Getting a new roof on your home should be a great experience. The question is: what can you do to get the best roofing experience possible? Chances are you’re not a roofing expert. You don’t know what makes one shingle better than another or what style of ventilation system would be the best for your home. You shouldn’t have to. If you find the right roofing contractor they’ll help you answer all of these questions and more.
So here are four important things to consider before choosing a contractor for your next home exteriors project.
A good reputation isn’t easy to come by. It takes time to develop, and it’s hard to fake. Here are some good ways to find a local roofing company with a good reputation:
Talk with Previous Customers
Any reputable company will be able to give you the names and phone numbers of some of their past customers. Just give them a call and ask them how they liked the contractor! Now, it’s important to keep in mind that even a inferior contractor will have some satisfied customers, and they’re highly unlikely to give you the names of customers that had a problem with their service. For that reason, even if you do call some of their references, you should still do other due diligence.
Sites like Angie’s List, Yelp, and Google reviews are excellent ways to get information on how well companies do business. We think Angie’s List is the best of these because they verify their reviews and are completely customer focused. Yelp and Google are also good, but there are fewer controls on these sites to prevent bogus reviews.
Awards and Accreditations
A great local roofing contractor will almost certainly have received certifications and awards from top manufacturers and local community organizations. Roofing companies like to show off these awards (I know we do!), so they should be easy to find on the their website or inside their office.
2. WARRANTIES & GUARANTEES
Warranties and Guarantees are important because you want to be covered if your roof has problems down the road. There are two main aspects of your roof that need to be covered by warranties: the shingles and the labor. At White Castle Roofing we have a five year workmanship warranty on our labor. If you develop a leak within the first five years after we install your new roof (and it’s our fault) we’ll come out and take care of it immediately at no cost to you. The five year time horizon is an industry standard. If your roof was not installed properly you will usually see a problem in the first five years. We have, for example, already fixed many roofs in Omaha that were installed after the hail storm last year. Most of these were done by “fly by night” contractors or local companies that subbed out the work because they were so busy. Subs and out of town roofers don’t have the same incentive to do high quality work because they won’t be around when the problems and leaks surface.
Lifetime Limited Warranties
The workmanship warranty is important, but the warranty on the shingles is close behind. Most shingles now automatically come with a “lifetime” limited warranty – which really just means 50 years. The key word there is Limited. That means that after the first five or ten years, depending on the brand, the warranty is “Prorated”. This just means that the value your warranty depreciates linearly over time.
Here’s an example: let’s say you buy a shingle with a lifetime limited warranty. On most shingle like this you’re covered fully (materials & labor) for the first ten years, but after ten years only the shingles themselves are covered. Suppose after 20 years your shingles are falling to pieces and need to be replaced. The manufacturer would say that you got 20 years out of the 50 year warranty, which translates to 40%. They would then owe your for the remaining 60% of the life of the shingle that you didn’t get. BUT that 60% is not based on the total cost of replacing your roof. It’s based on the original cost of the shingles themselves, which is about 30% of the cost of the roof. So if you’re new roof cost $10,000, you can generally assume that the shingle cost was about $3,000. 60% of $3,000 is $1,800 – which is the warranty payment you would likely receive in this situation if your shingles failed after 20 years. This won’t even come close to covering the cost of replacing your roof again. That’s why we recommend buying the “full coverage warranty” that most good shingle manufacturers offer.
Full Coverage Warranties
A full coverage warranty means that if your roof is ever deemed defective and fails before the end of the warranty period, the shingle manufacturer will pay labor and materials to replace your roof. You may still have to pay a small amount to get the job done right, but the manufacturer will cover the vast majority of the cost. These warranties generally cost less than $500, but massively lower your liability over the long term. Any reputable contractor should be able to show you these warranty options and be authorized by the manufacturer to offer them to you. We are authorized to offer these warranties for all the best shingle manufacturers: GAF, Owens Corning, and Certainteed.
3. Comparing Apples to Apples
If you get several estimates to replace your roof you’ll probably find that some are more specific while some are very vague. It’s wise to be leery of vague language in any roofing contract. At White Castle we try to be as specific as possible about what we’re going to be doing on your roof and what materials we’ll be using. We want to be perfectly clear up front so we can save everyone from frustration in the long run.
On the other hand, a roofer that is using vague language in his proposal, like: “We will install a lifetime shingle” may be trying to obscure the brand name of the shingle so that it’s harder to compare his estimate to some other estimate. Not all lifetime shingles are the same, and there is a huge variance in price among lifetime shingles. If you receive a bid with this type of language you should ask the contractor exactly which shingle he is quoting so you can compare apples to apples.
Price is obviously important to consider, but you would be making a mistake if that was your only criteria when selecting a contractor. A good rule of thumb is you get what you pay for! At White Castle Roofing we consider ourselves to be a premium contractor. We’ll almost never be the cheapest because we focus on quality. We have to compete with many other companies that aren’t nearly as concerned about quality, but just being the cheapest. The best way to balance this is to tell the contractor exactly what’s important to you! If you really need to get it done as cheaply as possible we can usually find a way to do that without sacrificing quality workmanship.
Also, it’s wise to be aware of crazy “discounts” and pushy sales tactics that pressure you to make a quick decision. Take your time, make sure you are comparing apples to apples from each company and ask lots of questions. There are no dumb questions!
There is no magic bullet to finding best local roofing contractor. You’ve got to do your research and pay attention to the details. Hopefully this article will help you with that process! If you have any question, or if you’d like to get a free roofing estimate feel free to get in touch with us!