You’ve probably heard all the horror stories: contractors that balloon quotes, projects slow to complete, down payment requirements or projects that disappear altogether.
At West Roofing Systems, we have been called out to fix the work of less-than-reputable contractors on numerous occasions for roofs that were improperly installed, shortcut, or even left unfinished.
It leaves property owners and facility managers frustrated, high and dry with a leaking roof. We hate to see that happen. That’s why we wrote this article: to share some red-flag signs that the contractor you are talking to may not be the most reputable choice.
Why You Should Research Your Roofing Contractors
As with any service industry, you have good contractors, bad contractors, and people who aren’t contractors at all. As an owner/project manager, it’s important for you to take on your due diligence by researching and vetting all of your contractors and vendors.
The least expensive option may not always be the best option, and in most cases, the best value is the option that falls right in the middle of the prices. You not only want the service of the contractor, but you want it within budget, on time, and you want a long-lasting product.
When a roof is improperly installed or maintained, it could cost you more money than you saved in the first place, with work being redone and the potential damage the contractor causes to your facility.
Here are some red flags to look out for when hiring a roofing contractor:
No Portfolio/No References
You should always ask your contractor to see their past work. This shouldn’t be a problem for someone who is proud of the work they have done. Whether they are in the form of portfolios, case studies or project write ups; you want to make sure that not only have they completed jobs similar to your facility, but you want to see the type of work they do via photos and videos.
In addition to the contractor telling you about their work, ask for a list of references. Any reputable contractor should have a list of happy clients that you can call and ask about their experience. If you do get a list, cross check the information online to make sure it is valid, prepare a list of questions and make that short phone call. It may not be fun, but those few minutes could save you big dollars in the long run.
No Insurance/No License
Any reputable, licensed contractor expects to be asked by customers to see their license or letter of Good Standing up front. If the contractor doesn’t provide a license in the first meeting, don’t hire until you see it.
Also, hiring a contractor who doesn’t have insurance is risky. If the property is damaged, or someone is injured on your property, you will be held responsible. Liability insurance is important for your protection.
Most municipalities require contractors to provide a Health and Welfare Bond when registering as a contractor. This bond, as well as, the capability to provide performance and payment bonds is a strong indicator that the contractor has a sound financial portfolio.
The payment conversation should be made up front. Depending on the size of the project, there are a few ways a contractor may accept payment, but cash is usually not an option. And if cash is the only option, get away from that contractor right away.
Cash only payment should be a huge red flag; there are a few reasons for a contractor to only want cold hard cash from you…and most of them are no good. Always create a paper trail with quotes, bids, contracts, agreements, invoices, and receipts.
Also, make sure you review the payment terms you agree to. Never agree to pay up front in full; anything more than mobilization and stored materials up front should be questioned. Most quality contractors do not request payment upfront.
Any big purchase takes time; you have research, budgeting, planning and more. Any contractor with experience understands this and knows when to help and when to wait. You are investing in your facility, not purchasing a used car…and your contractor should act accordingly.
It’s a red flag is your contractor is pressuring you to move forward, make a commitment, or sign a contract that you are not ready for. It’s important to hold your ground and move your project along as you see fit.
On the other hand, a contractor should be available when you have questions or concerns. If your roofing contractor goes silent for an extended period, then reappears expecting a commitment….then you may have problems down the road.
Where to Find a Reliable Roofing Contractor
When you are looking for contractors of any kind, start with referrals! Talk to colleagues, business groups, and friends to collect names of contractors that are recommended first hand.
Your next place to find reliable roofing contractors is through the National Roofing Contractor’s Association (NRCA). The NRCA was founded in 1886 and serves as the roofing industry’s leading authority across the US. You can utilize the NRCA’s Member Directory to look up reliable roofing contractors in your area.
You can also take advantage of the Better Business Bureau. You can search for businesses that not only have a rating based on reviews, but you can find a BBB Accredited business that has gone through an evaluation with the bureau.
When you create a shortlist of contractors, schedule them to assess your facility separately. When the contractors are at your facility, make sure to show all of them the same problem areas (leaks, etc.) to make sure their quotes are based on the same information.
Investing in a commercial roofing project can be a daunting task. But by being prepared and asking the right questions, you can find the right contractor to deliver high-quality work for a good price.
Although it would be just as easy for you to choose a different commercial roofing contractor in your area, choosing West Roofing Systems as a turnkey roofing company will provide you with highly trained teams and award-winning service. Our services are flexible and diverse; we can recoat, repair or replace your facility’s roof so that it lasts decades.