How to Choose a Roofer

If you live anywhere in the south or southeastern United States, you may have lived through a hailstorm in recent months. You may also be witnessing an increase in residential roof repairs or roof replacements happening in your neck of the woods. In case you are wondering, yes, those two things are definitely connected.

If your home's roof has been damaged by hail and needs repairs or a total replacement, you want the best possible roofing contractor to do the job. Here are some things for you to consider as you shop for a roofer:

First of all, don't just open the phone book and pick the biggest ad you see for a roofing company. Ask people you know for referrals! Ask your neighbors whose houses have recently been re-roofed. Ask around at work or church for the names of companies to consider (as well as companies to avoid). Your homeowner's insurance may be paying for this, so ask your agent for a recommendation.

Now that you have a few names, do your due diligence. Check their web site (No web site? Now there's a red flag!) to see how long they've been in business, how big the company is, and what other services they may offer. Is it a general contractor who subcontracts out all roof repairs, and if so, are you OK with that? Or is it a company that does nothing but roof replacements? Getting a new roof may be your focus today, but if you can find a company you like and trust that can help you with other issues down the road like gutters or waterproofing, that may be helpful to you.

Also, what roofing materials do they use and recommend? Does their web site mention names like "CertainTeed" and "GAF," or other top-of-the-line shingle makers? Or do you get the impression they'll buy whatever's on sale this week?

Of course, as with any type of home improvement contractor, make sure the company is properly licensed for residential roofing services. (If you are unsure what the licensing requirements are in your state, check your state's web site.) Hint: an unlicensed roofer will be significantly cheaper -- but do you really want to trust him with your home?

Finally, and perhaps most important of all, make sure they are fully insured. Ask to see certificates of insurance-you want to see a general liability policy as well as workers' compensation insurance. Don't accept their good word on it - they may truly believe they are covered when in fact their policy could have lapsed. Insist on seeing the paperwork before work begins.

When you've narrowed your choices to two or three, invite them out to give you an estimate and interview them in person. Ask about their on-time percentage, how long the job will take, and if they clean up thoroughly at the end of each work day or only at the end of the job. Ask to see photos of recent work, before and after if available. Also ask for the names and contact information of recent customers so you can check references. After they leave, call those references! Leave no stones unturned.

Craig Perfect, the owner of Allcon Roofing, a large roofing company in Greenville, South Carolina, offered yet one more idea. "Ask about their safety record," he suggested. "You want to be sure they don't have guys falling off roofs all the time. This could indicate a lack of attention to detail that might carry over into their workmanship." Great insight from an insider.

In conclusion, the best roofing company for you will do more than just replace your roof. They will do it on time, they will do it safely, and they will make sure you are not merely satisfied, but truly happy. They will make sure you are their next referral source. It will be well worth your effort to find the best, for your new roof will be a source of enhance home value as well as peace of mind for years to come.

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