Selecting a Cleveland OH Roofing Contractor

When it’s time to select a professional Cleveland, OH roofing contractor, you must go beyond simply collecting estimates and selecting the lowest price.  Cleveland roofing companies are each very different depending upon a variety of factors: their size, number of employees, and whether they are corporate or privately owned, to name a few.  Really, you need to set aside at least an hour to look over each company’s estimate and take the time to ask the right questions as well as thoroughly discuss all of your options.  Make sure you are speaking directly with the person who will actually be performing your roofing work.  Not only should they be enthusiastic and extremely knowledgeable about their work, they should also be prepared to discuss their previous roofing work with you, especially within the context of the work they are going to perform for you.

Once you begin to research various roofing companies, make sure to document each company’s address, how long they have been in business, and the reviews, both positive and negative, that they have received for their work.  There are definite advantages to working with a local roofing company.  Remember, because they are local, they’ll have an office nearby and be able to quickly attend to your needs unlike an out-of-area company.


Non-Insured vs Insured Roofers

 It’s extremely important that your roofing contractor provides you with a certificate of insurance.  This will let you know whether or not they carry general liability and workers’ compensation insurance, both of  which are very important were an accident to occur.  Their proof of coverage should be sent to you from their insurance company before they begin work on your roof.  A simple confirmation from the contractor is not enough.

Without workers’ compensation coverage, if a worker was to suffer a personal injury while working on your property, you, as the homeowner, could be held liable for all of their hospital bills and expenses.  This is a huge risk when choosing an uninsured roofing contractor.  Although these uninsured contractors are considerably cheaper, it’s often due to the fact they don’t have to pay large insurance premiums for their employees.  There are also other reasons why a contractor may not be fully insured.  These reasons include:

– The contractor is not a full-time employee

– The contractor is either self-employed or a partner without employees

– The contractor is using new roofing company employees

– The contractor is unable to pay insurance premiums due to the high cost

– The contractor does not guarantee their work

Despite the variety of reasons why a roofing contractor may be uninsured, their lack of insurance is still a great risk to you.  While it is ultimately your choice whether or not to hire a fully insured contractor, we always recommend going with a contractor who is fully insured.


Licensed Roofers

Whether or not your town requires roofing contractors to be licensed, it’s important to understand that their possession of such a license indicates they may have been required to pass some sort of testing, such as a written exam, in order to be able to practice roofing.  Regardless of licensure requirements, most areas do require building and/or zoning permits along with inspections before roofing work can be performed.


Roofing Companies and Their Workmanship Policies

You will find that the vast majority of roofing companies offer workmanship warranties that cover a minimum of twelve months past the completion of the work.  However, the length of any workmanship warranty is only as good as the roofer who stands behind their guarantee.  The best way to find out the worth of your chosen roofer’s guarantee is to speak directly with their other customers.  Asking questions like these will help you to determine the warranty’s worth:

– Was the work performed by the contractor in a reasonable amount of time?

– When asked to provide further information or implement changes did they react calmly?

– Were the customer’s concerns addressed promptly and fully by the company?

– If the customer were to rate the roofing company, would they describe them as a “trustworthy” company?

There are two types of warranties involved when having work done on your roof.  The first is the manufacturer’s guarantee which is specific to the roofing materials and products being used, guaranteeing them from defect.  The second is the roofer’s or roofing company’s guarantee which guarantees their workmanship.  Between these two warranties, the entire shingle roof system is covered.  Not only will a good roofer provide you with a copy of the manufacturer’s warranty, but a select few roofing manufacturers will offer special programs to certain professional roofers in order to display that contractor’s expertise and overall competence when using the manufacturer’s products.


How Many Years has the Roofing Company You’ve Selected Been in Business?

Generally, the longer a company has been in business, the better.  However, it’s important to keep in mind that everyone has to start somewhere.  This is why it’s necessary to investigate your contractor’s references.  Good references are extremely helpful and vitally important when it comes to choosing the right contractor for you.


Does the Contractor Appear Enthusiastic While Describing the Work They’ve Performed?  Do They Have Solid Referrals?

It’s a good idea to request photographs of completed roofing jobs from your contractor so you can see their work first hand.  If there aren’t photos available, make sure to ask for a list of recent customers and their contact information so you can use them for reference.  And, even if you’re give photos, it’s a good idea to still make some calls for reference.  The best case scenario is that the customer will allow you to come see the job in person.  Not only will you really be able to look at the finished product, but you’ll be able to find out a lot more information when speaking face-to-face with past customers.


Were You Offered a Proposal?

Proposals are incredibly important because they offer you, the prospective client, examples of the products that will be used and the services that will be offered.  They give you an idea of the design, product brands, and price of the job as well as include any other provisions associated with the work.  Often you can expect to receive up to three product choices, generally ranging in quality from good to better to best.  Strong proposals should also include product literature and samples.  Generally, if a problem is going to occur with your new roof it will show itself sooner rather than later which is why the “near term” warranty offered by contractors and manufacturers is always more important than the long term warranties.

It’s also important to know that an estimate is somewhat different than a proposal.  Estimates generally only offer one price point, a generalized product description, and very few product options.  While a proposal is much more detailed, estimates are the more traditional way of doing business.


 How Well Does the Roofing Company Handle Complaints?

Make sure when requesting a customer referral list from the contractor, you ask for at least one from which a complaint arose.  You want to know what the complaint was and why it was made.  Be sure to test your contractor’s reputation and find out how the dispute was resolved.  It’s also extremely important to know if the contractor has ever lost a work-related court case or had their contractor’s license suspended.  An excellent way to find out this information is to contact your local Better Business Bureau or licensing authorities.  They’ll be able to provide you with the answers to any questions you may have.  While these are all questions you probably won’t ask until after you’ve received an estimate or proposal, it doesn’t make them any less pertinent.  You want to make sure and cover all your bases.


The Manufacturer’s Warranty

There are several very important steps you need to take when it comes to knowing your warranties.  First, make sure you inspect the building where your roofing work is to be done to ensure the current condition of the property.  Also all the contract terms, payment methods, and roofing work schedule should be written in a clear and extensive fashion so there is no room for confusion or misinterpretation.  Next, double check that all the workmanship, including ventilation requirements, fastener requirements, ice dam protection, and low slope installation terms, conforms to the manufacturer’s warranty and installation guidelines as specified in all of the manufacturer’s literature and product packaging.  Finally, be sure to thoroughly read and understand the contract between you and your roofer.  The larger the roofing company, the more detailed and complex the contract is likely to be and most misunderstandings are rooted in contractual problems rather than problems with the work itself, so it’s important to take the time to do your homework here.


Local Building Codes

Keep yourself up-to-date and appraised of all your local building codes.  Then, work with your contractor to determine who will obtain the appropriate permits, plan the necessary inspections and observe them, take care of permit costs, and make provisions for posting any needed zoning notices.


Choice of Roofing Products

It’s important that your contractor makes you aware of all the product options available to you.  They should present you with a complete range of shingles based upon both quality and brand or manufacturer name and explain the differences between each product from both an aesthetic and technical perspective.  This should include a discussion of their differences in color, texture, style, UV rating, and reinforcement as well as clearly highlighting the difference between each product’s warranty.


The Schedule of Your Roofing Project

Despite the fact that weather conditions can play a major role in the beginning and ending dates of your roofing job, it doesn’t mean that you can’t negotiate a “no later than” clause within your contract.  Make sure that both you and your roofer are clear on all of the terms and that you are ready to enforce them within reason.


Here’s the bottom line, be clear with your contractor that you are not simply looking for the cheapest quote.  Rather, that you are searching for a company that will be able to provide you with the best value for quality work.  It’s important to let your contractor know how you found them and if you were referred, especially if you’ve seen their work in your local neighborhood.  The reality is, your roofer is also looking for good customers, ones that will make them a reasonable profit and become strong referral sources.  There are plenty of dishonest homeowners out there looking to take advantage of contractors by filing frivolous lawsuits.  Taking the time to go through this entire interview process will bring any potential warning signs to the surface and allow both of you feel comfortable that everyone has each other’s best interests at heart.


For More Cleveland, OH Roofing Information

If you need even more help when it comes to selecting the best roofing contractor for your project, it’s best to get in touch with your local Better Business Bureau or roofing trade associations.  Checking with your local town zoning authorities is also a great resource when it comes to gaining information specific to required roofing permits and customer referral lists.