Roofers are almost a dime a dozen here on the Front Range. Unfortunately, those "roofers" aren't always roofers, they're just contractors or handymen that have told their customers that they can caulk and tar a few leaks here and there.
There's a couple ways to weed out the fakes from the bunch, but the most effective ways are asking them the right questions, and checking their qualifications.
Here's what you need to look for.
How to Choose the Right Roofer
1. Business Longevity - How long have they been in business?
Roofing can be an extremely difficult industry to get into. The "young" companies may be just
as skilled as the mature ones, but in our area, you need to look out for the "stormers" specifically.
During hail season, "stormers" pop up everywhere the damage is, but they're only temporary entities. They're here to reroof your property, take your (or your insurance company's) money, and leave.
One of the best ways to check and see if a company is the real deal or not is to ask how long they have been in business. Roofers go out of business left and right in Colorado, so a company that has managed to survive a couple years is doing a great job. Bonus points if they have more than two crews! Size matter, sometimes.
2. Reputation - Who else have they worked with? Do they have references?
Start-off by looking online. It's no secret that review sites can crucify companies for seemingly insignificant reasons. They're not always the most reliable source to turn to, but they give you the gist of an overall reputation if you take them with a grain of salt.
Once you have completed the initial pre-qualifications, asking them for references or other, personal reviews of their services is also a good idea. These sources can tell you a lot about what they do right, and are often more detailed than what you find on Google, Yelp, and Facebook.
3. Insurance - What kind, and what level do they carry?
As a general of thumb, a roofer should carry around $1 million dollars in general liability insurance. This may vary based on the typical size of their client, but should not dip below that if you are looking for professional services that have your property's best interest in mind.
4. Payment - Do they only take cash?
Fixing a leak on your building is not a drug-deal. There should be more than just cash and
Venmo payment options.
Roofers that are set up for larger jobs, and are looking to stick around for a bit, will have the ability to take checks, create invoices, break payments up, etc. Now, they may not CHOOSE to take all types, but the ability to do so is a key way to tell the level of company you are potentially working with.
5. Skill Set - Are they qualified to work on more than one roof type?
Niche skillsets are good for some technical companies, but roofing is not one of them. If a potential contractor is stating they are only qualified, or confident enough, to work on a single roof type, that should be a red flag. Professional roofers should have the ability to work with a variety of materials: shingle, tile, shake, TPO, EPDM, BUR, metal, etc.
6. Pricing - Are they unreasonably high or low for the work being requested?
Levels of insurance and the size of the company itself can have a major impact on the prices of jobs, but there is a range that most jobs fall in for a typical roofer. If someone you are qualifying is doing gutter cleanings for $15 a building, or roof leak repairs for $200, it's probably too good to be true.
Unless you are repeating work with a roofer you have used before, it is a good idea to get three bids for the job you are requesting. This should give you a good gauge of any outliers in pricing and scope of work that you may not have noticed unless you have previous working knowledge of the processes.
7. Repair Specifics - Are they going to do a typical repair, or are they upselling you unnecessarily? Or even cutting corners?
This may be difficult for some people who have no knowledge of roofing processes, but there is a way to tell if a roofer is worth their hourly rate by the type of repairs they perform.
For example, if you are experiencing ice damming on your roof, and the only option they pitch you is heat cable, you need to ask a few more questions. Heat cable is a tertiary step for these kinds of issues. Unless they specifically state that performing a gutter cleaning and increasing the size of downspouts and gutters will NOT work on this part of your roof, they're trying to sell you something you may not need.
This same thing can happen with caulk and tar roofers. They say they can fix your roof leak for $200, but what exactly are they doing for that cheap? Asking the important questions will never make a good roofer mad. There's no need to hide anything when you're proud of your process.
You have a ton of great options for roofers in the area, just make sure to vet them first. Not everyone is as perfect as we are.
The Roof and Gutter Guys