Whether you are building or remodeling, doing repair or replacement work at your home or business, it is imperative that an experienced & reputable contractor be selected. An owner who will commit/invest some time researching their project and potential contractors is more likely to make intelligent choices. An educated customer will make the process (from start to finish) easier for themselves and the contractor.
A professional contractor will want their customer to be comfortable and understand the complete process of the project.
Panic and mistrust are no fun for either party. Ask potential contractors the tough questions regarding their business and financial history. Be thorough and careful with your decisions. Many of the moisture and mold problems that are prevalent in our buildings are the result of improper system selection and poor workmanship by inexperienced contractors.
Experience & Performance History
A professional contractor will have thousands of hours of field experience and a thorough understanding of the project. Is your contractor proud of their reputation? If you ask your contractor about any legal or liability issues that may have occurred in the past are they open with you or full of excuses? Construction is difficult and dangerous work. If a problem does occur, a good contractor will address it in a prompt & forthright manner. There should be a documented history of many completed projects that are still under warranty. Can your contractor show a documented history of excellence from five, ten or even twenty years ago?
The contractor you select should use the best materials and workmanship that are backed by long term guarantees.
A job done right the first time is cheaper than the one that requires rework or repair. This is not a cliché, it is a fact.
Keep in mind that the building code is a minimum standard. Generally speaking it is a good system. However, there are upgraded systems and workmanship details that are not required by code. Some of these details or upgraded systems are critical for creating leak-proof, moisture free buildings. A professional, experienced contractor should have a complete understanding of these system details.
A professional contractor should not only be a good tradesman/field manager, but should also be well managed with their business and financial matters. There should be an excellent history of paying labor and material bills in a timely manner. An unpaid bill may come back as a lien or legal action against you. A contractor with a poor business and financial record may cut corners in the quality of materials and labor. This could put your project at greater risk for failure.
Always verify with the local or state governing agencies that a contractors’ license is valid and in good standing with no disciplinary action. If the license is in good standing with an excellent history, much of the homework has been done for you. Many states will do a background check of the license holder, checking the criminal, credit and experience history. It is important to still be very careful. A license is not a guarantee of workmanship or contractor performance.
An insured contractor will provide certificates of workers’ compensation and general liability insurance. The certificates should show effective dates and complete coverage for the trade or type of work to be completed. Proof of insurance is your protection if there is injury to person or damage to your property.
Your contractor should have zero tolerance for unsafe conditions at their jobsites.
The insurance provider should be the contractors’ number one reference. They can verify years in business and the contractors’ performance history.
There are many contractors who are not properly insured to do roofing (steep or low slope) but offer their services as roofing contractors.
There is no better way to determine the quality of a contractor than by their reference list.
A complete reference list will document the quality and performance history of the contractor.
Professional references from insurance, banking and material suppliers should be included. Professional references can help you verify years in business, financial & business performance, and if the contractor has had any serious liability issues or lawsuits.
The contractor you select should have an excellent history of customer satisfaction from all of their customers that dates back one to five or even ten to twenty years ago.
It is important to be very careful of contractors who handpick their references and testimonials.
Keep this in mind: A contractor can complete one hundred jobs. The contractor may fail at ninety of the jobs and have ten of the jobs successfully completed. This contractor will have ten customers who are happy to refer a contractor that has failed at ninety percent of its projects.
Before you sign a contract or any document, you will want to make absolutely sure that you are confident and comfortable with the contractor that you have selected.
If you feel any apprehension whatsoever, do not sign with the contractor and take the time you need to evaluate a final decision.
When you have selected your contractor, make sure all agreements are in writing. The contract should detail the work performed and materials to be used. The contract should also detail any extra, add-on or change order charges beyond the original contract amount. Be careful with down payments until work has started or material has been delivered. It is important that you understand your legal rights and the contractors legal and lien rights. Always seek legal advice with any contract issues that you may not understand.
What is the difference between guarantee and warranty?
The best guarantee is the one that is never needed. Do the job right the first time. Quality contractors understand that call backs are expensive. Call backs that are not handled promptly can bring detriment to the customer/contractor relationship or even worse it could ruin the contractors’ reputation. Again, do the job right the first time. Use the best products from the best manufacturers. Be fanatical in the engineering and installation of the system. Be one of the best. That’s our guarantee.
According to the 1985 Moss Magnuson Act, warranty and guarantee are close to the same thing. This is part of an answer we researched at WikiAnswers.com. It is important to understand any warranty or guarantee that is offered by your contractor. There is a saying: “A guarantee is only as good as the guy who’s offering it.” A long legal document or fancy certificate can mean nothing if the contractor has gone out of business. Roofing (and other trades) guarantees should be two parts. The first is the material/product guarantee. This guarantee protects both customer and contractor in the event of defects during the manufacturing process. The second is the workmanship guarantee. This guarantee will protect the customer in the event of installation errors by the contractor.
General Contractor or Specialist
Roofing - It’s what we do. We are specialists. Any roof type. Repair or replace. We are licensed as General Contractors and will handle special projects (insurance restoration, etc…) for select customers when it is related to a project scope that includes roofing.
More often than not we are hired as roofing contractors (specialists). Our customers are building owners, property managers & general contractors that require excellence. Our customers are experienced and have the knowledge that excellence in materials/systems, workmanship and performance do not always come with the cheapest price.
REMEMBER: When you hire a general contractor you are getting the complete package. If you are unhappy with a sub-contractor or a certain phase of the project you would most likely have to continue with the contractor.
A quality general contractor must have quality sub-contractors.
If you have multiple tasks/trades and minimal experience & time, a better decision would be to hire a general contractor. You will pay a premium for a general contractor to orchestrate your project. A general contractor (like any business) must profit or it is guaranteed not to be in business very long. Many contractors have gone out of business before completing their project (yours?).
A quality general contractor will have expert field experience and a thorough understanding of the project. The contractor will deal with the stress issues (scheduling, engineering etc…) and not create headaches/excuses for the owner.
If your property has been damaged by hail, hurricanes, wind etc.., it is important to be aware of the storm chaser/door knocker contractors. The first hours and days after a storm can leave a business/homeowner emotional and susceptible to an unethical contractor. Many of these door knockers will tout their expertise at extracting money from your insurance company. Be careful of those who promise something for nothing.
REMEMBER: The storm chasers’ are pros. Once you have signed, it can be very difficult to cancel your obligation to the contract.
Make sure your contractor understands roofing as well as they understand Xactimate (insurance restoration software). When large natural disasters occur, the work load can be overwhelming for the local contractors. Outside help is needed. There are many good, qualified contractors from all regions of the country. Take the time to find the right one. Be very careful of what you sign and the contractor you select.
AGAIN: There are many good,qualified contractors from all regions of the country.
Many professional storm chase contractors will “piggy back” with a local contractor.The storm chase contractor will buy out or give the local contractor a percentage of the profit to use the local business name, license and insurance to operate. This will give them cover and the appearance of being local and reputable. When it comes time for the storm chaser to leave town and if their quality of workmanship was not maintained, the local contractor could be overwhelmed with repair calls and/or liability issues and could go out of business. Many insurance adjusters will have a preferred contractor list. REMEMBER: Your insurance company does not guarantee the workmanship of your contractor.
Legal, Supervised Labor
After the project has been properly engineered & specified, the most important factor to the success of the project is the field supervision of the project. Issues with poor workmanship, mistakes, safety and customer dissatisfaction are almost always a result of poorly supervised field/crews.
It is the contractor’s responsibility to employ legal, documented & properly insured employees and/or subcontractors.
Illegal labor is most often thought of as the undocumented illegal alien. Illegal labor is also (legal citizen or not) a contractor/tradesman that does not have the required license, liability & workers compensation coverage for their business, employee’s or subcontractors. A contractor must have the proper insurance coverage for the type of work that they perform.
It is your responsibility as the owner to work only with legal & reputable contractors. REMEMBER: Failure to do so could endanger your family, home or business with unwanted legal & financial issues. Do not let your contractors’ promises become excuses.
The Final Word
Be thorough and complete with your research of contractors and materials/systems to be used at your home or business. Be organized and keep a journal of all the information you collect for your project. An educated customer will make better decisions and is more likely to be successful with their project.
Again: If you feel any apprehension whatsoever, do not sign with the contractor and take the time you need to evaluate a final decision.
Do not make a decision on price alone; cheap or expensive. There is a saying: “You get what you pay for”. Be careful. There have been many who have paid a premium price but received a poor product. This can happen in a booming economy or after large natural disasters (hail, hurricanes, etc.) when there is an abundance of work and contractors do not have to be cheap. The contractor you select should be one of the best. Being one of the best is a documented history of workmanship and business excellence.