15 Questions to Ask Before you Hire a Roofing Contractor

Roofing Tear Off
November 9, 2023

There’s no more denying it or putting it off. There are water stains on the ceiling. You’ve found a few shingles in your yard. There are birds, squirrels, or raccoons in your attic (or maybe all three, yikes!). Whatever the case may be, the signs are clear: it’s time for a new roof.

Finding the Right Roofing Contractor for the Job

Hiring a Professional Roofer vs DIY

Installing a new roof, or repairing an existing roof, is a big job and a big investment for your home. Working with a qualified and trusted roofer who understands roofing materials, safety, and building codes and requirements will ensure the job is done right. You’ll also have warranty options offering peace of mind that the roofing contractor will stand behind their work for years to come.

If you want to do a roof repair or roof replacement on your own, then you may want to check out DIY Roofing – but we highly recommend working with a professional roofer for whatever your needs may be!

Finding a Roofing Contractor Checklist

Most homeowners start with a list of about two to five roofing contractors, and meet with about two to three, before making their final decision on who to hire for the job.

Searching for qualified roofers online, or getting recommendations from friends and family, are two ways to get started on creating a shortlist of roofing contractors to consider but may not give you all the information you need to tell who is qualified and who is not.

15 Questions to Ask Before you Hire a Roofing Contractor

Basing your decision purely off recommendations or a gut feeling is risky without knowing all the facts about the contractor, so here are 15 questions to ask that will help you narrow down your selection and hire the right roofer for your project:

Can they provide an in-depth understanding of the company’s experience level in the roofing business? Think of this interaction with a contractor as a job interview. This isn’t necessarily asking how long they’ve been in business because many company owners started in the industry with other companies, but you’ll want to understand the total experience level of the contractor.

Does the contractor have insurance coverage? Your contractor should carry insurance to help protect your home from accidental damage. 

Does the contractor have a license or other credentials as required by the local municipality or state? You can always call your city administrative offices to get the requirements. Contractors can, and should, provide you a copy of their license. Check with your local Better Business Bureau organization to be sure the contractor has a clean record with no outstanding issues. From time-to-time all contractors can have issues with customers; the key is do they resolve the issues?

Will the contractor provide you with a written estimate? Your roofing contractor should provide an estimate that includes an accurate and complete description of the work to be performed, plus the products selected for your project. This should also include information on whether there is work that will be subcontracted out.

Does the contractor perform a thorough inspection of your roof? In addition to checking for storm damage, your roofing contractor should perform a thorough inspection of your current roof, including the deck, attic, flashing, chimney, soil stacks, valleys and other roof penetrations. This is the best way to determine the full scope of the reroofing job.

Does your contractor check for adequate ventilation? Does he/she explain it to you? Your roofing contractor should check the existing attic ventilation and explain the importance of proper ventilation. This should include inspecting your roof from inside the attic to determine if the current ventilation system is working properly. Improper ventilation can damage your shingles and potentially cause dangerous mold.

Will the contractor take the time to explain how a proper roofing system works? This should include an explanation of all the individual component parts and how they work together for the best roof performance.

Is your contractor able to explain performance differences in ice and water barrier needed for your roof deck? Depending on your location, your roof deck may require ice and water barriers to protect your home against either ice and snow, or wind-driven rains. Not only should your contractor be able to explain the difference in the products, but they should also be able to recommend the best protection in sealing your roof deck.

Does your contractor adequately explain your shingle style and color choices to you? There are many shingle lines and price ranges to choose from, and some shingles have specific performance aspects that may be required in your area (like solar reflectance or impact resistance). You should ALWAYS be given choices.

Does your contractor explain the difference between his/her workmanship warranty coverage versus the product manufacturer’s warranty coverage for defective products? There is a difference. And the contractor should be able to explain to you whom you should call with a problem.

Will they provide references for this contractor’s work? Most professional contractors are eager to share their reference list; you should call a few of them.

Is the contractor clear about when he can do your project? While things do happen to delay the start of your project (like the weather), you should have a general understanding of when you can fit into the contractor’s schedule.

Do you feel the contractor has a good communication style? Do you feel he/she takes the time to answer your questions and listen to your concerns? The bottom line is that regardless of the price differences between contractors, trust your gut about which contractor you feel will best fit for you and your project. If you are having difficulty communicating before the project, it’s probably not going to improve after you sign the contract.

Can they provide clear payment terms in writing? You should NEVER pay for the roof in advance. On most average jobs that will be in the schedule quickly, the contractor will expect you to pay a deposit, and will expect payment in full upon completion. A different pay schedule may be required for very large, complex projects. You should be comfortable with the payment arrangements.

Does the contractor offer financingSecuring funding for your project isn’t the only benefit of considering a contractor who can offer financing. It could also indicate that the contractor is financially stable because lending institutions typically require contractors to be vetted through an application process before offering financing options.