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Does Your Roofing Contractor Measure Up?

Tips to hiring a roofer that is right for you

Storm season has begun. It brings wind and hail, but may blow in “storm chasing” roofing companies from other states. It also brings an influx of brand-new roofing companies that may not have the professional credentials to do the necessary work for homeowners.

We spoke with father-daughter roofing contractors, Dave Laizure and Brooke Laizure, from Whirlwind Roofing & Construction in Bixby, OK about the most important things to consider when hiring a roofing contractor. They offered the following tips to protect yourself, avoid headaches later, and to ensure the best roof or home improvement project for your home.

Do Your Homework

State Registration — In Oklahoma, roofing companies are required to file for registration. This is the first step to vet a company to repair your property. Visit the Oklahoma Construction Industries Board at cib.ok.gov to verify your roofing contractor is in good standing and their registration is current. The site will also show the owner’s name, business address, phone number, and renewal date. The CIB number is required to be visible on vehicles, brochures, websites, and contracts.

Proof of Insurance — Ask for a copy of the contractor’s general liability and workers’ compensation insurance, and then call the insurance agent to verify coverage. Unfortunately, some companies obtain insurance just to get a state registration number and will quit paying the bill, leaving them (and you) open to liability.

Years in Business — The SBA (Small Business Administration) reports that 80% of roofing contractors fail within the first 2 years. In 5 years, 96% are completely out of business. Roofing contractors that stick around past the five-year threshold achieve their longevity for a good reason—they do great work, pay their bills, and serve their customers well.

Personal Recommendations — Ask your friends about home improvement projects they have done and what the job entailed. Make sure the work is similar to your project. For instance, having a new fence installed is quite different than fabricating a custom copper cupola or replacing a roofing system. More importantly, ask your friend about their customer experience.

Test Their Knowledge — Ask the roofing contractor questions about the brands and types of shingles they recommend. Ask about the specific building codes in your area and if they are familiar with your neighborhood HOA requirements. Above all, ask about their years of construction experience.

Building Codes — Does the roofing contractor address all aspects of your roofing project? Common building code items include decking, ventilation, protection in the valleys, or adding drip edge to your wood fascia to protect your home from rot. These are simple things to include while installing a roof system that can save you money later and protect your investment from future repairs.

Photo Documentation — Request photos of the roof before and after work is completed. This provides documentation of your repair and proof that it was completed per your signed agreement. Too often, homeowners pay for expensive repairs that are not done correctly.

Warranties — Ask what labor and manufacturer warranties your contractor provides and if they will register your warranty for you. Also check if the roofing contractor has any factory certifications. This means the company has received training and certification from the manufacturer to meet a stringent set of standards and can offer valuable extended warranties.

Storm Restoration 

Insurance Claims — Insurance companies are notorious for leaving items out of your estimate, which could cost you thousands in out-of-pocket expenses. Be careful about roofers claiming to be insurance claim “specialists.” Can they read and explain to you each line item in your insurance paperwork and tell you what is and what is not included? Make sure the contractor is certified to use insurance property estimating software programs such as Xactimate. Level 3 is the highest certification.  

Storm Chasers — Hire a local contractor. They will be here for you today, tomorrow, and for years to come. Does the roofer have an Oklahoma license plate on their truck? If not, they may be here today, and gone tomorrow.

Door Knockers — Beware of roofing companies that flood your neighborhood after a storm. They tend to be aggressive and will pressure you into signing a contract. These companies tend to concentrate on quantity, not quality.

Deductibles — The biggest red flag in hiring a roofing contractor is offering to “absorb your deductible.” Although tempting, it is illegal and any contractor offering to do so is committing insurance fraud and endangering the homeowner.

Buyer Beware

No Brick and Mortar — Choose a roofing contractor with an office or product showroom that you can visit. Roofing companies with a physical location have made an investment in their community and offer a safe place to discuss your project and review product samples and colors.

Tricks and Gimmicks — Be wary of roofing contractors offering too-good-to-be-true offers such as $1,000 off your roof or extremely low payments. Always read the fine print and ask for clarity on any special offers and make sure any verbal promises are put in writing.

Vague Estimates — Beware of estimates that are vague and only have a price and no details of materials or the roofing system to be used. Estimates should also include photo documentation, terms and conditions, payment options, and “good, better, best” choices for your project.

Not Signing a Contract — Always get the details in writing. Contracts protect you and eliminate any oral promises and fluffy language that can be misconstrued.

Money Up Front — Be wary of roofers asking to be paid in full before starting work. You may never see them again! However, it is customary for a local company to ask for half down prior to the job for materials and the rest after completion.

Excessive Google Reviews — Read the company’s reviews for authenticity. Hundreds of 5-star reviews without a personal testimonial is a sign of purchased reviews. Franchised roofing companies can use all their company locations’ reviews, making them appear to have a larger local presence.

“The SBA reports 96% of roofing contractors are completely out of business within 5 years.”

  • Photo: Brooke Laizure