What You Need To Know Before Hiring a Roofing Contractor in Phoenix
Now that summer is here, many people in the Valley of the Sun are looking at hiring a new roofing company. And as a roofing contractor in Phoenix for over 15 years myself, I have heard my share of nightmare stories from homeowners. Horror stories range from basic roof leak repairs to full-on reroofing projects gone horribly bad.
So I thought I’d share a few tips and essential things you need to know in order to make your experience hiring a roofing contractor as safe, pain-free and beneficial as possible -and steer you away from the many pitfalls and dangers that come with a bad contractor experience.
Here are a few tips to help you avoid an unpleasant roofing experience with your local contractor – and how to ensure they choose the best materials for the job.
HOW TO SELECT A ROOFING CONTRACTOR
Make Sure They Are Licensed Roofing Company
This is your first and most important consideration when choosing a roofing contractor to work with. Most roofing contractors in the area are licensed, upstanding professionals…but there’s always a few bad apples (who tend to pop up right after storms or other disasters, when roof repairs are in high demand).
Get their license number and look it up. You should be able to find any complaints filed against them in the past 3 years; this will give you a sense of how good their work is, what their reputation is like, and if they’ve had any major problems on a project in the last few years. You can also see their bond amount and if their license has ever been suspended – and when it expires.
Remember: You can never be too careful when it comes to protecting yourself and your home.
Are they Insured?
All good, licensed roofing contractors in good standing will have commercial liability insurance and worker’s insurance – in case anything happens to your roof or to their crew while they’re up there. But there’s always someone who tries to skip out on this requirement; in the past, small crews weren’t even required to carry worker’s comp insurance.
But it’s essential. You shouldn’t hire any roofing contractor without good insurance. Feel free to ask for proof of insurance, too.
If you know anyone who has had their roof repaired or replaced recently, you can ask them for referrals or references for a contractor they’ve worked with. And if you’ve found a contractor you really like but want a bit more in the way of assurance, you can ask them to provide you with a list of references or contacts for projects they’ve already completed.
If you want to REALLY know their track record, ask to learn about projects that happened two or three years ago. This will allow you a better idea of how their work holds up over the long run and how satisfied customers are with it now.
Use Social Media
Social media is also a great resource when looking to verify the credibility of the roofing company you are considering. Don’t trust stale and controlled reviews that are prominently displayed on the company’s website; instead jump over to social channels like Yelp! and Google Maps. These social channels are open source and non-biased, meaning, they are not controlled by the companies themselves — anyone can voice their opinion on the company through these channels; good, bad, or otherwise.
Ask For A Installation Warranty
Good roofing contractors (like Estrella Roofing 🙂 almost always offer warranty on their roofs – in addition to the manufacturer’s warranty offered on the materials and shingles they use. In many places, these warranties are even required for a contractor to do business.
In Arizona, such warranties are usually for One Year after the project completion – but the best contractors usually offer warranties of 2 years or more.
Ask if they Sub-Contract Out their Projects
Subcontracting is actually a very common practice in roofing. While there isn’t necessarily anything wrong with that for larger projects, it’s important that the subcontractors they work with are licensed, bonded and insured – just like the main contractor you hire. If they do work with subs, be sure to ask for proof of insurance and licensing, as well as references and any applicable info you can use to check up on the subcontractor’s reputation and track record.
Also be sure to ask how the process works and what they do to ensure quality workmanship during the whole process. Will the contractor manage the subcontracting crew onsite, themselves? If not – be wary. You want to work directly with the contractor you hire and be sure that the entire project is carried out properly.
They should also submit subcontracting as part of the entire project bid.
That point also segues to the next one: who is directly overseeing your roofing project? Ask the contractor. You want your roofing project to be overseen by the owner of the roofing company, the manager of the company, or a trained (even licensed) project manager.
If they tell you that don’t oversee their crews directly, you should be wary. While hopefully the crew is professional, experienced and well-trained…having direct supervision by the top figures in the company is the best way of ensuring a thorough, quality job.
Will They Install Roof Edge Metal?
If you’re getting an entire new roof, you likely need to install drip-edge or edge metal on the roof to make the roof compliant with local codes.
Edge metal is placed under the shingle, where it extends off the edge of the roof. This allows runoff to flow directly into the gutters, instead of behind them and down the wall, to better protect the fascia and the siding. Without this…you’ll likely run into some problems with water damage on the siding over time.
Edge metal is exposed to and susceptible to high winds, so it’s also needs to be ES-1 certified and compliant.
While edge metal is so integral to a keeping a tight, leak-free roof…some contractors have been known to skip over this important step. Ask about it before hiring and make sure it is included.
Make Sure to Get a Proposal or Quote in Person
This is hugely important. You want your contractor to come to the property, inspect things in person, and go over the quote part-by-part, breaking it down for you and giving you all the dirty details?
Make sure you get it in writing – and make sure they don’t give it over the phone.
No one can give an accurate roofing estimate over the phone – they need to see everything in person and inspect it thoroughly. If any contractor tells you otherwise or tries to quote over the phone…run. Far away.
And don’t let them drop it off, either. You want them to give it to you in person so they can break down the price accurately and go over the whole scope of work and materials included with you. You need this to make sure they are being fair and accurate with every step. Additionally, you’ll want to touch up your vocabulary of commonly used roofing terms.
Don’t feel like you have to go with the first contractor you find who passes the smell test. Talk to 3 at a time, get quotes, and narrow it down slowly to the best contractors you can find. Just don’t get too many; more than a few quotes can make choosing difficult, thanks to the principles of analysis by paralysis.
Choosing the Right Materials
Your new roof is one of the largest home investments you will make. It’s also one of the few home improvement investments that can deliver ROI upwards of 80%.
A poorly installed roof, however, will likely not give you any real ROI: improperly installed roofs usually aren’t covered under warranty, which can diminish the expected lifetime warranty.
Know the manufacturer’s warranty.
Understanding how roofing warrantees work is important for two reasons. First, it can help you decide which roof type to select. But it can also help you understand how the manufacturer recommends that roof be installed. You want to be sure that the roofing contractor you hire installs your new roof in line with the manufacturer’s own specifications.
Ensure the Roof Has Proper Ventilation.
If your roof doesn’t have a minimum amount of roof or soffit vents, it should be brought to your attention – this affects the lifetime of the roof.
SELECTING THE CORRECT ROOFING TYPE
Once you have chosen the roofing contractor who is going to help install your new roof, it’s time to look at some of the most common roofing materials.
Roofing Material: Asphalt Shingles
Asphalt shingles are the most commonly used roofing materials, mainly due to their low cost. They are the most inexpensive material you can choose to complete your reroofing project.
That doesn’t mean they won’t last, however. If installed and maintained properly, asphalt shingles can last from 20 to 40 years. I advise opting for ones that are rated at 30 years+; they are usually made of organic materials, which are good for the environment.
If you live in Arizona, color is also an important consideration. The Arizona sun is unforgiving and can be hard on these organic materials; darker shingles absorb more light and heat, this fading and breaking down much faster than lighter-colored shingles.
Roofing Material: Slate and Ceramic Roofing
If you’re looking to upgrade the appearance of your home’s exterior, you may want to look at slate.
Slate delivers a very natural look, is practically fire proof, and doesn’t rot in the Arizona sun (which can’t be said for most other roofing material types).
It’s also it is the easiest roof type to maintain, and a well-taken care of slate roof can last upwards of 100 years. And, since slate comes in many colors and styles, you’re sure to find a perfect fit for your home.
Downsides of Slate Roofs
Slate roofs can be a little pricey, especially when compared to shingle roofs; it is also more difficult to install than shingles. Another concern is how heavy they are; you want to be sure that your roof can accommodate.
Ceramic tiles share many of the same advantages and disadvantages of slate roofs – but ceramic is even more fragile.
Roofing Material: Metal Roofing
Metal Roofing usually refers to any type of aluminum, steel or copper roofing. You can expect most steel roofs to be coated with a mixture of aluminum or zinc, which makes metal roofing stand up to corrosion much better than any other type of roofing.
Metal roofing also boasts a very large selection. From seam and batten to shingles, shakes, tiles to many color and style options you have full toolbox to choose from.
You can expect to pay a lot more for metal roofing materials, when comparing them to asphalt, but you can also expect them to last to three times as long.
Roofing installation also plays a big role in your roof’s potential lifetime. Finding a competent licensed roofing contractor and selecting quality materials is imperative.
Proper ongoing upkeep can extend the lifetime of your roof.
This consists of keeping the valley of your roof clean including gutters. The buildup of leaves and debris will decrease the lifetime of your roof. Many people often overlook the importance of cleaning the roof’s gutters. When the gutters become clogged you can assume that water is backing up and keeping your roofing tiles/shingles moist longer than necessary. Granted, this isn’t as a big of an issue for us here in Phoenix, but it’s still important to keep your roof free of buildup and debris.
Lastly, a properly insulated and vented attic will help extend the lifetime of your roof. One more final tip: make sure that your roof is only walked on when necessary – especially if you have a tile roof.
Best Practice Tips by Juan Leon Lopez, Owner of Estrella Roofing in Phoenix, AZ
Here at Estrella Roofing we strive to be the preferred roofing contractor for residential and commercial roofing. I personally facilitate each bid and/or project. I have done business this way since I began Estrella Roofing Company over six years ago. It’s this approach, and dedication to customer satisfaction that has powered much of the growth we have seen over the last three years. Contact me today for a free quote or consultation. I look forward to speaking with you.