We all need a roof over our heads, but none of us look forward to repairing or replacing our roof shingles. When your roof begins to fail, you can’t afford mistakes or delays. Since few homeowners are qualified to make repairs, you’ll need to find reputable roofing contractors. If your leaky roof needs professional help, don’t panic. Grab a bucket, take a deep breath, and consider your options.

How can you find reliable residential roofing contractors?

It seems like every guy who owns a truck, a hammer, and a ladder advertises “expert roof repairs.” To locate a real expert, use these resources:

  • Recommendations from friends, co-workers, and neighbors
  • Print media advertising
  • Local and national websites
  • Referrals from roofing suppliers

If someone you trust has had a good experience with a roof repair contractor, that’s a great place to start.

Contractors with big advertising budgets can be a safe bet, but the largest roofing firms often charge premium prices.

Roof Contractors Association

Make the best use of Internet resources. Start with the National Roofing Contractors Association. There, you can find helpful information and search tools. In addition, search the web for “roofing contractors + [your town or city]” for more options. You’ll see different results and related information for each search.

Roof Contractor Referrals

Ask for referrals from the contractors’ desk sales staff at a nearby building materials supplier. They know their best clients – which ones are steady customers AND pay their bills. This can be a smart way to find good roofing specialists who don’t advertise.

Once you have a list of potential contractors, narrow your choices:

  • Avoid big commercial roofing firms, unless they feature the word “residential” in their ads
  • Phone or email roofers to see which companies answer quickly and professionally
  • Be wary of contractors who are vague about how soon they can meet with you
  • Ask for one or two referrals of local, recently-completed jobs, so you can take a look
  • Choose your best three or four prospects, and invite them to quote your job

When a roofing salesperson arrives, what questions should you ask?

Promptness and appearance help indicate a reliable contractor. A presentable, on-time estimator gets high marks right away. For those who pass this test, tell them you want an estimate, not pressure to buy. Your sales rep should give you confident, knowledgeable answers to these questions:

  • Will you need a building permit?
  • If a license is required in your area, do they have it
  • How long has their company been doing business in your town? Is roofing their specialty, or a sideline?
  • Are their crews employees or subcontractors? Pay attention to how your estimator answers, since both approaches have pros and cons.
  • Will they provide proof that they carry the appropriate insurance?
  • Will they supply written specifications, contract/quotation, and warranty information? Never rely on verbal promises.
  • What options or upgrades (in materials, for instance) should you consider? Are there design concerns regarding your roof?
  • How soon would work begin?
  • How long would the job last?
  • What happens if bad weather interferes?
  • How will debris and plant protection be handled?
  • What is the total estimate, and is financing available?

Analyze the written proposals you receive, and opt for the BEST bid overall rather than the lowest price. Treat your chosen contractor with honesty and respect. Coordinating roof repairs is neither fun nor glamorous. However, if you do your homework and hire a well-qualified roofing contractor, you can pleasantly ignore the roof over your head for years to come.