Avoid Nightmare Contractors

Trusting a contractor to work on your home is no small decision, especially when it comes to roofing. You want to make sure the contractor you hire will complete the work, install quality materials and dispose of your worn shingles and underlayment, leaving your home better than they found it. Here are some great questions to ask your contractor before the job begins to ensure you avoid contractor nightmares!

How long will the project take?

Any reputable contractor should be able to give you a start and end date, provided the weather is favorable in that timeframe. Be sure to ask if the contractor is currently working on other projects or if subcontractors might be needed to finish sections of the work on your home. The more the contractor has going on, the less attention he is likely to pay to each project, which could adversely effect the quality of the work.

How many similar jobs have you completed in the past?

When it comes to roofing, experience counts. Experienced contractors understand how to solve typical problems on the job as they come up and where to purchase quality materials. They will also be familiar with local building codes and regulations. Be sure to ask the contractor if they will provide references of similar projects they've completed in the past.

Who will manage my roofing job?

Find out if you will be working directly with the owner or if there is a foreman or supervisor assigned to your project. Having one point of contact for the work is especially helpful if your project will require subcontractors and avoids time wasted going back and forth between different people for the changes you need. This can also save you money in the long-run, as fewer mistakes are likely to occur with a single point of contact that understands your project.

What is your procedure for obtaining permits?

If a contractor tells you that it is your responsibility to get the permits for your project, find another contractor. Any experienced contractor should consider the permitting process part of their job, not yours! In fact some cities require that a permit must be obtained by the person completing the work. If you were to get the permit in your name, this could cause a conflict of interest and delays in completing your project.

How will my home be protected during construction?

When asking this question, it is important to get specifics! Don't accept incomplete answers like, "If it rains, we can probably put a tarp over the roof to protect it." Instead, ask for a more complete explanation such as "We'll create a temporary framework for your roof and apply reinforced sheeting to prevent leaks while the roof work is in progress."

What if I have changes?

Before you sign a contract with a contractor, be sure you ask how changes will be handled, if they become necessary during the course of the project. Most reliable contractors will require a written change order that contains the specifics of the change and the cost to you or costs assumed by the contractor. It is best to stay away from contractors who don't have a specific change policy in place.

Do you carry insurance?

When an employee of your contractor gets hurt on the job, it is the contractor's responsibility to pay for their medical expenses. To ensure they will be able to cover these expenses, be sure to ask if the contractor carries liability and worker's compensation insurance. Ask for proof of insurance before you agree to work with the contractor.