How To Bend Your Roofing Contractor Into Submission

Each year, millions of homeowners seek services provided by roofing contractors.
Some take the time to research and find a dependable, trustworthy roofer while others carelessly pick the roofer that offers the lowest price. Unfortunately, the careless decision can turn in to a long, drawn out process where the homeowner incurs ‘unexpected’ expenses, missed deadlines or both. In the worst cases, homeowners may choose an uninsured roofer and expose themselves to financial liability for injured workers. Homeowners can, however, avoid these problems and ensure that they get the best roof they can afford by following a few simple steps.

1.) Do Your Research

Spend some time educating yourself online about roofing types, roofing terminology and available roofing products. In modern roofing, there are a myriad of new and traditional roofing products and systems available for residential use. For each of these, there are many product attributes that are more desirable than others. Knowing the difference between a ‘Manufacturer’s Shingle Warranty’ and the roofers ‘Workamanship Guarantee’ for example, let’s the roofer know that you’ve done your homework. In short–don’t just pick a roofer because you like the color on the shingle sample board they showed you. There’s more to it. Be sure you’re comfortable with the shingle’s warranty period, premium protection period, physical properties (such as impact, wind and algae resistance) and most importantly be comfortable with the roofer. You can’t really ascertain the roofer’s expertise without having some background yourself. A little online research will help you familiarize yourself with industry ‘jargon’ that will make you more comfortable during the interview and negotiation process.

2.) Create Your Contractor ‘Short-list’

Now that you’ve armed yourself with words like ‘30# (pronounced ’30-pound’) felt’ and ‘starter strip’ and ‘hip-and-ridge’, it’s time to start talking to contractors. But how to choose? Your preferred search engine will likely return hundreds of Roofing Contractors in your area. Some good—some bad. Eliminating the bad is pretty easy. Start by checking the Better Business Bureau (BBB). The BBB lists only those contractors who meet their stringent criteria relating to the contractor’s business practices and history. If your contractor is listed here, you’re likely dealing with a reputable company.

Next, search the web for customer reviews and testimonials–but take these with a grain of salt! Remember, folks tend to get motivated to write about bad experiences rather than good ones. While good vs. bad reviews is an indicator, remember, all contractors make mistakes. Look beyond good vs. bad, and try to determine how well or if the contractor resolved the problem. Positive problem resolution experiences are a good sign.

Finally, You should also confirm that the contractors are properly licensed within their state. (State requirements for roofing contractors vary.) In addition, roofing contractors should be bonded and insured. Ask them to fax or email documentation proving their good status. If they are unwilling to produce these documents, move on to the next contractor.

3.) Request an Inspection & Quote

Once you’ve created your shortlist of roofers, schedule a time for each of them to come to your home and perform a thorough inspection your roof. Only a thorough inspection gives a roofer the information they need to provide an accurate estimate. While the contractor is inspecting you roof, don’t wait inside, observe them to see how thorough they are in finding and assessing problem areas in your roof, shingles or underlying structure. Creditable roofers minimize mid-job surprises in the way of costs or delays by. Most companies offer roofing inspections and estimates free of charge. Be wary of those who charge for these services.

4.) Be Involved

The biggest mistake you can make when hiring a roofing contractor is not asking questions. Asking questions tells the roofer that you are a concerned individual, interesting in a quality product. More importantly, it lets them know that you’re willing to speak up about a problem. Below are a few items you may want to discuss with each contractor that provides an inspection and estimate. Preparing for these conversations may require a little footwork on your part, but will ensure that you’re choosing the right roofing contractor for your roof repair or roof replacement.


Ensure that you are protected from liability in the unfortunate event that a roofer is injured on your property during the project. Reputable roofing companies are eager to provide you with the name of their insurance carrier and their agent. You should personally verify that their policy is current by calling the carrier and requesting a copy of the Certificate of Insurance. It is the carriers job to provide this assistance, so don’t be afraid to ask. Do not accept a letter or certificate directly from the roofer as proof! Be sure that it is provided directly from the insurance carrier.

Safety Procedures

Ask about the roofing contractor’s safety procedures, safety programs and equipment they use. If their only safety requirement is attaching a 2 x 4 to the deck of your roof for footing, you may want to reconsider using them. Reputable roofing contractors take safety seriously and actively engage in internal safety education.

Local Building Codes

Building codes vary from state to state–and in some cases from county to county. Your roofing contractor is required to adhere to these codes. Spending a little time online searching for information about local roofing codes will prepare you for this conversation. Tell the contractor what you know. You may not be right in all instances, but the contractor should be able to tell you why. Any quality roofing contractor should be able to speak competently on this subject. Again, addressing the issue lets the contractor know that this is important to you, and therefore, should be important to him.


Question your contractor about how (and when) they will clean up. Caring roofing contractors cleanup as they go. If your job takes more than one day, the roofer should ensure that the grounds are left clean at the end of the work day from any tear-off or material debris. In addition, they’ll should use magnetic nail pick-up devices to be sure neither you nor your pets are injured. Finally, ask them how they intend to protect the decorative foliage and plantings around your home. Have a clear understanding of who’s responsibility it is to replace damaged foliage.

5.) Award The Contract

You’ve done your homework, you’ve interviewed multiple contractors and you’ve shown them that you’re not an idle homeowner willing to accept the first thing the contractor tries to sell you. Now it’s time to award the job. The winning contractor will present you with a contract for their roofing services. A detailed contract is the keystone to avoiding any misunderstandings between you and your roofer. All points relating to the project should be clearly stated and fully explained within the text. Be sure that it specifies exactly what you want done and the products you have chosen. Here are some provisions your contract should contain:

-The current roof should be removed so that flashing and decking can be inspected and repaired.

(Note: In some cases you may choose to roof-over your existing shingles if the roof is in good enough condition and the budget leans toward skipping this step. This option should not be the initial desire.)

-Costs should be specified for repairing unanticipated damage.
-A sufficient ventilation system should be devised and installed if necessary.
-The type of felt weight should be included. 30# felt is optimal, but 15# felt can be substituted if budget calls for it.
-Installation of all products to manufacturer’s specifications.
-Details of flashing should be addressed. This is important for a leak-proof roof.
-Cleaning standards should be stated.
-The insurance carrier information should be included. -A water test will ensure a job well done and a final cleaning will wrap things up.

Remember, read your contract thoroughly, and don’t be afraid to request reasonable changes to the contract as you see fit.

Follow these simple steps and you’ll likely enjoy a happy, stress-free roofing project.

This message has been provided to you by Sherriff-Goslin Co.
Sherriff-Goslin is accredited by the Better Business Bureau and has been satisfying home owners needs since 1906. With 24 branches, we service all of Michigan, Indiana and Ohio. Visit today to request a free roof inspection and estimate.

“The Sherriff” has been providing homeowners in the Midwest quality roofing services, and common sense advice, for longer than he’d care to mention. Suffice to say he’s seen a lot of roofs and roofing companies come and go.

Learn more about The Sherriff at

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