BBB Tip: How to hire a trusted roofing contractor to repair or replace your roof

No matter what the season, many homeowners are making the move to repair or replace their current roofs. Winter may be the best time to jump on a home improvement project like roof repair because of lower prices and available materials, but sometimes roof damage from a storm can result in the need to fix the roof or replace it.

The Better Business Bureau has tips to keep in mind whenever hiring any contractor to work in your home. You can find advice on everything from researching vendors, to getting estimates, to signing a contract and tips for hiring a contractor.

7 tips to consider when hiring a roofer:

Make sure you understand the full scope of the project. What exactly is the roofer going to do? Will they be doing spot repairs or replacing the whole roof? Will they be removing the old roof or covering it with the new roof? Ensure you understand the solutions' pros and cons and that everything is detailed in your contract.

Ask about clean-up and waste removal. Confirm that your contractor will be responsible for taking away all old materials and cleaning up your site after their work is complete.

Consider your gutters and landscaping. A roofing job will require ladders that can cause damage when leaned against your gutters or stuck in your landscaping. How will your roofer protect against damage or fix things after the job?

Plan for bad weather. What happens if there is bad weather while your roof project is underway? Ask your roofer about what they will do to protect your home in the case of rain or snow.

Check your insurance coverage. If your project is for fixing damage, check your homeowner’s insurance to see if your project is covered and how you should proceed if it is. You also want to check your contractor’s insurance coverage for worker’s compensation, property damage, and personal liability.

Different contractors for different roofing systems. Roofing contractors may be certified to install specific types of roofs. You can check with the manufacturer to see if your contractor is certified for their system.

Be sure you hire a contractor you trust. Check BBB.org to see if your roofer is BBB Accredited. Check reviews and make sure the company is licensed and insured.

Clearly written proposals that are detailed and broken down into separate line items are a good sign that the contractor is thorough and has prepared an accurate estimate. Your estimate or proposal (and later your contract) should include the following:

• The type of roof covering, manufacturer, and color

• Materials to be included in the work, e.g., underlayment, ice dam protection membrane

• Scope of work to be done

• Removal or replacement of the existing roof

• Flashing work, e.g., existing flashings to be replaced or re-used, adding new flashing, flashing metal type

• Ventilation work, e.g., adding new vents

• Who is responsible for repairing/replacing exterior landscape or interior finishes damaged during the work?

• Installation method

• Approximate starting and completion dates

• Payment procedures

• Length of warranty and what is covered, e.g., workmanship, water leakage

• Who will haul away the old roofing materials and/or project waste (e.g., extra materials, packaging, etc.)? Is there an extra charge for this service?

Ways you can help extend the life of your roof:

Clear dead or overhanging branches. Have a professional tree service evaluate the branches hanging over your roof and decide whether or not they are a risk. If the branches are dead, that increases the chance of them falling onto your roof. In addition, heavily shaded areas of your roof can retain moisture, which sometimes leads to mold. Regular trimmings of overhanging branches will help your roof dry uniformly.

Inspect for hail damage. After strong storms, especially hailstorms, have a licensed insurance adjuster or contractor inspect your roof. Dimples and cracks on the shingles are key indicators that hail damage has occurred.

Keep your eyes and ears open and remove debris. Homeowners should inspect their roofs regularly and monitor for hail damage. The homeowner can do ground-level inspections. You should also keep your gutters clear. If debris needs to be removed, call a professional or be very cautious when getting up on your roof.

Roofing scams often occur after a storm when a roofer “just happens” to be on your street and notices damage to your roof. Learn more about these so-called "Storm Chasers" at BBB.org/Storm. Another approach is to knock on your door and tell you they have extra shingles or roofing from another job and can offer you a good deal. Always look for the BBB Seal and do your homework to be sure you are hiring someone you can trust.

For more information check out our roofing HQ for all the help you need when hiring a roofer. Learn the steps to hire a contractor at BBB's home improvement HQ. Find trusted, vetted roofing pros near you and get a quote: Roofing contractors near you. Look for the BBB Seal. It's the Sign of a Better Business

Rick Walz is the President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Northern Indiana, which serves 23 counties. Contact the BBB at 800-552-4631 or visit www.bbb.org.

This article originally appeared on South Bend Tribune: Consumer Advocate: BBB Tips for hiring a trusted roofing contractor

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