“80% of roofing contractors fail within the first 2 years. In 5 years, 96% are completely out of business.”— Small Business Association
Storm season brings wind and hail, but also brings storm chasing roofing companies from other states. It also brings an influx of brand-new roofing companies that may not have the professional credentials to do the necessary work for homeowners.
Father-daughter roofing contractors, Dave Laizure and Brooke Laizure, owners of Whirlwind Roofing & Construction in Bixby, OK discuss the most important things to consider when hiring a roofing contractor to protect homeowners, avoid headaches later, and to ensure a quality roof or home improvement project.
Verifying a roofing contractor’s license and insurance with the State of Oklahoma’s Construction Industries Board is the first step to vetting a company.
State Registration — In Oklahoma, roofing companies are required to file for registration. This is the first step to vet a company to repair a homeowner’s property. Visit the Oklahoma Construction Industries Board at https://cib.ok.gov/ to verify if the roofing contractor is in good standing and if the company’s registration is current. The site will also show the owner’s name, business address, phone number, and renewal date. The CIB number is required to be visible on vehicles, brochures, websites, and contracts.
Proof of Insurance — Ask for a copy of the contractor’s general liability and workers’ compensation insurance, and then call the insurance agent to verify coverage. Unfortunately, some companies obtain insurance to obtain a state registration number and will quit paying the bill, leaving the contractor, and homeowner, open to liability.
Years in Business — The SBA (Small Business Administration) reports that 80% of roofing contractors fail within the first 2 years. In 5 years, 96% are completely out of business. Roofing contractors that are still in business past the five-year threshold achieve their longevity for a good reason, by doing great work, paying bills on time, and serving customers well.
Personal Recommendations — Ask for recommendations on area roofing contractors, what the job entailed, and if the project is similar in scope. For instance, having a new fence installed is quite different than fabricating a custom copper cupola or replacing a roofing system. More importantly, ask about the customer experience.
Building Codes — Does the roofing contractor address all aspects of the roofing project? Common building code items include decking, ventilation, protection in the valleys, or adding drip edge to the wood fascia to protect the home from rot. These are simple things to include while installing a roof system that can save money later and protect the house from future repairs.
Photo Documentation — Request photos of the roof before and after work is completed. This provides documentation of the repair and proof that it was completed per the signed agreement. Too often, homeowners pay for expensive repairs that are not done correctly.
Warranties — Ask what labor and manufacturer warranties the contractor provides and if the company will register the warranty. Also check if the roofing contractor has any factory certifications. This means the company has received training and certification from the manufacturer to meet a stringent set of standards and can offer valuable extended warranties.
Insurance Claims — Insurance companies are notorious for leaving items out of an estimate, which could cost thousands in out-of-pocket expenses. Be careful about roofing contractors claiming to be insurance claim “specialists.” Ask if the company can explain each line item in the insurance paperwork and what is, and what is not, included. Verify if the contractor is certified to use insurance property estimating software programs such as Xactimate. Level 3 is the highest certification.
Storm Chasers — Hire a local contractor. Local companies will be here today, tomorrow, and for years to come. Does the roofer have an Oklahoma license plate on its truck? If not, the company may be here today, and gone tomorrow.
Door Knockers — Beware of roofing companies that flood neighborhoods after a storm. These types of companies tend to be aggressive and will pressure homeowners into signing a contract, and usually concentrate on quantity, not quality.
Deductibles — The biggest red flag in hiring a roofing contractor is offering to “absorb deductibles.” Although tempting, it is illegal and any contractor offering to do so is committing insurance fraud and endangering the homeowner.
No Brick and Mortar — Choose a roofing contractor with an office or product showroom. Roofing companies with a physical location have made an investment in the community and offer a safe place to discuss projects and review product samples and colors.
Tricks and Gimmicks — Be wary of roofing contractors offering too-good-to-be-true offers such as $1,000 off a roof or extremely low payments. Always read the fine print and ask for clarity on any special offers and make sure any verbal promises are put in writing.
Vague Estimates — Beware of estimates that are vague and only have a price and no details of materials or the roofing system to be used. Estimates should include photo documentation, terms and conditions, payment options, and “good, better, best” choices for the project.
Not Signing a Contract — Always get the details in writing. Contracts protect the homeowner and eliminate any oral promises and fluffy language that can be misconstrued.
Money Up Front — Be wary of roofers asking to be paid in full before starting work. However, it is customary for a local company to ask for half down prior to the job for materials and the rest after completion.
Excessive Google Reviews — Read the company’s reviews for authenticity. Hundreds of 5-star reviews without a personal testimonial is a sign of purchased reviews. Franchised roofing companies can use all its locations’ reviews, making the local company appear larger.
Source: March 2024 issue of Tulsa City Lifestyle magazine.