Roofing 101

Ask the right questions about your new roofing system

Once you’ve decided to have a new roof installed, it’s time to go shopping. You’ll be looking for a roof that has the look and style you want, including color and shingle type. You’ll also be looking for a good local roofer and a roofing system that meets your needs and budget.

The questions you ask about your new roofing system and the roofing company that installs it will give you the information you need to make an informed decision:

  • How much of the work will be done by your own workforce? Most roofing contractors use a combination of their own workforce, a mix of subcontractors, and sometimes day laborers. Generally speaking, roofing companies that supply much of their own workforce are experienced, trustworthy contractors with a stake in their community.
  • If day labor is used, what specific tasks will they be performing? Many roofers hire day labor for shingle and debris removal, and tearing off underlayment. The installation of new roofing materials, including the underlayment or roofing membrane and shingles, requires an experienced, skilled roofer. This question helps you find out what tasks skilled laborers will be performing.
  • What type of roofing system are you using and how will it be installed? Roofing contracts can seem daunting with their contractor lingo and materials lists. Take the time to ask your contractor about and non-specific language in your contract that relates to the materials being used on your new roof. Ask for manufacturer names, product numbers and approval codes. Have your roofing contractor give a detailed explanation of the products they plan to use on your roof. Good workers installing inferior materials will still result in an inferior roof. Ask for the best your budget allows.
  • What is your current workload? No one wants to turn down a job, especially in the competitive roofing industry. A busy roofing company is a sign that they are probably a good roofing company. You want to strike a balance, however—a roofing company with a small staff and a big workload can put them in a rush. Use this question to let your potential roofer know that you are looking for someone who has the talent and the time to properly install your roof.
  • What are the warranty specifics? Ask if the warranty is a manufacturer’s warranty or the contractor’s. A manufacturer may not honor a warranty on roofing materials they deem improperly installed. Ideally, you are looking for a warranty on materials from the manufacturer and one on workmanship from the roofer.