How to Select the Right Professional Roofer
Replacing your roof can be costly, so you want to choose the right roofing contractor for the job. The five most important things you should check when choosing a roofing contractor are:
1.) Do they have a valid and active roofing contractor’s license?
Ask to see a copy of the license and check on the Florida Department of Professional Regulation website to see if it is active and if there have been any complaints at: https://www.myfloridalicense.com/wl11.asp
2.) Do they have worker’s compensation and general liability insurance?
Ask them to have their insurance company send you copies, then call the phone number of the insurance company or agent to verify that the insurance coverages are still in force.
3.) Are the employees fully employed by the contractor and not “sub-contracting” from the roofing contractor?
There are roofing contractors that sub-contract to others that are not licensed by the State of Florida. This is illegal. If they are subbing the work out, then more than likely those subs are not covered under worker’s compensation insurance. If someone is injured on the job, guess who may end up paying for the medical costs and more? You, the owner.
4.) How is the company financially? Do they pay their bills on time?
Ask the roofing contractor where they purchases their materials. Give the supplier a call to see how they pay their bills. Are they on time, late, or really late? You don’t want the material supplier putting a lien on your home or building because the supplier didn’t get paid by the roofing contractor.
5.) ALWAYS ASK FOR A WRITTEN PROPOSAL OR CONTRACT. WHEN THE ROOF IS BEING INSTALLED, MAKE SURE YOU ARE GETTING THE MATERIALS THAT THE CONTRACTOR SAID HE WOULD BE INSTALLING.
Only Hire Licensed Roofing Contractors
Your first step should be asking if the contractor is licensed in the State of Florida. Request their state-issued roofing license number. All contractors are required by Florida law to be registered or certified by the Florida Construction Industry Licensing Board, and to have their licensing number displayed in their advertisements. You can call the Department of Business and Professional Board of Regulation at 850-487-1395 Monday through Friday from 8:00 AM to 5:00 PM to check if a contractor has a valid and current license or find out if they have any complaints filed against them. You can also go to https://www.myfloridalicense.com/wl11.asp to obtain this information.
Hiring an unlicensed contractor is a violation of state law and you can face civil penalties and fines ranging from $500 to $5,000.
Ask for Proof Insurance
Insist on seeing copies of the contractor's liability coverage and worker's compensation certificates. Make sure the coverage runs through the duration of your project. If a contractor is not properly insured, you may liable for injuries and property damage that occurs during the job.
Smaller one-man proprietor contractors are exempt from worker's compensation laws and can have an exemption for up to three corporate officers or partners. They must, however, have documents signed stating they are insuring themselves when they pull a permit. Verify that these documents have been signed and check for a contractor's permanent place of business, telephone number, tax ID number, and business license. Professional contractors will have these items readily available upon request.
Rely on References From Previous Customers
Ask for references from the contractor and personally check them. Talk with other homeowners who are previous customers. Check with your city and county building departments. If a contractor offers the fastest, cheapest job on a "you must act now" basis, you should be suspicious of their services. Don't let a contractor pressure you to hire them immediately, as you'll most likely end up with poor workmanship and an unfinished job that you'll have to pay more to correct.
Also, ask the roofing contractor for the phone number of the material supplier. You can check if they pay their bills on time, or at all. This may help protect you against having a lien placed on your house if your contractor doesn't pay their supplier.
Beware of any request for unusually large amounts of up-front money before work is begun.
Get Multiple Bids and Get Estimates in Writing
Get at least three or four bids from contractors for your roof. Keep a healthy skepticism about the lowest bid — it may be too good to be true. These below-cost bids are often by fly-by-night contractors who are often uninsured and perform substandard work. Price is not the only factor in hiring a roofing contractor. You need a contractor dedicated to professionalism and quality workmanship as well.
Do not accept a verbal estimate or contract. Get a clearly written proposal or contract that spells out exactly what will be done, what it will cost, and what the payment method will be. Read the contract carefully to make sure all the blanks are filled in and that the contract includes the contractor's name, address, telephone number, and state license number. Ensure that the contract precisely articulates what work will be completed, what materials will be used, that the job site will be cleaned thoroughly, and that no debris will remain upon the job's completion.
If your roof is being repaired or replaced as a result of an insurance claim, take the written estimate to your insurance company adjuster to verify the proper procedures to follow to ensure proper payment for your claim. Your agent will also advise you on what repairs and services are covered by your policy.
If the contractor does not fulfill the contract, contact the State of Florida Department of Business and Professional regulation at 850- 487-1395 or go to their website at www.myfloridalicense.com/wl11.asp to lodge your complaint or grievance.
Know About Permits and Notices
Make sure your contractor obtains all necessary permits. State law requires contractors to show proof of worker's compensation insurance and general liability insurance in order to have a permit issued to them. Require your contractor to post the permit on the property before beginning work.
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 you are the employer of every person working on the job site.
As a homeowner, you may be required to obtain "Notice of Commencement" from the local building department to post on the house before any construction work begins on your property.
Before making a final payment on the project, request a "Final Waiver of Lien" from the contractor.