There is more to roofing than nailing down shingles and hoping for the best. A roof is a structural system made up of rafter framing, decking, underlayment, shingles of some sort, flashing, cornice and fascia, gutters, skylights and ventilation. All of this means a professional roofer has to develop skills in carpentry, millwork, and roofing, as well as a clear understanding of how heat and humidity affect your roof and the rest of your home. Additionally, a good roofer must be conscientious with respect to maintaining a safe working environment. Of course, most feel that it is always the best option to have a professional do your work, the problem is in how to go about finding the right one.
You can spot a good roofer by asking a few questions and identifying a number of indicators that will likely reveal what they really know about their trade and what kind of job they will do. What you should look for are those rare individuals who take pride in their work. These people keep up with advances in materials and techniques. They make it a point to take questions to manufacturer’s technical representatives. They are responsive to concerns of their customers and are glad to take as much time as necessary to explain things clearly. What this adds up to is, a professional roofer will spare no effort to determine how best the customer’s requirements will be satisfied given the budget available.
A professional roofer will do whatever is required to explain the options available so the customer can make an informed, intelligent decision. All roofs are not created equal and there is a wide range of roofing systems that will satisfactorily protect your home.
While roofing may not be all that complicated, the average homeowner is not really familiar with the ins and outs of roofing. This will leave them with little choice but to depend on whomever they hire to do the work. This is a trust that good professionals take seriously. It is not enough for them to be concerned and personable – they should also possess sufficient resources of experience and knowledge. This will insure that their professional obligation is met to the homeowner’s advantage. This is the reason that professionals are easy to recognize. If you feel well educated and comfortable after your visit with a roofer, and the other criteria outlined below are met, then you will be as assured as you can that your job will be done to meet your expectations.
Anyone that presents themselves to be a roofer should know the principal conditions that must be met in installing a durable, trouble-free roof that meets or exceeds the manufacturer’s specifications, industry standards and local building codes.
The most important point that should be on your checklist is that you be protected from liability if a roofer, or anyone else, is injured on your job.
In order to assure your protection professional roofers carry Worker’s Compensation and General Liability insurance. A real professional will be happy to give you the name of his or her insurance carrier and agent. You can then verify that a policy is in force. You should call the carrier and ask them to send you a Certificate of Insurance. They should be glad to as this is part of their job. You should not accept a letter or certificate directly from your roofer as proof of insurance. That is simply not the way things are done by professionals.
A roofer that claims they are exempt from carrying insurance, or says that your homeowner’s insurance will cover you, or that they are self-insured, may or may not be telling the truth. Don’t take a chance. The consequences are too great it they are being less that honest. You should do business with people that care enough about your welfare to insure your job in a professional manner.
A dirty worksite is inefficient and dangerous. It is not acceptable for your roofer to say that they will clean up when they are done. The crew that you are considering should have climbing gear to work safely if you have a steep roof. They should use roofing jacks. They should not resort to the common, incorrect, unprofessional use of two by fours to serve as toe boards. They should have a roofing magnet to pick up nails. They should dispose of roofing debris at a recycling location or an approved landfill. They should act like professionals. They should have a permanent crew. Not one that is made up of temporary labor.
Everyone has to start somewhere so don't automatically disqualify a roofer who has just gotten into business. However, do hold them to the same standard as others that you are interviewing. Make sure you know whether the person who comes out to talk to you is a trained roofer or a trained salesman. A salesman will tend to promise more than the crew is able to deliver. There is probably no conspiracy involved. It’s just a matter of the salesman not really having the knowledge necessary to make accurate judgments.
On the other hand, a professional roofer will get on the roof and conduct a close inspection of the decking, ventilation, flashing etc. Some take Polaroid pictures of all problem areas so that you can see what they saw.