In Southeast Michigan, or almost any other market for that matter, there are several roofing companies all vying for your roofing project. This usually makes choosing one a difficult task, and your apprehension to invite “sales people” into your home is not only understandable but justified. With so much competition a lot of them will resort to pressure.
The outline provided here will serve as a general guide. Each principle being outlined can, and probably will later, be detailed as a separate post to provide more in-depth information that will help you gain confidence in choosing a roofing contractor. Even just this high level overview will help you avoid getting taken or being subjected to pressure and sales tactics.
Establish the Roofing Contractor’s Credibility
This involves the following which we will highlight separately:
- Experience and company history
- Referrals and recommendations
- Reviews and testimonials
- Warranties and guarantees
One thing you should notice about the list above is that each item can be investigated without having to call the roofing company or making appointments for an evaluation or sales presentation. You can find out a lot about a company before contacting them to be sure you even want to contact them.
Experience and Company History
At first you might think the principle of seeking out only experienced companies is unfair to new companies. It’s not. Every good roofer gains a great deal of experience before they should be striking out on their own. A new company can be staffed with well experienced roofers, so just being new is not automatically bad.
However, the guy who thinks it’s a good idea to start a roofing company because he’s got a truck and figures “how hard can it be?” yeah, being prejudice against him is definitely recommended. And companies that are always changing names, that’s a sign of trouble too.
You see, for your roof to reliably last you decades, you don’t want to be hiring a roofer that won’t be in business to stand behind their work after the few short years that shoddy work is going to show itself as shoddy. That’s a defining feature of unscrupulous roofing contractors—they’re only in business for a short time and they usually offer bargain prices.
It’s in your best interests to hire only companies that have been in business for several years and/or those who have a proven track record.
Referrals and Recommendations
When you need a roofing contractor, you most likely already know someone else who has too. Find out about the experience they had and how satisfied they are. If you can’t think of someone you know, a bit of observation will help too. If you live in an area with very many other homes, you’ll see roofing projects happening around you.
On caveat on this particular principle though, it lacks the test of time that serves to reveal the real quality and performance of the roofing. It’s highly recommend you combine the principles being outlined here and not rely too heavily on just referrals and recommendations.
Reviews and Testimonials
What a roofing contractor says about themselves is not nearly as important as what their customers say about them. A certain amount of discernment is required though because reviews and testimonials have been manipulated by unsavory characters. This unfortunate perversion of what ought to be a trustworthy measurement of a company’s reputation makes reviews suspect.
The good news is the review process is still very reliable. Bogus and fake reviews tend to be just a bit off and will cause your instincts to tell you something isn’t right. Your intuition is amazingly accurate and you should not ignore it.
The other good news is there are independent third parties like Google, BBB, GuildQuality, Home Advisor, Angie’s List, Yelp, and others which are more difficult to manipulate. These review sites are not perfect and they get occasional press to demonstrate that, but you can still find out a lot about roofing companies this way.
Probably the most important thing to note about this principle is that reputable roofing companies will have a strong review presence online and the ones you shouldn’t be calling will find it hard to hide from a bit of due diligence on your part.
Warranties and Guarantees
Any reputable roofing company will guarantee their work. This should be a MUST on your screening list. But it is not to be given more weight than it deserves. The point about company history is crucial because a warranty or guarantee is worthless when the company you hired goes under due to poor quality.
Usually with any work to be done on your home you will be advised to get multiple quotes. Although that is technically accurate, it is a flawed focus. You are not best served by getting competitive bids, you are better served by “interviewing” roofing contractors. It is mentioned above that you have reliable instincts, use them during this part of choosing the right roofer.
Here are a few things to consider as you interview roofing contractors:
- Are they receptive to your questions and concerns? Although some cranky roofers may be very skilled, you want someone who is easy to communicate with so you can be sure the project will run smoothly.
- Does the roofer demonstrate a good knowledge of roofing and roofing products? Conducting a few interviews helps you better determine whether you are getting accurate answers or a snow job. A true professional will not be put off by your questions.
- Are they trying to pressure you? There are roofing companies that specialize in “one call closing” and that involves pressure… lots of it. The information above should help you screen out these companies in advance but also remember, reputable roofing companies aren’t desperate for work and don’t need to pressure you. Pressure is a sure sign you shouldn’t hire them.
- Are they providing you with pictures and/or video after evaluating your roof? In this age of digital cameras and instantly being able to show you on a device screen, it would be silly for your roofer not to be taking advantage of this technology. It’s doubtful you want to be climbing up on your roof. The logical thing for your roofer to do is show you the problems they will be fixing and how you can expect your new roof to protect you for decades to come.
- Is the price competitive? One of the leading traits of roofers you should not hire is low pricing. The more clever ones will keep their prices high enough to be less suspicious, but the costs of providing service are not magically lower for any legitimate company. Any good roofer can explain the pros and cons of options that will reduce your costs so you can make informed decisions, but just a low price is going to end up costing you more and providing lots of pain with it.
Between screening the roofing contractors you choose to interview and using your instincts during the interview process, you’ll avoid getting burned by someone running off with your deposit money, using it to pay for the previous customer and hoping a new one will sign so they can finance yours, or just getting a hacked up roofing job knowing you can’t see it anyway. You’ll feel confident in your choice and end up recommending them to others.
If you’re in our 7 county service area of Southeast Michigan, we would appreciate being included when you interview roofing contractors.