Roofing Helper Title
The New Roof Buyer's Guide

Roof Shopping Tips

How to Choose a Qualified Roofing Contractor

Installing a new roof is a big investment, and the person you choose to handle this installation for you is very important. We have some guidelines to follow to ensure you get the best fit for your particular job. We learned these from real world experience and through extensive research. Here are our thoughts:

Get Recommendations

Talk to friends, neighbors and relatives about their roofing experiences, both positive and negative. Knock on doors of houses with roofs that appeal to you and find out who did the job. There are national roofing associations, Better Business Bureaus, Chambers of Commerce, contractors' associations and other groups to help too. Other professionals can also help: we got a great referral from friends who are local developers and often use roofing contractors for their projects.

Contact Several Roofing Contractors

We called several contractors before meeting with any of them and asked them questions about their experience and our roofing needs. We were impressed with those who responded to us quickly and enthusiastically. Those that did not call back were eliminated from consideration – that's not a good sign for responsiveness down the road!

Make Sure It's a Match

When you meet with the roofing contractors, determine whether you can work well together. Are they high-pressure, hard-sell types? Are they too low-key? Are they evaluating your roof's specific needs and recommending courses of action? We ruled out some contractors who seemed like they were "doing us a favor" by coming to our house and providing an estimate. Missed appointments and chronic lateness were also deal-killers for us.

Check Their Credentials and References

Verify their professional license with the appropriate government agency to ensure they are in good standing. Check with the Better Business Bureau to see about complaints on file. We also asked to see their liability and workers' compensation insurance – they should have both. Get online and type the contractor's name into Google to see what comes up. You may also want to check their membership in professional roofing associations, but it wasn't that important to us.

We also asked for three references for each contractor we were considering. We called each reference and also viewed the roofs. We asked lots of questions about their experiences with the contractors. People were surprisingly forthright about their positive and negative experiences, but you need to ask the question in the right way. We found that directly asking "Was there anything about your experience with XYZ contractor that was negative?" was the way to get people to be candid about their viewpoint.

Get it in Writing

We got three written estimates from the final contenders. We reviewed warranties and guarantees to know exactly what we were getting. We read and compared all the fine print. This was the point at which we negotiated price to see who would give us the best deal. We used the estimates to try and negotiate the best price. Some companies offered upgrades to better or longer-lasting roofs instead of decreasing the quote.

Sign the Contract

No work should begin without a signed, written contract. Our contract included the following elements:

  • Scope of work
  • Start and end dates
  • Products/materials used
  • Price of additional work if required
  • Payment schedule
  • Total cost
  • Warranty
  • Commitment to clean up premises
  • Responsibility to repair any damage to the premises

Any verbal commitments should also be put in writing and signed.


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Buyer's Guide Contents
How Roofs Work
Causes of Roof Problems
Composite and Tile Roofs
Metal Roofs
Roof Price Comparison
Roofing Estimates
Roof Shopping Tips
Our New Roof Installation
The Finished Product
Roof Replacement Checklist
Do-it-Yourself Roof Repairs

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