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Before You Select a Roofing Contractor . . .

After nearly 30 years, this wood shake roof was in sore need of replacement. But the homeowners had never had a roof put on before and were completely baffled about how to start. So their first stop was across the street to a neighbor's home. They had replaced their roof a few months earlier. Happy with the company that they had hired, after getting a few quotes, they were more than happy to pass on the card of the roofing company they had used.

Next stop: Get a minimum of 5 bids from roofing companies. Set an appointment with each company to visit your home, discuss their products and services and supply you with a bid. Make sure that each sales rep knows that you are getting bids from several companies.

Collect each company's bid sheet and any brochures they can provide for you. They do not all use the same product lines, so ask questions regarding the manufacturers they favour. When they tell you that a particular roof is guaranteed for 30, 40 or 50 years, you must realize that the warranty period for 100% of the roofing product is really only going to be about 5 years. After 5 years, the warranty declines by a percentage based on the number of years the roof is warranted for. Realize too that the warranty may or may not include the labor portion of the total cost of your roof.

Important Aspects to Consider

Contractor's License A contractor must have a state license to work on your property. It is in your best interest to find out the following: 1) Is the license "active" in your state? 2) Does the license belong to the contractor proposing to do the work for you? 3) Are there registered complaints against the contractor? By calling your state's licensing board, you can verify license information. If you use an unlicensed contractor on your home, the state will not be able to help you when or if something goes wrong.

Insurance A contractor should have two types of insurance before you allow them to work on your home. Worker's Compensation - This insurance is to cover injuries to a contractor's employee while working on your property. Make sure the contractor has an insurance certificate made out in your name before work begins. If a contractor cannot produce a proof of insurance, you become liable for any injuries. Liability Insurance - This insurance covers damage to your property while work is being done there. Have the contractor send you an insurance certificate made out in your name before work begins. If the contractor does not have liability coverage, damage to your home from unforeseen rain or an accidental fire will have to be covered by our own homeowners policy.

Deposits By law a contractor is only allowed to ask for a 10% deposit (California, other states may differ) before starting your work. If he asks for anything more than 10%, then he may be using your money to pay for past bills. A company that is financially secure and trusted by material supplies does not need to ask for a deposit unless the job is using custom material or is an extremely large project.

Permits Any work over $750 (excluding repairs) typically requires a city permit (California, other states may differ). The permit pays for a city inspector to come to your property and inspect the work of the contractor for your protection. All permits should be issued by the contractor. Be very careful if a contractor tells you to go and get the permit because it will "save you money". A permit costs the same no matter who gets it. He may be having you get the permit as now the homeowner agrees to be the responsible party for insurance and work liability with the city.

Material and Labor Releases Request that the contractor issue these releases upon completion for any new construction as it releases you from financial liability if the contractor does not pay his material or labor bills for work at your property.

The Contractor Here are some additional points to consider when deciding between comparable contractors. 1) Was the contractor on time for your estimate? If not, or if he failed to show, calling up later with some excuse, drop him from your bid list immediately. If a contractor is not "on his game" at the time he most wants to impress you (before he has been given the job), then he will not be "on his game" after he gets you to sign the contract. 2) Does the contractor have an actual office for you to go visit? 3) Does the contractor have a secretary or paging service for emergency situations? 4) Do you feel comfortable with him workin on your biggest investment, that being your home? Remember, the person you meet with could just be a nice salesman and not the person you will deal with regarding the actual work and any complaints or concerns you may have. 5) Call your city's building department and ask if they are familiar with the contractor you plan to use and if they have anything negative to say about the company.

Tips on Getting a New Roof

Ways to Ensure You Pay a Fair Price

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