Choosing a Contractor

contractor checklist

Choosing a reputable contractor is a critical step in any major home improvement project, but especially when it comes to roofing. In order to protect your investment, it’s best to choose an experienced contractor that will deliver the highest quality materials, provide expert installation, and exceptional customer service before, during, and after the job is completed.

According to a report published by Clemson University, 80% of roofs are installed incorrectly. We didn’t believe it at first, either. The fact is, much of the roofing system is not visible once it’s installed, enticing contractors to cut corners knowing the customer won’t notice. This is a huge problem for homeowners who just want to make a smart investment on their home.

To help you find a trustworthy contractor, we created the following checklist which will give you the questions to ask to find a roofing contractor you can trust.

  • Does the contractor have a physical location, such as an office or showroom?
    To avoid signing an agreement with a fly-by-night contractor, check to see if the company has a facility. We recommend taking the time to visit if it’s feasible. A business with sound financials (which includes having an office) is more likely to have money available to make an expensive repair or replacement in the event of an improper installation.
  • Is the company licensed and registered with the state?
    Always ask for a copy of the General Contractor’s License prior to signing an agreement. Keep in mind that a General Contractor’s License is different than a business license.
  • Can the company secure the proper permits?
    Make sure you do business with companies that are able to secure the necessary permits for the job.
  • Do they carry Worker’s Compensation Insurance?
    Only hire contractors that carry worker’s compensation insurance for their installation crew. If a worker gets hurt on your property, you could be personally liable and sued if they are not covered by their company.
  • Does the contractor carry General Liability Insurance?
    Ask to see a copy of their General Liability Insurance. This will protect you financially in the event that the installation crew causes property damage.
  • Does the company have a reference letter from their financial institution?
    This important document from the contractor’s bank illustrates their financial stability, along with the bank’s judgment of the company. Insist on a copy of the letter to ensure that you’re working with a company that is reputable and financially stable.
  • Does the company have a Supplier Letter?
    The Supplier Letter is a document from the supplier of the products they are installing. If the contractor refuses to produce one, they may not be able to obtain the products they are presenting to you. Some companies mislead consumers and substitute inferior products after the contract is signed.
  • Does the company have solid references?
    Ask for references and take the time to contact them. Talking to past customers can be an enlightening experience and it’s a critical step when choosing a contractor.
  • Does the company have a good reputation?
    Check the Better Business Bureau website to see their rating and any complaints that have been lodged against them.
  • Is the company a member of any professional industry organizations or have they won awards?
    Membership in the Metal Roofing Alliance (MRA) or other professional organizations and earning accolades or awards are good signs that the company is a respectable one.
  • Is the contractor giving you an “Exact Price Quote” or a “Written Estimate”?
    An estimate, whether verbal or written, is risky. To eliminate expensive surprises, always ask for an “Exact Price Quote” that provides fixed cost per unit variables.
  • What are the company’s policies regarding changes to the agreed work order?
    Insisting on written change orders will protect you from miscommunication and costly add-ons.
  • How well do company representatives communicate?
    Work only with people that communicate clearly and concisely without providing pressure or circumventing questions. You should demand professionalism, courtesy, and exceptional customer service from every person you will be working with.
  • Does the company have a Worker Conduct Agreement?
    All workers should sign a compliance agreement that outlines expectations for worker conduct.
  • What type of training and/or certification does the installation crew have?
    Insist on using only highly skilled and highly trained master craftsmen who specialize in metal roofing. Metal roofing systems are extraordinarily complex and require a high degree of training, experience, and skill to install correctly. Focus factory certification and continuing education programs are paramount. Every member of the installation crew should receive certification from the manufacturer – ask to see a copy of their certification.
  • What type of safety equipment does the company use?
    OSHA now requires all roofers to use safety equipment including an anchor point, and OSHA compliant safety lines and lanyards.
  • What are the contractor’s job site clean-up standards?
    Do the installers sign a written agreement pledging to do daily job site clean-up and a thorough clean-up of the entire work site when the job is completed?
  • Does the company offer a “respect agreement” with their sales team?
    A respect agreement is designed to prevent salespeople from tricking or pressuring customers. Some companies insist that their sales team sign this agreement so they can ensure their customers are always treated respectfully.
  • Is a complete attic inspection conducted as part of the sales process?
    A complete attic inspection is critical to determining an optimal service plan. A thorough inspection may minimize future problems and unwelcome expenses. Inspecting and measuring the roof’s surface is not adequate and is risky to the homeowner. During an inspection, a professional roofing contractor will conduct the following:

    • Ventilation Analysis: This inspection evaluates the interior attic’s ventilation. A trained contractor will understand venting code requirements and ensure that the quote will be accurate. Proper attic venting will prevent mold and reduce energy consumption throughout the seasons.
    • Ventilation Inspection: Vents should be inspected to ensure you do not have open can vents and gable vents used in unison with a ridge vent.
    • Moisture Inspection: Professional roofing contractors will use a moisture meter to determine if there is a moisture source that may cause issues in the future.
    • Infrared Temperature Evaluation: Using an infrared heat gun, attic temperatures are checked and recorded at the eave and ridge.
    • Soffit Inspection: Soffit venting is checked for blockage. Since soffit is needed for intake of air, solutions should be recommended in the event of obstruction.
    • Exhaust Venting Inspection: Bathroom and kitchen exhaust vents are inspected to see if they are venting properly through the roof or gable wall and not into a soffit.
    • Structural Inspection: A visual inspection of rafters and sheathing.
    • Heat Source Evaluation: Ductwork and pipes in the attic should be inspected to ensure that there is no evidence of heat build-up or ice.
  • Does the contractor use permanent roofing materials?
    The use of appropriate materials ensures that the roof does not succumb to premature failure. Unfortunately, it is commonplace for many contractors to cut costs by not using the best roofing materials available, which include the following:

    • Premium Ice and Water Shield: On a project that requires a tear off, a premium non-granulated ice and water shield is needed six feet up from all eave edges, around all protrusions, and in all valleys.
    • Woven Synthetic Underlayment: Woven synthetic underlayment should be installed with plastic cap nails, not staples.
    • Interlocking Starter: Interlocking starter is necessary for high-wind certification.
    • Open Valleys: Closed valleys will allow ice to freeze around them, and will rip apart when ice and snow shift. Open valleys that are self-cleaning are vital.
    • Baffled High Volume Ridge Vent: They should contain 21 square inches of venting per lineal foot. (21 NFA)
    • Premium Sealants: The contractor should use premium sealants only. When used with modern ceramic finishes, silicone sealants will fail.
    • Non-Corrosive Metals: Steel will rust, regardless of what many contractors may tell you. The use of non-corrosive metals such as aluminum or copper are a better solution.
    • Energy Saving Finish: Heat reflective finishes such as Hi-R Kynar will provide you with maximum energy savings and longevity.
    • Hidden Fasteners: All installation methods should use hidden fasteners. Over time, fastened metal roofs with neoprene screws or rubber washers will fail and leak due to the UV light attacking the washer.
    • Four-Way Interlock: Metal roof panels should be four-way interlocking. These panels prevent debris and wind from getting underneath them. Overlapping panels collect unsightly debris.
    • Permanent Finishes: Select only metal roofing that has permanent finishes. Steer clear of inexpensive steel products that try to mimic asphalt by gluing granules to the surface. These granules will come off over time.
  • Is your new lifetime roof backed by the following warranties and guarantees?
    • Limited Lifetime Non-Prorated Product Manufacturer’s Warranty: This type of manufacturer’s warranty covers 100% of labor and material and is non-prorated. The limits are mostly due to acts of God.
    • Manufacturer’s 40-Year Transferable Product Warranty: This warranty should be non-prorated with no limit on the number of transfers.
    • 10-Year Non-Prorated Installation Warranty: A contractor’s installation warranty is covered at 100% and is non-prorated for a period of ten years. The limits are mostly due to acts of God.
    • Chalk and Fade Warranty: Look for a manufacturer’s 30-year chalk and fade paint-finish warranty.

If you would like more information on choosing a contractor for your metal roofing project, please contact McCarthy Metal Roofing. We’d love to discuss your options and give you our 3-step home inspection and exact price quote. After we meet, you’ll have all the information you need to make a decision on your new metal roof.


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