Selecting a Professional Roofer

Having a new roof installed is probably one of the most expensive maintenance requirements of owning a home or building.  You should be cautious and take enough time to select a competent, insured and licensed roofing contractor.  This is the first step to ensure a satisfactory job.

•You should check to see if a contractor is licensed.  Ask for his state issued roofing license number.  Contractors are required to have their license number displayed in their advertisements.  Do not confuse an occupational license with a roofing contractor’s license.  Contractors are required by Florida Law to be registered or certified by the Florida Construction Industry Licensing Board (CILB). By calling the Department of Business and Professional Board of Regulation at 850-487-1395, Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., you can check to see if a contractor’s license is valid and current.  At the same time find out if any complaints have been filed against him.

•By hiring an unlicensed roofing contractor, you violate a state law and can face civil penalties ranging from $500 to $5000.

•Don’t hesitate to ask the roofing contractor for proof of the insurance he carries.  In fact, insist on seeing copies of both his liability coverage and his worker's compensation certificates.  Make sure the coverage runs through the duration of the job.  Many building owners and homeowners have been dragged into litigation involving uninsured roofing contractors.  Also, if a contractor is not properly insured, the owner may be liable for injuries and property damage that occur on the property.

•The worker’s compensation law exempts the smaller one man proprietor and allows for the exemption of up to three corporate officers or partners, however, they must sign documents when they pull a permit that they are insuring themselves.  If this is the case, it is a  good idea for the homeowner to verify that such documents have been signed. Check for a permanent place of business, telephone number, tax I.D. number and where appropriate, a business license.  A professional will have these readily available.

• Ask for references and CHECK THEM. Check with other homeowners who are previous customers.  Check with your city or county building departments.  Be suspicious of a contractor who offers the fastest, cheapest job on a “you must act now” basis.  Poor workmanship and an unfinished job are often the result.

• Get multiple bids, at least three or four. Keep a healthy skepticism about the lowest bid.  If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  Many fly-by-night contractors seem attractive with their below-cost bids, but are often uninsured and perform substandard work.  Remember, price is only one of the criteria for selecting a roofing contractor.  Professionalism and quality workmanship should also weigh heavily on your decision.

• Do not accept verbal estimates or contracts. Be sure that you receive a clearly written proposal or contract that spells out exactly what will be done, the cost, and the payment method.  Before signing a contract for roof repair or replacement, read it carefully and make sure all blanks are filled in.  Make sure the contract includes the contractor’s name, address, telephone number, and state license number.  It should also have a precise description of the work to be completed and material to be used. Make sure that the contract specifies that the job site will be cleaned thoroughly, and that no debris will remain after the job is completed.

•If your roof is being replaced or repaired as a result of an  insurance claim,  take the written estimate to your insurance company adjuster or agent to verify the proper procedures to follow in order to ensure proper payment of the claim.  Your agent will also advise you if the repairs are covered by your policy.

•Make sure that your contractor obtains all necessary building permits. State law requires the contractor to show proof of worker’s compensation insurance at the same time the building permit is issued.  Require them to post the permit on the property before work begins. Never obtain the building permit for a contractor.  By doing so, you are acting as the general contractor responsible for overseeing and supervising the job and are the employer of every person working on that job site. 

• The homeowner may be required to obtain a “Notice of Commencement” from their local building department to post on the house itself before any construction work, including a re-roofing project, is begun.

• Beware of any request for unusually large amounts of up-front money before work is begun.

• Request a “Final Waiver of Lien” from the contractor upon making final payment for any project.

• If the contractor does not fulfill the contract, contact the Department of Business and Professional regulation at
850- 487-1395 to lodge your complaint or grievance.