Buying a new roof is a significant initial and ongoing investment. Before you spend your money, spend some time learning how to evaluate the roofing contractor who may be doing the work. You should insist on working with a professional roofing contractor. The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) wants to assist you in getting the kind of results you expect-a quality roof and a fair price.

It pays to remember that all roofing contractors are not alike. NRCA recommends that you pre-qualify your roofing contractor to get the job done right the first time.

There is no foolproof method for selecting a professional, but there are a number of things that impact making the best decision possible when evaluating contractors.

  • Check for a permanent place of business, telephone number, tax ID number and, where appropriate, a business license. A professional will have these readily available.
  • Insist on seeing copies of both liability coverage and workers' compensation insurance certificates. Make sure the coverage runs through the duration of the job and ask for a binder/coverage certificate specifically listing your project. Many building owners have been dragged into litigation involving uninsured roofing contractors. Also, if a contractor is not properly insured, the owner may be liable for accidents that occur on the property.   A contractor can have insurance but it may not cover your project; if they can not prove to you that your project is covered then do not use them.
  • Check to see if the roofing contractor is properly licensed and/or bonded. Some states have very specific state licensing requirements, while others do not. Your state's Department of Professional Regulation or Licensing Board will have this information.
  • Look for a company with a proven track record that readily offers client references and a list of completed projects. Call these clients to find out if they were satisfied with the roof systems, services and work they received.   Call the Better Business Bureau to check on complaints.   Ask for a written statement that the owners have not filed bankruptcy or any company that they had an ownership interest in did not file bankruptcy within the past five years.   If they have then you need to understand what happened.   Your warranty may become worthless if an installing company files bankruptcy
  • Insist on a written proposal and examine it for complete descriptions of the work and specifications, including approximate starting and completion dates and payment procedures.   If the company can not explain what they are going to do then how can they do it?
  • Have your contractor list the roofing manufacturers with which his firm has licensed or approved applicator agreements. Most materials require special application expertise in order to achieve a quality roof system that will last.
  • Have the contractor explain his project supervision and quality control procedures. Request the name of the person who will be in charge, how many workers will be required and the estimated time of completion.   Ask if they have a non-working job superintendent or foreman; how can they make sure that the job is being done properly if everyone is installing?
  • Check to see if the contractor is a member of any regional or national industry association, such as NRCA.
  • Call your local Better Business Bureau or Department of Professional Regulation to check for possible complaints filed against the contractor.
  • Carefully read and understand any roof warranty offered and watch for provisions that would void it.   If the company can not or will not tell you in writing exactly what is necessary to maintain your warranty then how will you comply?
  • Choose a company committed to the safety and education of its workers. Ask the contractor what kind of safety training he provides for his workers and what industry educational programs they have attended. The best roofing contractor is only as good as the workers who actually install the roof.
  • Keep a healthy skepticism about the lowest bid. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Many fly-by-night contractors seem attractive with their below-cost bids, but are often uninsured and perform substandard work. Remember, price is only one of the criteria for selecting a roofing contractor. Long after the roof is installed, ongoing maintenance, warranty support, professionalism and quality workmanship are the things that count.