Selecting a roofing contractor

By Brian Dikes

Are you in the market for a new roof due to storm damage or need to replace a roof due to aging? If so, be prepared.

Roof replacement will be one of the largest expenditures that you, either through your insurance company or your own pocket, will make on your home without doing a complete renovation. Also, unless your business is buying and flipping homes, this will more than likely be either your first or second time to purchase a roof.

Asphalt composition shingles should be high on the list of products to review. Asphalt shingles are affordable, come in a variety of styles and can be quickly and easily applied by a competent roofing contractor.

Contractor selection is key to the success of the roofing project and your satisfaction with the final product delivered. Generally, homeowners are not experts in roof construction and will need the roofing contractor’s expertise to help guide them through the roof selection.

The question becomes, how to select a company that will do a great job for me. Stanley Bastek, Director of Marketing & Sales Development for Atlas Roofing Corporation says, “Before inviting a contractor into your home review their website and any social media pages. Familiarize yourself with the products they install and promote.  Refer to rating sites to obtain feedback from prior and current clients. This should give you an idea of their professionalism and set expectations for their in-home visit.”

A professional roofing contractor will be up-to-date with current products in the market. They will help you select the best style, color and proper underlayment for optimal shingle installation. The best fit for you will vary by home type and area of the country.

Shingles are often viewed as a commodity item in the market, but there are differences in quality and features. There are shingles in the market that feature a life-time warranty, are algae resistant and manufactured to replicate shake and diamond patterns often seen on Victorian homes from the early 20th century. There are even asphalt composition shingles that are hail resistant and offer a significant discount on homeowner insurance.

The proper underlayment is especially important in areas of our country where ice and snow collect on the roof during the winter months. In addition to roofing materials, a quality contractor should provide recommendations on the overall condition of two major components of your home – attic ventilation and the actual wooden roof deck onto which the shingles will be applied. Both of these items both affect the long-term health and value of your home.

In order to make a well-informed decision prior to purchase, it is best to meet with three to five contractors in your area. Ask how they will address the potential issues with your home. This will give insight into the thoroughness of their work. Review a current copy of their insurance and any additional licensing required for the area. Find out how long they have been in business and if they are local. If local, ask for references, and call them as well as drive by the home and look at the roof. Problems typically show up on a roof within the first 24 months of application. As you interview the contractors ask about their workmanship warranty.

Some roofing contractors are sales organizations hoping to close the deal and move onto the next potential roof sale. Others are roofing consultants that present options after listening and understanding what a client wants. They will guide a homeowner to the best decision based on that knowledge. Never underestimate the power of your initial impression. If all else is equal between different options, let that be your guide.

Take time to understand the products offered in the market and review the contractor’s scope of work. There is no need to feel rushed into making a hasty decision.

Roofs can and should last a long time. The roof protects your home and everything underneath it. You will see it as you drive home each day. It will be half of what others see of the outside of your home. The decision is very important. It could be years before you get a second chance to change it!

Dikes is the director of procurement for Atlas Roofing Corporation in Mississippi.