In 1961, America's first astronaut, Alan Shepard, was asked what
thoughts ran through his mind as he waited for the countdown that
would send him into space. "I just looked around me, remembering that
everything in the capsule was supplied by the lowest bidder" he
Buying a new roof system is an important investment. Before you spend
your money, spend some time learning how to evaluate the roofing
contractor who may be doing the work. Roofing contractors are not all
alike; insist on working with a professional.
Why a professional roofing contractor? A professional
generally is recognized as a person who has hands-on experience,
specialized knowledge and received intensive training.
So how can you tell a qualified contractor from an unqualified one?
There are no foolproof methods, but there are some important things
that you can do to help make the best possible decision.
The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) recommends that
you prequalify contractors. It may require some extra work, but
experience shows that it goes a long way toward making sure you get
the kind of results you expect--a roof system that works!
You can prequalify contractors on a project-to-project or annual basis
if you regularly deal with the same group of contractors. Your
criteria may vary according to the job requirements, but all
professional roofing contractors should be able to provide you with
A permanent place of business
Confirm that your contractor is well-established with a permanent
address, telephone number, tax identification number and, where
required, a business license. A professional has these readily
Knowledge of roof systems
The introduction of new roofing materials and application techniques
has sparked a tremendous change in the roofing industry over the past
10 years. A professional roofing contractor is familiar with the
different types of roof systems and will help you make the best
decision for your building and budget. Be sure you are comfortable
with the roof system(s) your contractor suggests.
Affiliated with an industry organization
Ask the contractor if his company is a member of a local, state,
regional or national industry association. Involvement in a
professional organization tends to keep a contractor better informed
about the latest developments and issues in the industry.
Committed to education
Choose a company that is committed to the safety and education of its
workers. Ask the contractor what types of safety training he provides
for his workers and what industry programs the workers have attended.
The best roofing contractor is only as good as the workers who install
the roof system. Insist on having trained, experienced roof mechanics.
Insured and committed to safety
Don't hesitate to ask the roofing contractor for proof of insurance.
In fact, insist on seeing copies of insurance certificates that verify
workers' compensation and general liability coverages. Make sure the
coverages are in effect through the duration of your job. If a
contractor is not properly insured, you, the owner, may be liable for
accidents that occur on the property. Many building owners and
homeowners have been dragged into litigation involving uninsured
roofing contractors. (Note: U.S. workers' compensation laws vary by
state. Consult your state's laws to determine workers' compensation
Licensed and bonded
Many states require that roofing contractors be licensed; some states
have specific licensing requirements. In addition, some contractors
are able to obtain bonding from surety companies, while others are
not. Check to see if a prospective roofing contractor is properly
licensed and/or bonded. Your state's department of professional
regulation or licensing board will have this information.
A professional contractor will be able to supply you with current
financial information. This should include: current assets, net fixed
assets, current liabilities, other liabilities and references from a
financial institution or auditing firm.
Have your contractor list the roofing manufacturers with which his
firm has licensed or approved applicator agreements. Some materials
require special application expertise to provide a quality roof system
that will last.
Insist on a written proposal
Insist on a written proposal and examine it for complete descriptions
of the work and specifications. Be sure the proposal includes the
approximate starting and completion dates, payment procedures, and any
additional issues such as landscape damage prevention and debris
There are two basic categories of roofing warranties: the contractor's
warranty, which covers workmanship, and the manufacturer's warranty,
which covers (as a minimum) materials. Be sure that your contractor
offers a warranty that covers workmanship. A manufacturer's warranty
alone will not protect you if the roof is improperly installed.
Carefully read and understand any roofing warranty offered and watch
for provisions that would void it.
Look for a company with a proven track record that readily offers
client references and a list of completed projects.
When making the final selection, ask the roofing contractor for a list
of recent clients. Check with these customers to see if they were
completely satisfied with the quality of materials and workmanship
provided. You also may contact the Better Business Bureau to find out
if they have received any customer complaints about the contractor.
Provisions for on-site supervision
Have the contractor explain his project supervision and quality
control procedures. Request the name of the person who will be in
charge, how many workers will be required and the estimated time of
A professional maintenance program
Professional roofing contractors will offer periodic maintenance
inspections throughout the year. These inspections will help ensure
that your project complies with the standards specified in the
warranty. A maintenance program usually consists of a detailed visual
examination of the roof system, flashing, insulation and related
components to identify any potential trouble areas.
It pays to prequalify roofing contractors. Keep a healthy skepticism
about the lowest bid. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably
is. Many fly-by-night contractors seem attractive with their
below-cost bids, but often are uninsured and perform substandard work.
Remember, price is only one criterion for selecting a roofing
contractor. Professionalism and quality workmanship also should weigh
heavily on your decision.
Insist on a professional roofing contractor.
� Copyright 2006 National Roofing Contractors Association