At some point in a homeowner’s life, a roof needs replacing. This is something that most of us go through maybe only once in a lifetime. It is not a common occurrence as even the most economical roofing materials are designed to last 20 years.
As a result of this limited exposure to roofing, the average homeowner knows very little about the subject and must rely heavily on the aptitude and honesty of their chosen roofing contractor.
While most roofing contractors are on the up and up, there are still quite a few out there willing to cut corners to maximize their profits. In my career, I have seen many ways unscrupulous contractors operate.
Here are my top 3…
3. Switching Roofing Materials
After much consideration, a homeowner has decided that they want a premium architectural asphalt shingle roof installed. With that, they want a 30# felt underlayment with ice and water barrier installed in the valleys. – That is a great choice and worth the extra money IF that is what is installed.
Unless the homeowner physically checks the materials that are delivered and somehow monitors the progress of the job it is possible for the unscrupulous roofing contractor to switch these materials. Once the roof is installed it is very difficult for the average homeowner to tell the difference between a premium and an entry level architectural asphalt shingle. It is also nearly impossible to know the weight or type of underlayment used and no way to know if the ice and water barrier was actually used.
How can you protect yourself? Verify the materials delivered, monitor job progress in some way. Maybe ask the contractor to take photos of each stage.
2. Reuse Existing Materials
It is logical for a homeowner to think that a new roof means a new roofing system. Unfortunately this is not always the case. A shortcut that some roofing contractors take is to reuse some components of the roofing system. In particular, the flashings and underlayment.
It is fairly easy to remove the shingles while leaving the old underlayment in place. Some roofers do this to save time and money. The two main problems with this is that, 1. – The underlayment is now riddled with holes and 2. – The roof deck was not properly inspected for damage.
Similarly with flashings, some roofers choose to simply leave the existing flashings in place and just dress them up with new caulk. Again, this is used to save time and money. The risks here are that the flashings may have holes or rust that can severely effect their reliability.
To protect yourself, ask your roofing contractor to provide photos of the exposed roof deck without the felt and request that the roofer to show you the old flashing that they removed to replace.
1. No Worker’s Compensation Insurance
This is the really, really BIG one!
Most homeowner’s do not know that if an agent of the the roofing contractor is injured on the homeowner’s property and the contractor does not have worker’s compensation insurance then they, the homeowner, could be held responsible for the medical expenses and lost wages of the injured party. Amazingly, most homeowner’s never ask us if we have worker’s compensation insurance. Those that do ask almost never request verification of such.
Protect yourself, insist that the contractor provide proof of insurance to you. Ask them to have their agent send you a certificate of insurance that you can keep for your records and your protection.
If you’re considering a new roof, remember these three things and do your homework when selecting your roofing contractor. Price is important, but try to understand the differences between the contractors and what they are offering. If you’re average, you’ll only do this once or twice in a lifetime. Take the time to do it right.