Story by Mimi Greenwood Knight
Installing a new roof is one of the most important home improvement projects you’ll run into as a homeowner, and an expensive one. While several variables determine the cost, a replacement roof routinely runs into the tens of thousands. The average lifespan of a roof in the Lone Star State — depending on the material type and workmanship — is 15 to more than 30 years. Well-maintained stone, tile, and metal roofs can last longer.
Considering the cost and value of a new roof, it’s important to follow a few basic rules when searching for a roofing contractor.
First, be aware there aren’t any official licensing requirements for roofing contractors in the state of Texas.
Anyone wanting to call themselves roofers or roofing companies can do so and start taking on projects. Your best bet is to look for local roofing companies with a good reputation and longevity in the business. Cheap roofing deals may be tempting, but buyer beware.
Before obtaining written estimates, ask a few questions to steer you in the right direction. Insurance is a must. Make sure a contractor has valid, unexpired worker’s compensation and liability insurance. (Workman’s compensation covers the employees on your property, while general liability insurance covers your actual property.) Don’t take their word for it. Ask to see proof of insurance for both.
Once you’ve narrowed your selection down to two or three contractors, get estimates. During this process, the roofer should discuss different roofing materials with you and provide good, better, best estimates. Inquire if the estimates include removal of the old roof and all trash materials associated with the project. Ask about the cost of plywood if a rotten roof or soft roof decking is discovered, and about how the contractor will protect the job-in-progress in the event of bad weather.
Always take time to get a description of the manufacturer’s warranty from the contractor, then get it in writing, read it, and understand the inclusions and exclusions. Do they match what the contractor explained to you? Some of the best cover material cost, labor cost, and even roof removal cost. Manufacturer warranties cover a material defect that caused the roof failure, but they don’t cover an improperly installed roof. Reputable roofing contractors often offer a workmanship warranty in addition to the manufacturers’ warranty because they trust the quality of their installations. Ask your contractor what they offer.
Before you sign on the dotted line, check your city to determine if your project needs a permit. If so, it should be pulled by the contractor, not you, the homeowner. If the contractor balks at this, keep looking. Also, ask the contractor for references from customers who have the same type of roofing system installed that you’re considering. Contact them to see if the contractor completed the job satisfactorily.
Being confident you’ve selected the right roofing contractor will help you feel comfortable and certain that you have a quality roof overhead — and that your hard-earned money has been wisely spent.