which roofing systems have the greatest potential to save money on monthly utility bills without huge installation costs?
  • What are some of the latest roofing innovations? Do you think these new products are trustworthy over the long run?
  • How many roofs have you installed in this area in the last two years? Can you point these houses out to me?

2. Solicit Estimates

These are just a few of the possible questions you might ask roofers during preliminary phone conversations or face-to-face when you are soliciting estimates. By the time you solicit estimates, you should have a pretty good idea of the kind of new roof you want. This way, you can make an apples-to-apples comparison of different estimates. Conventional wisdom suggests that you get at least three estimates.

Guidelines for Soliciting and Reviewing Estimates

  • Be wary of estimates that are significantly higher or lower than the rest. Go back and ask questions to determine the cause of this discrepancy.
  • Don't assume that the lowest bid offers inferior quality or that the highest bid means superior quality. If you can't identify which contractors are offering the best overall value, you need to do more research, talk to more previous customers, and ask more questions.
  • This is your last chance to change your mind. Don't be afraid to solicit more estimates for different roofing systems.

3. Choose a Contractor, Sign a Service Contract

Once you've had a chance to talk to each of your prospective roofers, it's time to review the estimates and sign a service contract. Sometimes the right answer will jump out at you - one contractor in particular seemed to share your roofing vision, philosophy, and budgetary constraints. Often, two contractors seem to make comparable offers with impeccable credentials. In this case, you may need to take a second look and split hairs. Just don't underestimate the importance communication; finding a contractor who is easy to communicate with is valuable in the long run. And don't just read, but make sure you clearly understand the implications of the service contract.

Items a Service Contract Should Address

  • The length and terms of the labor warranty. Roofing manufacturers generally include product warranties, but these warranties may not mean much if problems result from the installation. A typical labor warranty may last two years, but you should make sure the product warranty will remain valid after the labor warranty has expired.
  • A payment schedule. Never pay for the entire project upfront. Generally speaking, payment should occur in installments and parallel the work as it is being completed. A new roof can cost anywhere from $3,000 to more than $30,000.
  • A timeline. Weather permitting, the service contract should lay out a schedule for the project. In particular, make sure the roofer is responsible for any damage that occurs during the project. A reputable company should have means to protect your home while the roof is being installed. The average time to complete a roof installation is one week for asphalt shingles and two weeks for more high-end roofing.

-- Marcus Pickett is a senior home improvement writer with ServiceMagic.com. He has written more than 1200 articles on managing your home and home improvement trends.