Is a roofer legit? Ask the right questions

Find The Best Roofing Contractor With The Right Questions

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The first thing every roofer learns — even before he learns how to properly install a roof — is how to answer the most common homeowner questions. If you go into the bid process armed with your dad’s hand-me-down list of questions, it’s unlikely that your list will flush out any true distinctions among the candidates.

To get a better feel for each roofer’s legitimacy, you must ask questions that can’t be answered with a yes, a no or a number.

Nailing Technique

For example, if you ask a roofer, “How many nails do you use on each shingle?” he knows the answer you want to hear is “four.” A better question is, “Tell me about your crew’s nailing technique,” and a better answer is, “We place the manufacturer-specified number of nails in each shingle, ranging from four on moderate slopes up to six on severe slopes. We also place the nails in the prescribed field, so you’ll never have issues with shingles sliding or blowing off.”

Insurance Up To Date

Ask a roofer whether he’s fully insured and he’s almost certain to say yes. A more effective question would be, “What happens if something is damaged or someone is injured?” The response you want to hear, of course, is something like this: “If we accidentally damage your property and the damage appears to be less than our deductible of $1,000, we’ll correct the problem right away at our expense. If it’s a more serious problem, we’ll put you in touch with our insurance agency. In fact, let me give you my policy number and my agent’s phone number right now, so you can phone them and verify my coverage.”

Roofing Experience

Ask a roofer how long he’s been in business, and he’s almost certain to give you a number of years, say 20. Unfortunately, too many consumers have found out the hard way that this often means he has one year of experience and he’s repeated it 20 times. Instead, ask the roofer to tell you about his roofing experience. This will flush out useful information, and of course, the sort of answer you’re looking for is, “I started out at John Doe Roofing in 1993. After apprenticing with them for seven years, I was hired as a foreman at Jane Doe Roofing. Then I started my own business in 2003. So I’ve got 20 years of roofing experience, of which about half has been on the roof and half has been managing my company’s reputation.”

You don’t have to know anything about roofing in order to come up with a useful list of questions. All you have to do is think of questions that give the contractor an opportunity to showcase his (or her) expertise.

As you listen, be alert for benefit-oriented responses. Finally, when the interview is over, ask yourself the most important question of all. “Is this contractor thinking about what he wants from me, or is he focused on what he can do for me?”