A well-constructed roof can last anywhere from 15 to 40 years, depending on the materials used; but, alas, all good things ever come to an end. Sooner or later, just repairing the damage done by the elements will not be enough. When it's time to lay your old roof to rest, you will more than likely need to hire a contractor to do the work for you. This is both good and bad news for homeowners. The increase in home construction in the last few years has led to a bumper crop of roofing contractors and companies, but unfortunately, not all of them are honest enough or skilled enough to do this type of job. Here are some things a homeowner can do to make sure he has the best qualified person for the job.
Check with any of your friends, family members, or co-workers to see if anyone has recently had roofing work done on their homes. When something costs as much as having a roof replaced, people are more than willing to share their experiences with others. Most are looking either to praise work well done, or warn others away from an unsatisfactory company. Ask what company others have used, and whether or not the person still has the contact information. Before you call, listen to the previous customer's opinions, and ask some questions of your own. Find out if the workers were on time, and if they actually showed up to work a major of the time. Check if debris was left on the property; particularly nails or staples. Also make sure to ask if there were problems with the work or the contractors, and how they were resolved.
Once you have a list of recommendations, call each roofer or roofing company for an estimate. This should involve a thorough inspection of the homeowner's roof, not just a glance and a "guesstimate". Be sure that everything is written out, and that the candidate takes the time to explain any unclear details to you. When discussing the cost, ask about any potential extra charges, such as repairing damaged framing or materials that are already in place, and removing the shingles you already have. While the contractor is at your residence, take time to ask about his experience: how long has he been in business? Is his company insured and bonded? Also, find out if the insurance includes workman's compensation, as well as liability coverage.
Finally, once you are armed with a list of contenders that have made the final cut, contact the local Better Business Bureau or Chamber of Commerce in your area, in order to find out if any complaints have been made against the companies or individuals you are considering working with. Keep in mind that the mere fact that there was a complaint is not necessarily a sign of poor workmanship or dishonesty, so be certain to do your research and investigate the situation. Once you've decided on someone, ask about the types of materials they plan to use, as it is worthwhile to use the highest quality materials your budget will allow. Finally, find out if the contractor plans to remain on the project until it is completed, or if part of the work will be sub-contracted out to others. One person's work ethical and commitment to excellence is not necessarily the same as another's.