Your roof is an investment. Whether you need repairs or a full roof replacement, the roofing contractor you hire will have a big impact on that investment. This makes hiring a quality local contractor that much more important.
With over 30 years in business, the team at Bill Ragan Roofing knows what it takes to be a high-quality roofing contractor. Now we’re passing on that knowledge. Since we’re always happy to give unbiased and honest information, I’ve come up with why you should hire a local contractor.
Whether it's making sure they have a local office or to protect you from out-of-town companies, you'll see the importance of hiring local.
Why it's important to hire a local contractor
A quality local roofing company will know what local installation codes to follow, the paperwork required, and everything else they’ll need to ensure your roof is correctly installed and in compliance with your state’s requirements. It will save you from a massive headache in the future when dealing with insurance or selling your home.
Another reason you want a local contractor is that you’ll know where they are and how to find them. Making sure the contractor you hire has a local, physical office and a local phone number is crucial.
When a serious storm hits an area, it's easy pickings for out-of-state companies that chase storms. The companies will come in, undercut local roofing company prices, get the money, and move on to the next storm-hit town.
What they do is send highly trained salespeople into the area and begin going from door to door using scare tactics to try to sell new roofs to the unwary homeowners. They will then put a sign in their yard which then attracts their neighbors’ attention.
Before you know it, they've got the whole neighborhood. Once those salespeople leave, the crews stay behind and do the work. Usually, the work on these roofs is done quickly and poorly. But the worst part is that there’s no warranty on their workmanship.
As soon as the workers leave the job site, that out of town company quits answering their phones. This is what is known as a “tail light warranty” because as soon as their tail lights disappear from view, the warranty disappears as well.
That makes hiring local critical.
What to look for in a local roofing contractor
Now that you know why you need to hire a local contractor, you need to know what to look for in a local roofing contractor. Whether it’s what makes them good or what you need to be wary of, the rest of this article tells you what you need to be looking for.
Knowing the owner’s availability, what workmanship warranties they offer, and how long they’ve been in business will help you hire a great local roofing company that’s right for you.
Is the roofing contractor licensed, bonded, and insured?
Keep in mind the state you live in will have different requirements for each of them. Some states might not even require the contractor to have one or the other. Research your local codes and make sure the contractor you hire has all appropriate permits and paperwork.
If the state you’re in requires a contracting license then you must make sure the contractor you hire has one. For a contractor to get a license all they have to do is register with the state’s board of licensing contractors. The price of the job will determine what license they’ll need.
For example, a job over $3,000 requires a home improvement license and anything over $25,000 requires a general contractor’s license.
Roofing contractors should have a general contractor’s license since a roof is a large investment. However, remember this varies from state to state and is always changing. A reputable roofing company will tell you upfront what is required and prove that they have it.
Being bonded means that a bonding company knows that a contractor does business correctly and ethically. The bonding company puts up the bond because they know the contractor will do the job the right way.
A bond ensures that if a company goes out of business during the middle of a job or if there's a problem with the work and they don't fix it, then the customer can fall back on the bond company.
They’ll pay to get the customer’s roof taken care of and then they'll go after the contractor for the money to make it right. A bond is in place to protect you and your investment.
All contractors should be fully insured with general liability, workman's comp, and a company vehicle insurance policy on all the vehicles owned and unowned.
General liability insurance and workman’s comp limits depend on the size of the jobs that a contractor does and the state they’re in. If all they’re doing is small residential work, then their general liability will not be as much as a company that does larger jobs.
Because insurance is so costly, every roofing contractor should be willing to show you a certificate of insurance and be proud of it.
Don’t even consider using a company that's not licensed, bonded and insured. Otherwise, if something does go wrong you will have literally zero recourse. These three pieces of paper are in place to protect you and to ensure the job is done right.
How long has the roofing contractor been in business?
Most startup roofing companies close their doors in 4 years.
Every day a new company starts and another company folds. If you choose a newer startup company that’s a couple of years old, chances are their prices will be a lot cheaper. They probably work out of their home and have much lower overhead than a company that’s been around for 10 or 20 years.
The problem is they don’t know how to price jobs correctly to have retained earnings at the end of the year to get them through the winter months. That's when a new company will shut down.
That's not to say there aren’t good young companies in your area. However, five years from now you want to make sure the company will still be there to take care of your roof investment.
This could be anywhere from one year, two years, three years, five years, 10 years, 25 years or even a lifetime. For example, a company that relies heavily on caulk will give a two-year workmanship warranty because the caulk will fail within a couple of years.
When it comes to a roofing company’s warranty, a good question to ask yourself is, “why don’t they warranty their work for a longer period of time?” If the company really cares about how your roof is installed, they’ll provide you with a lifetime warranty.
Just be warned, warranties are really only worth the paper they're written on. Do your research, ask people around you, and read reviews. You’ll find two things when it comes to warranties from your research.
Either, “I had a problem and they fixed it.” or “I had a problem and they acted like I didn't exist.”
Whatever your research tells you, never choose a contractor that’s not willing to stand behind their workmanship.
Is the roofing contractor certified by shingle manufacturers?
The top shingle manufacturers pick six, eight, or 10 of the best contractors in any given area to go through their certification process. The certification(s) allows a contractor to offer the best warranties and enhanced warranties on the materials from the manufacturer.
If a contractor is established in the community and is known to do top quality work, then the manufacturers will be the ones to seek them out about certifying. But the main reason they pick the top contractors is so that their brand is associated with the contractor’s brand.
Every roofing company that is certified takes it very seriously. If a contractor loses a certification, there are 10 or more companies standing in line waiting to take it from them. That’s why once a contractor gets certified they want to stay certified.
What a certification really tells a customer is that the shingle manufacturer trusts the contractor and that they’re a reputable company. They know the contractor will install their products correctly per the manufacturer’s installation instructions to ensure the customer gets the most out of the materials and that the roof will last for many years to come.
Is the owner of the roofing company available to customers?
When speaking to an owner you know where the buck stops. The name of our company is Bill Ragan Roofing. All you have to do is call and ask to speak to Bill Ragan. It really is that simple.
The ability to speak to the owner about anything roofing is invaluable. If they take time out of their day to listen to any concerns or questions, then you can be well assured that your problem is their problem.
If you’re speaking to people in an office who have no authority, you’ll end up being shuffled around from person to person until you get tired of dealing with the situation. You should always ask, “If there's a problem who do I take it to?”
Whether it’s the owner or the president, you want to know who you’re dealing with and, more importantly, who to talk to when you have a problem. The ability to speak to an owner shows the customer they’re important and that they’ll be taken care of from the very top.
Does the roofing contractor have positive reviews?
In today's digital world, there are so many ways to find a reputable roofer, plumber, carpenter, honestly anything you need. The main way customers choose a service or company is by looking at reviews.
You can pull a lot of information out of reviews that'll tell you if a company does quality work. That's not to say all the reviews you read are accurate. Some people will go to the extreme one way or the other.
However, if a company stands behind their work, interacts positively with customers, and does things the right way, then more than likely it will show in their reviews.
Ready to hire a local roofing contractor?
Now you’re ready to hire a local contractor to take care of your roof. And whatever local contractor you choose, when they come out to give you a quote, you now know what to look for to ensure you’re hiring a top of the line roofing contractor.
Your research isn’t done just yet though, there are more questions you need to ask. Lucky for you, we got you covered.