Normally you should ask for at least three bids for any major roofing project in Cleveland. But, don’t get carried away with bargain hunting. Lower quotes doesn’t always equate into better performance.
It is true that larger firms have more overhead than ma and pop firms, and that does mean elevated quotes, but they may have more experience, better craftsmen, more equipment, or a combination of all three.
Beware when you contract with a floater operating out a P.O. Box, they may be cheaper but they also carry a very big risk.
There is also a practice known as low-balling, trying to make the bid or quote irresistible. The plan is to come in cheap and pad the bill with change orders once the work gets underway. If you get an unusual low bid it should send up a red flag.
In the roofing business, a contractor’s reputation is everything. Completing a job at a fair price on time with the agreed upon materials is what you are both looking for. Ask for bank references, a copy of their credit file, and satisfied clients that you can call. If a job is in the 10’s of thousands you may want to consider buying a performance or completion bond. At the cost of about 2% of the contract price, it is cheap insurance to insure you get a completed job, if the contractor doesn’t finish. Your attorney or insurance agent should be able to recommend a good bonding company in Cleveland.
Three basic types of roofing contractor’s contracts
The price includes all labor and materials, all agreed upon in advance. This is best way to control costs.
A contractor charges a fixed fee plus the cost of labor and materials. You are rolling the dice to save a few bucks if things go well, but watch out if they don’t.
Time and Materials
The same as the cost plus with the exception that the fee is calculated on the number of hour worked. This plan can leave you broke. Stay away from it.
You should be able to write a contract that keeps your down payment to 10% to 15%, half the remainder midway through the project and the remainder at completion of the project to your satisfaction.
If your contractor starts without a permit, stop him. He is responsible for obtaining all necessary permits; don’t collude with him to avoid delays. It is you, the home owner, who will pick up the tab of any fines or infractions. Obtaining the permit yourself could also limit the contractor’s liability. Also, don’t let any contractor start a job without proving to you they have both liability insurance and workers compensation for his employees, and check them out with a call to the proper agencies.