If you’ve properly maintained and repaired your business’s roof, it should have a long life. However, eventually you will need to repair or replace it. When you do so, you’ll want to ensure you hire a qualified roofing contractor to do the job.

EMC Engineering Services Supervisor Kody Daniel says he has heard horror stories about roofing scams and shoddy workmanship, especially during times of crisis, such as after a hurricane or other severe storm when many homes and businesses suffer extensive damage. At these times, contractors often travel from other areas, and while many are reputable some scammers show up during the chaotic time.

Whether your roof job is an emergency post-storm necessity, or you have planned the project for months, it’s wise to take precautions. Roofing projects are a substantial investment in protecting your building, so you want the job done right the first time.

Kody recommends doing plenty of homework before hiring a contractor:

  • Look at local companies first to vet them through your local Better Business Bureau. You may also want to check with your state attorney general’s office of consumer protection to see if there are any complaints against the company.
  • Ask other business owners. While you’ll want to ask for and call the references the roofing company provides, you can also check directly with other business owners or managers who you trust for contractor recommendations. For example, Kody says he has heard about school superintendents sharing information from district to district about contractors so they get a good feel for the pros and cons of any service under consideration.
  • Prepare a list of questions to ask each potential roofing contractor. Some questions to ask include:
    • If they will provide current proof of insurance (liability and workers’ compensation), bonding and safety records, such as OSHA logs and their company’s experience modification rating.
    • If the company plans to hire subcontractors for some or all of the work. If this is the case, you’ll need the same insurance details for each of the subs.
    • The length of time the company has been in business and whether it has changed owners recently.
    • What continuing education and professional certifications individual contractors have. Check to see if they are involved in local, state or national associations, such as RCI, Inc. or the National Roofing Contractors Association, state or national roofing contractor boards, associations that serve their customers or local chambers of commerce.
    • Ask potential contractors which roofing materials they are certified to install. If you are planning to install a specific product on your roof, also check with the manufacturer to find out who in your area is certified and trained to install that product. Be sure your selected contractor proves their company has plenty of knowledge and experience with the type of roof you will be replacing. For example, if you have a flat roof, select a contractor who understands the different types of membranes and will incorporate appropriate sloping to roof drains.

Next Steps

Once you gather details from and about the contractors, you can begin to get into the specifics of bids and contracts with the best candidates. The next steps include:

  • Request bids or RFPs from several companies. Be sure that the bids put every detail in writing so you can compare prices and ensure the company will follow all your requests. Find a detailed list of items to include in your bid from the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety. As part of the bid or as a separate detail, ask to see copies of warranties, both from the manufacturer of the materials and on the contractor’s workmanship.
  • Compare the bids, understanding that the low bid is not necessarily the best one. Discuss the ability of each of the contractors to finish the project properly and to meet the commitments in the bid.
  • Sign a contract including all the bid items and be sure the contractor signs too.
  • Be vigilant during the roofing process to ensure that the contractor and subs are fulfilling the requirements laid out in the bid and the contract. Question any part of the process that doesn’t seem correct and examine all work carefully before issuing final payment.