Roof line of a house with gabels

13 Questions to Ask a Roofing Contractor

What to ask before hiring a Tennessee roofer

Fully screening a potential roofing contractor before hiring them can save you money and a headache. The major questions to ask a roofer include, ‘Are you licensed?’ and ‘Will You Be Removing and Replacing My Old Roof?’ These questions go beyond the basics of shingle types. By asking questions before hiring them you can ensure the highest-quality work and avoid stumbling into a roofing scam.

We answer 13 of the most important questions to ask a roofer before agreeing to roof services.

1. "How Long Does the Roof Take to Complete Start to Finish?"

Knowing ahead of time how long it will take to complete your roof gives you time to plan ahead. It also means you aren’t three weeks into a project that never seems to end. You want to know how long the process will take before the reroofing begins. It shouldn’t take more than a week from the start of reroofing. Keep in mind, it may take longer than a week for the project to begin.

Answer You Want to Hear: 7 days or less (depending on the inspection process in your county).

Red Flag Answer: Anytime longer than a week.

2. "Are You Licensed?"

You want your roofing contractor to be licensed to offer roofing services. This license should be valid for the area where your home is located.

Answer You Want to Hear: Yes

Red Flag Answer: No

3. "What Steps Will You Take to Protect My Home from Damage During Installation?"

Contractor securing roof with shingles

It does you no good to invest in a new roof only for your driveway or home to be damaged in the process. Your roofing contractor should have measures in place to ensure no damage is done to your property while your new roof is being installed.

Answer You Want to Hear: Stabilizers will be used to protect the gutters. Other measures will be taken to protect the rest of the home. A plan of action is in place to repair any damage done during the reroofing process.

Red Flag Answer: No steps to protect your home are mentioned.

4. "Do I Need to Be Present During the Installation?"

People are busy and the installation process is likely to stretch throughout the week during regular work hours. It would be inconvenient for homeowners to be required to be onsite during the entire installation process. You also don’t need to be moved out during the installation process. However, there are times during the process that will be particularly loud. If you, your children, or your pets are particularly sensitive to loud noises you may want to secure a different play to stay during the installation.

Answer You Want to Hear: No

Red Flag Answer: Yes

Answer You Want to Hear: Yes

Red Flag Answer: No

5. "Do You Have Workers Comp and General Liability?"

Roofing contractors working on roof

There’s only one right answer whether your roofer has workers comp and general liability—yes. You’ll want to get a copy of the roofer’s insurance from the insurance company directly. This is normal practice and most insurance companies will send homeowners a copy directly when requested. Don’t accept a copy from the contractor themselves.

Answer You Want to Hear: Yes

Red Flag Answer: No

6. "When Do I Need to Pay?"

You’ll want to know the payment structure upfront—before anything is signed. Depending on the company you work with, a small deposit may be taken before work begins. This is used to buy materials. But, if you are required to pay the full amount upfront, consider other options. By paying the full cost of the roof upfront you may be falling prey to a roofing scam.

Besides knowing when you need to make a deposit and when payments will be due, talk to the potential contractor about financing options.

Answer You Want to Hear: A clearly defined payment structure in writing.

Red Flag Answer: The total cost of the roof is due upfront.

7. "How Long is My Warranty and What Does It Cover?"

You’ll want to know what your warranty covers, how it can be voided, and how long it lasts for. This should be provided to you in writing before the work on your roof begins. On average, most roof warranties will last from seven to 10 years. While most warranties will cover smaller repairs, an Act of God (like a windstorm over 50mph or a hurricane) can result in a voided warranty. This is all info you want to know and understand upfront.

Answer You Want to Hear: A written warranty is provided to you and explained before construction begins.

Red Flag Answer: No warranty is provided.

8. "How Can Unforeseen Circumstances Change the Overall Cost of My Roof?"

Roofing materials laid out on bare roof

There are some unforeseen circumstances your roofing contractors may encounter that could increase the overall cost of your roof. It’s best if the cost isn’t a surprise. If your roofers discover rotted wood or another problem that could result in an increased overall cost, you’ll want to already have a quote ready.

Answer You Want to Hear: An estimated cost for unforeseen circumstances can be supplied with the quote.

Red Flag Answer: Won’t supply an estimated cost for unforeseen circumstances.

9. "Are You A Local Company?"

You only want to work with local companies. Hiring a local roofing contractor can prevent you from becoming a victim of a roofing scam. Roofing scams tend to travel from area to area based on where storms have occurred. Either the job will be completed sloppily or not at all (after payment).

Answer You Want to Hear: Yes

Red Flag Answer: No

10. "How Long Have You Been in the Area?"

Besides selecting a local company to avoid roofing scams, you’ll want to go for a company with a positive reputation and a long history of providing services in the area. It’s usually better to go for a company with many positive years, going back many years. Otherwise, you’re taking a chance that may or may not prove to provide positive results.

Answer You Want to Hear: A good reputation and being in the same area for a longer period of time is favorable over a brand new company with no reputation.

Red Flag Answer: From out of the area. (This could be a roofing scam.)

11. "When Will My Dumpster and Materials Be Delivered? When Will They Be Picked Up?"

Men measuring roof

A dumpster and materials will need to be delivered to your residence in preparation for the reroofing project. In most situations you want the dumpster and materials to be delivered as close to the start of the job as possible. Usually, this means the day before.

You also want the contractor to confirm they will be removing the leftover materials and dumpster from your property. Nobody wants to be left with an unsightly dumpster on their property. In most cases, your contractor should confirm they are picking up the dumpster the day the roof is complete or the day after.

Answer You Want to Hear: A clear timeline stating when materials and the dumpster will be picked up and dropped off in relation to the completion of your new roof.

Red Flag Answer: No clear answer or timeframe provided.

12. "Will All Metals in the Roof Be Replaced?"

When you get a new roof, you want an entirely new roof. This includes the fasteners, anchors, and restraints which offer further security to your roof. A reputable roofer will replace all metal when reroofing. This ensures the roof is more secure and durable.

Answer You Want to Hear: Yes, your roof will be entirely new.

Red Flag Answer: No.

13. "Do You Offer a Release of Lien From Your Vendors?"

A release of lien protects the homeowner from being pursued by the roofing manufacturer or supplier in the case that your roofer misses a payment. A release of lien is provided by the roofing manufacturer or supplier and given to you by a roofing contractor to prove a lien will not be placed on your home. You need to have a release of lien to be fully protected. This isn’t something you want to take a chance with—unless you’re okay and able, to pay for the same roof twice.

Answer You Want to Hear: Yes

Red Flag Answer: No

You should always be wary of door knockers immediately after storms. If the contractor provides a red flag answer avoid hiring them or do further vetting before signing them on as your roofing contractor. Have roofing questions left unanswered? Contact us for answers and a free estimate.

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