As a professional roofer, I put together a little guide to help you how to select a good roofing contractor. This is my professional opinion, and I am hoping that this will help your search on how to choose a roofing contractor.
Know the risks
It’s important to protect yourself and your home before starting a home renovation.
Problems with home renovations are among the top consumer complaints in Ontario. In 2015, the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services received approximately 1,600 complaints and inquiries about home renovation services – 21% were related to roofers.
If you need to hire a roofer, knowing the risks will help you avoid things like scams, poor workmanship and legal liability for an injured worker.
Protect yourself as a consumer – before work on the roof begins.
Research roofing contractors
Roofing contractors are not licensed by the government but, with a little research, you can find a reliable roofing contractor. Start by:
- asking friends and family for recommendations
- considering local businesses, so you can easily check their references
- Looking on google maps that will list the local roofers in you aria
- for any complaints and charges against the roofing contractor on the Consumer Beware List
Get a quote
Ask for a quote from at least three different contractors by a certain date. A quote is a written estimate that should include:
- a clear and complete description of the work to be done
- an itemized list of the materials to be used. This is important because it is how you can see the differences between good and bad roofing contractors.
There is a 6-step system that should be followed in the quote
- 1 Eave protectors… Installing a waterproofing membrane at the eaves will protect against the ice that builds up during winter freeze/thaw cycles.
- 2 Underlayments… High-performance lined asphalt saturated felts, synthetic or anything equal or greater provides secondary protection from water driven under the shingles by high winds.
- 3 Starter strip shingles… Installed at the bottom, before the first row of shingles to provide a excellent protection against wind blow off and water infiltration.
- 4 Drip Edges… Installing new drip edges is important it keeps the water from going back under the shingles protecting your decking.
- 5 new air vents… The air vents help circulate the air movement in the attic and prevent hot spot’s.
- 6 Shingles… Assure maximum protection. When considering a choice between shingles or a metal roof, know that today’s shingles are as good as metal roof if they are installed properly.
Compare the quotes you receive before making your decision.
You may have a roofer in mind for the job, but you should ask for – and contact – at least three references. Personally, I give my references with my estimates. These are people who have personally hired and dealt with the contractor. If the contractor refuses to provide references, do not hire them.
When you contact the person from the references ask them if you could have there address so you could go and see the roof that the contractor installed. That will show you the quality of the workmanship the contractor has.
Ask about worker safety
As a homeowner and consumer, you can – and should – ask the contractor about the business’s health and safety practices.
You’ll want to make sure that each roofer that will be up on your roof is trained to work safely and will be wearing fall protection equipment.
Do not hire a contractor who cannot confirm whether they have trained and equipped their workers properly. Starting April 1, 2017, all roofing contractors in Ontario Canada must have a working at heights training card. So ask the contractor to show you his card which proves they’ve been trained to work safely at heights. If a contractor does not have the training card do not hire him because if he gets caught without it, the contractor will have expensive fines to pay and might tell you to pay or he will not finish the job. Please Protect your selfs
Currently, under Ontario law, roofing workers must be:
- trained to work safely at heights
- trained in workplace-safety hazards
- protected at all times when working more than three meters (10 feet) above ground
Create a contract
You have consumer rights under the Consumers protection act. It covers home renovations and repairs, including roofing.
In Ontario Canada, this law says when you and the contractor sign a roofing contract worth $50 or more in your home, you have the right to a cooling-off period of 10 calendar days. A contract signed in your home is a “direct agreement” under the Consumer Protection Act. During those 10 days, you can cancel the contract for any reason without having to pay any cancellation fees.
If you hire a contractor and they start working during the 10-day cooling-off period, you can still cancel the contract but you’ll be responsible for paying for any work performed and for materials the contractor used.
Anyone outside of Ontario Canada should look up the government site and look for the consumer protection act in their area.
What to include in the contract
Having a written contract is the best way to protect your rights as the consumer.
Make sure your contract includes:
- The contractor’s name, address and contact information
- A thorough description of the project with details of the materials to be used
- The quote, or written estimate with a thorough description of the work to be done.
- A work schedule, including start (after the 10-day cooling-off period) and completion dates, and details about how delays will be handled
- The total cost, including all applicable taxes, the terms of payment and the down-payment or deposit amount ( no more then 10% deposit is law in Ontario Canada)
- Details on how gardens and landscaping will be protected during work
- Who is responsible for the cleanup, once job is completed
- Who is responsible for damage that may occur to driveways, eaves, siding, screens and other parts of your property or your neighbor’s property
- A clear description of all warranties for materials and products to be used.
- An amount if any of the roof deckings would have to be replaced.
You should have 2 different warranty one for the roofing material has a warranty from 25 Years to limited lifetime warranty depending on the shingles you choose.
And the second is the roofing contractor warranty on the workmanship of the job that they did.
Spot a Scam
You can protect yourself by knowing how to spot scams.
Here’s what you should watch out for and do to protect yourself:
- If a contractor says your roof is damaged and needs repair, ask them to prove this with a photo of the damaged shingles, holes, etc.
- If a contractor asks for a large down payment “to pay for materials”, limit the down payment to 10% and never pay the full amount of the contract until the work is done
- If a contractor offers tax-free deals, you may not get a receipt, which is your legal proof of payment for services and/or materials without a receipt you have no warranty.
- If paying in cash, get a detailed, signed receipt from the contractor.
- Ask for at least three references if he can not give you references ask why.
- Ask for pictures of his work or address of some roof he has done.
- If the price of the job is a lot lower then other contractors in the area.
Questions to Ask a Roofer
- You should ask questions like: Do you have liability insurance and workman’s comp insurance ( WSIB ) in Ontario?
It is important that the contractor has this insurance in place. Contractor liability insurance can protect against injuries, accidents or property damage suffered on the job.
- Removal of the old roofing material?
Some roofer says that they could save you some money by not removing the old shingles, however, unless the old shingles are pulled up you will never know if you have soft spots or rotten wood beneath the current shingles. If bad spots remain behind you will have larger problems in the future and the shingle manufacturer will not validate your warranty. For this reason, it is essential that they remove the old shingles.
- Do you dispose of the old material?
Disposal bin for the old roofing material will be needed. The contractor you hire should bring a container to the job to dispose of the old material. You should not have to supply nor should you have to deal with the clean up once the job is completed.
- Who is responsible for any damage that could occur?
The contractor should be responsible for any damage that he or his workers might cause during the job.
- Do you provide a written estimate?
Without a detailed estimate, this can cause you problems in the long run. The point of an estimate is to explain the detailed of the job and identify the material that the contractor will be installing on your roof. The cost to do the job and what is involved. Our estimates will describe the work to be done, will describe the materials to be used, even going so far as to the number of nails. Believe me that a lot of work and time go into making these free estimate and that does not even guarantee us the job. Just remember that we work hard to obtain your business, and if someone does not put this time and effort on your behalf, do not hire them.
A good roofing job is all in the details.
Mark Tomassino owner of Toiture M-T-M Roofing
If you ever need a hand or have any questions, feel free to leave them below, and I will be more than happy to help you out.
All the best,