Please advise me on selecting a roofer.

Hello everyone. I’m looking to have a new roof put on. I’ve never done this before, so I’m looking for advise.

What do I need to look out for? I know there are a lot of types of product, are there any particular styles I should avoid? What’s the best way to shop this service?

I thought I’d google local roofers and get at least three bids, but I don’t know if I should expect to pay a fee for that or not. I assume they can advise me about the many styles, but I also assume up-sell will be at play.

So, just looking for some help. Thanks in advance.

I’ll just comment on of a few of the choices you have with their products, not the roofers themselves, seem like your approach is a good start there of getting three bids.

I’m a bit biased towards metal roofs for a whole lot of reasons, although it typically runs you a bit more than typical shingles, and since it’s metal buildings I’m mostly putting them on, anyway, it’s a wise choice. For homes, not a bad choice either, I have one on mine, but probably would have been just as content with a good composite shingle roof.

While on jury duty about two years ago, I met a roofer who said they now have a 40 year, and I think 50 year composite shingle that he was really sold on. Also, if you get hail damage on that particular roof, even though the roof is still good, the insurance company often pays out like a slot machine. Not so on a metal roof, where they consider it only cosmetic for most hail damage, but if the hail was big enough, to where it crimpled the overlapping edge enough to where water could possibly seep in, they will then pay for replacement. I’m sure the insurance policies vary considerably, but this is what I’ve discovered in my area of N. TX.

Be leery of insurance companies that claim if you go with a metal roof, you’ll receive a 25% discount. Maybe, maybe not. One thing I learned, is that it was 25% off, but that the roof aspect was only a certain percentage of the total of the insurance policy so it was only 25% off of that, not the entire policy. So this only resulted in something like $21.00 savings for me. I have heard from another who said their insurance company did deduct a full 25% off of their entire policy. Not sure how reliable that info was though.

I personally have always admired the clay tile roofs the most, these are capable of going over 100 years, but I believe it’s not a very cost efficient thing to do for most folks when you figure in initial costs, regardless of how long it lasts, that is a lot of money tied up in a roof, that could have been going to other things.

I would guess our (shingled) roof has 10 more years of life.

I am definitely going with a steel roof when it comes time.

The obvious part of the answer is to ask your friends for a reference, if possible

I got my roofing company from a friend of mine who is a Realtor. She’s referred them to a bunch of clients, and got good feedback. At the time, I only needed a leak repaired. I was impressed with the company, and the owner actually reviewed my insurance policy for me to see if there were any additional discounts I should be getting for the roof, or if there were easy improvements I could do to get some.
The estimates you get should be free. When I needed a new roof, I had my regular company and another one out for estimates. No cost.

We had some work done on ours ~15 year old shingle roof earlier this year.

We got three bids:

A) From one of the big local residential companies that advertises on the evening news and AM radio, and has a catchy 800 number
B) From a less-big residential company that was in the top two or three on Yelp
C) From a primarily commercial company recommended by a friend who is in property development

A) Came back at about 15 grand. Full replacement, 40 year shingles, and whole shebang. They offered a 20% discount if we signed within the next 24 hours
B) I don’t remember, but it was somewhere between 5-10k.
C) Told us that the root as a whole has a good ten years left in in. They recommended fixing a few nail pops, installing some nifty flushmount gutter guards, tuckpointing a few spots on the chimney, and installing new flashing here and there, for $1,200

We went with option C. We’re totally happy with the decision.

Being a commercial outfit, they didn’t do much in the way of hand-holding as far as actually scheduling the work - they gave us a two week window when the work would be done, and dudes showed up randomly during that window to do various parts of the job. The crews never called to say they were on the way, or even bothered knocking on the door to let us know they were starting (or finishing.)

I used to deal with commercial contractors in a previous job, so I knew what to expect, but my wife was pretty surprised to wake up to clomping around on the roof at 7AM a couple of times.

Anyway, if you can deal with the arms-length nature of the deals, try to find a commercial outfit. Their salespeople are more invested in developing long term relationships with businesses than making big sales quick, and it shows when they do residential business.

Avoid outfits with mnemonic telephone numbers like the plague. That holds true for HVAC contractors and foundation repair, too.

Metal shingles are best, as they last forever, but they’re expensive. The roofer should be using either Malarkey or Certainteed asphalt shingles. Don’t accept a bargain brand. Have the estimator check for sufficient vents and include those in the bid. Ask the estimator if they include an underlayment allowance. Many will throw in a few sheets gratis, in case they run into minor damage. DON’T let anybody talk you into just shingling over the existing roof. It may not be against code, but unless those old shingles come off, you have no idea what condition the felt paper or the underlayment is in. If you are in a northern climate, make sure you get ice shield installed at least three feet up from the eaves, and in the valleys.

I’d say it depends on how long you plan on staying in your house. If you are moving in 5 years, go cheap. If you are planning on leaving only when you assume room temperature, buy the best you can afford. A neighbor just had a new roof put on, some sort of super shingle, 100 year guarantee. Really made me laugh, because he’s 85!!! $19K for 20 square of roof. I just put a roof on a small commercial building I own, I spent $3k on 25 square. A cheap roof, I am selling the place soon, but it looks good, and it will last at least 10 years. I did the work myself. I am doing my house soon, in metal, and I expect that to be about $5k for matierals.

Some roofers charge for estimates but in my area (VA) the majority do not. When first contacting the roofer ask if they charge. Usually their web sites/ads spell this out.

Make sure each estimate coincides so that you can compare apples to apples as opposed to one roofer estimating a 25 year covering and another a 40 year. Roofers determine required materials by measuring the roof to arrive at the number of squares of shingles needed to cover the roof. A square equals 100 sq ft of roof area so ask them to show the total number of squares needed on their estimate.

Do you have decorative/expensive shrubbery, sheds or a/c units around the perimeter of your home? If so, ask them if they will protect it and/or be responsible for damage and then read their written proposal looking for any contradictory disclaimers.

Although is not a cure all for sorting out contractors, it can be a beneficial tool to review feedback from other customers after they dealt with various contractors in your area.

Thanks everyone. This is very helpful. Lot’s of things I’d have never considered.

Where do you live?

I’m a roofer, and a good one, ask me anything.

Make sure they’re licensed, make sure they’ve been in business at least three years in your state, (not what they say, actually three years.) I’ll echo either Malarkey or Certainteed.

That’s some guarantee! Do you know anything more about this super shingle? I wonder what the guarantee really covers, and I suspect perhaps their is some fine print I’d really want to read over many times.

When I did my home with metal, I went with the 40 year panels, and it was about half the size of yours, so, I figure you got the costs about right.

If you have much of a pitch at all on your roof, say a 4/12 or thereabouts, do yourself a favor and get the rubber ball type mat that easily allows you to walk on the metal sheets. That, or get some gum shoes (I use Roper) which are the only shoes I have found to date, that allowed me to stay on. Even the mat and these type shoes have limits, not much anything much steeper than 4/12, otherwise that would require a different approach.

What are some basic questions to ask to help determine if a roofer is competent or not?
Are there roofer certifications to look for?
What are the most commonly overlooked roof problems by homeowners?
What do you wish people knew more about, regarding their roofs or roofers in general?

Thanks in advance!

We just had our roof re-done, it was definately needed. We went with word-of-mouth to identify 2-3 good roofers and got estimates from each. The one we picked was priced roughly as follows:

  • composite shingles $6500
  • architectural shingles $7500
  • metal roof $9500

Caveats - we had 3 layers of shingles to be removed (thanks, previous owners!) and installed a ridge vent as well. Those items added to the price. We went with the 2nd option, which will likely last until after my wife and I kick the bucket!

Don’t forget that once they rip up the shingles, they may find some bad plywood which must be replaced. Full plywood replacement about doubled my original estimate.
(From the attic, I could tell a lot of it was bad & not put on anything close to square - the few they could have left wouldn’t have lined up with the new ones)

When I was interviewing potential roofers, I had one guy stop by who lit up a cigar in my living room (without asking me first, of course) and kept talking about how he knew how to screw over insurance companies. :smack: He didn’t get my business.

It turned out that my homeowner’s insurance did pay for the replacement; it qualified due to weather damage. My neighbor pointed it out to me, and I went through the proper channels and was indeed reimbursed minus a $500 deductible. :cool: It doesn’t hurt to ask.

I’m in El Dorado, California.

I can’t think of anything to ask, other than are you near me? :slight_smile:

Check with the Better Business Bureau. We had a great quote from a company but when we checked BBB they had an F rating.

Sorry it took me so long to respond.

Are they licensed? Insured? Look for the actual certificates

How long have they actually been in business? ( Everyone says 28 years but it’s more like six months.) ((Roofers are in business for an average of 2 years-make sure not to hire one of those))

They should belong to some manufacturer’s program-GAF Master Elite, Certainteed ShingleMaster. Some programs have no criteria to be met, but most do. Certainteed is the most rigorous.

Rating with the BBB. Should be at least an A

References- Actually call the references.

Website, has to have one in this day and age, seriously.

On time, clean, decent truck with signage on truck, CLIMBS ON THE ROOF.

No high pressure sales. If you aren’t comfortable with him for whatever reason during the sales part, how are you going to work together when your roof is completely torn off and it starts to rain? Or the dumpster guy backs into your garage?

Overlooked problems? Kickout flashings maybe. Here is a description from a guy I know that explains it well.

I wish more people knew that with the lowest price is some sort of cost. Roofing is a commodity, and as such, pricing is about the same across the board. The labor and material I pay is the same that the roofer down the street pays. Therefore, if there is significant differences in price, why?

Didn’t measure it right.
Didn’t price it right-priced to low to stay in business long term.
Has to support a lot of overhead.
Bait and switch-priced it low to get the job, will overcharge at the end or during construction.
Supply and demand-time of the season, workload
You’re a pain in the ass-If I suspect you are going to be unreasonable or high maintenance, I’m charging more. If you are nice, appear sane and offer me a cookie, you’re probably going to pay less.