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10 Red Flags When Choosing a Roofing Contractor

The roofing industry has a not small amount of charlatans.  Some roofers are looking to hustle, some don’t know how to properly install a roof.  If you get stung by one of these types, you may find that you paid for a new roof that doesn’t work or the contractor vanishes when the job is only halfway done.

Every year, we see dozens of examples of homeowners getting fleeced by dishonest roofers, and it leaves them with a big headache and an even bigger bill.  We’d like to never see homeowners get taken advantage of, so we’ve put together the top 10 red flags that can signal when you should avoid a potential roofing contractor.

1. High pressure roofing sales tactics

 

A common practice in the roofing industry is for companies to hire salesmen who are experts at sales, not roofing.  They learn the methods of how to get a sale at a high price, and they know only enough about roofing to appear competent.

The tactic is used because homeowners often have anxiety and uncertainty when getting a new roof, and high pressure sales allows companies to get homeowners to agree to a price that they wouldn’t if they had more time to think about it.

Go with your gut.  If you feel like a roofing contractor is trying to pressure you into signing a contract, avoid them.

2. No in-person estimate with the roofing contractor

 

Estimates can be conducted without meeting in person, but usually good roofing contractors prefer to meet with homeowners.  It helps everybody get on the same page and have proper expectations so that the work will go smoothly.

Having no in-person meeting isn’t always a red flag because sometimes that’s just how it has to be done.  But a roofer can hide things from homeowners if they don’t meet together, and this can sometimes mean the roofer is not as reliable as it seems.

3. The roofing company is hard to find on the internet

 

Not having an internet presence can be a big red flag for a roofing contractor.  After referrals, the internet is the main way that customers find roofers.  Nearly all roofing contractors want to have internet presence because it’s how they’ll get work.  But if you look up a roofer you heard about on the internet and it’s hard to find anything, it’s a red flag.

Sometimes this means the roofer is very old school and works on referrals only, which is great.  But other times it means the roofer used to have a presence and they wiped it out because they kept getting bad reviews.

4. The roofer has few reviews or many bad reviews

 

Every company will have some amount of bad reviews, so those alone are not very telling.  However, if you notice a pattern in the type of bad review or if they seem to be more than the standard that you see from other roofing companies, it can mean something is up and you don’t want to stick around to find out what.

Few reviews usually means the roofer is inexperienced.  This isn’t a problem by itself — everybody has to start somewhere — but the roofing contractor industry is unique in that it has a somewhat low barrier to entry for new companies and one of the highest bankruptcy rates of new companies.  Roofing looks simple to many (but hard work), and some people with some roofing experience think they know enough to do an entire job right.  As it turns out, a lot of them don’t.  And their inexperience or lack of diligence can lead to the company’s bankruptcy and extra bills for homeowners who got bad work done.

5. The roofer has low years of experience

 

Typically you want to hire roofers with 10+ years of experience.  Many things can go wrong when doing roofing work, and contractors with higher years of experience have usually already had to deal with those problems and how to avoid or fix them.

Even then there are plenty of issues that a roofer with 10 years of experience still won’t have a handle on that a roofer with 30 years of experience will.  Sometimes the higher the experience level, the better.  A really low number can show that there is a bigger risk of problems arise during or after the job.

6. There is no roofing contract

 

There doesn’t have to always be a contract, and the handshake deal used to be standard in construction contracting.  Some old school, family and community oriented roofers who have been on roofs most of their lives will still do handshake deals.

But if the vibe you’re getting when meeting with a roofer is that there should be a contract, make sure there is one.

7. The contract is missing roofing shingle brand, warranty, plywood price, or clean up

 

Few contracts in the roofing industry are perfect.  Roofing contractors typically started out as laborers — the get their hands dirty type — not as businessmen.  So having a spectacularly detailed contract is typically not to be expected.

Even though the best contractors over the years develop pretty good contracts, there are 4 main components to a contract that can signal if a roofer is reliable or not.

You want the roofing shingle brand in the contract, otherwise you’re likely to get something installed on your house that is much lower quality than you would have selected.

A warranty can protect you and also indicate that the roofer is confident in his work.

Usually it is unknown how many sheets of plywood will need to be replaced until after the old roof is torn off.  If there is no plywood price on the contract, it can mean the roofer is looking to get a higher price from you after the job is done than you’d agree to before the job.

Clean up, removal of debris, haul away, and disposal are easier to overlook than most aspects of the job.  You’ve probably noticed that it’s common for some people to think that being 90% finished with a job is good enough.  Except it’s not.  If there’s no clean up in the contract, it can be a sign that the roofer has a habit of leaving too much stuff behind after he’s done.  A different scenario is if a fly-by-night roofer is unhappy for whatever reason, he may just leave all the old material on your lawn for you to clean up and dispose of.

8. The price for the roof is way too low

 

This issue is the most common sign of a high risk roofer who is likely to not do the job right.  Roofs can be a big expense for homeowners, while some roofers want to make a quick buck.

You should always get multiple estimates from different roofers.  If one of them is far lower than the pack, it can mean the roofer is planning to cut corners without telling you about it.  Or it can mean he doesn’t know how to do the installation right in the first place.

9. The roofing contractor is not licensed, bonded, or insured

 

These items are all basic legal things that protect the homeowner and the contractor both.  If a roofer doesn’t have one of these or isn’t willing to show you proof, it’s a big red flag.  He’s liable to take off if something goes wrong, leaving you holding the bag.

10. The contractor is not certified by a roofing manufacturer

 

Not all certifications are equal, but manufacturers try to not hand certifications out without enough vetting.  Big shingle manufacturers have reputations to manage, and they don’t want their names associated with bad roof work.

That being said, low-level certifications can be handed out too easily.  What you’re looking for with a roofer is a high-level certification, like GAF’s Master Elite.  This is the highest certification for a contractor in the roofing industry, it can come with the best warranty in the business (the Golden Pledge), and we’ve been a Master Elite contractor since 2011 — which is a rare track record of excellence.

 

If you live in the south Puget Sound of Washington State and would like an estimate to replace your roof, call us at 253.445.8950 or fill out our quick estimate form for a free estimate.

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