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How to choose a roofing contractor: Insider tips from a manufacturer

Updated: Jan 10, 2020

As a metal roofing manufacturer, our company interacts with a large pool of contractors and installers every day. We also see a high number of homeowners who are in need of an installer for their metal roofing project. A correctly installed metal roof will look beautiful and give you a lifetime of performance with minimal maintenance, likewise, a poor install may look okay to the untrained eye but will leave you dealing with a long line of leaks and costly repairs. Through the years I've seen many people's dream roof turn in to a nightmare because they didn't properly vet their installer. This is why choosing the right contractor is one of the most important steps in the process of purchasing a new roof. It's common knowledge that you should check to see if your installer is licensed, bonded and insured, most people will even take the time to check a few references. As a manufacturer, here are a few insider tips I would recommend following as you go through the selection process.

1. Ask your supplier for their recommendations.

This is often a good starting point. If you're dealing with a reputable material supplier they likely have a network of qualified installers that regularly purchase their product.

(Side note: I always recommend homeowners seek out a material supplier and educate themselves on the product first. This ensures you will get the best price on the material, and be informed throughout the entire process.)

A common scenario is that your supplier will give you two or three contractor options. Typically what happens is the homeowner will call all of the options they were given and then select the lowest price. While that may work sometimes, I wouldn't recommend making your decision that way. A reputable supplier will stop recommending a contractor if they receive reports of poor installation or bad business practices, however, these incidents are not always reported back to the supplier which is why it is crucial that you thoroughly vet these recommendations on your own, and not simply choose the lowest labor price.

2. Ask your contractor if they are Factory Certified.

At Best Buy Metals we hold regular Contractor Certification Courses free of charge. These courses allow metal roofing contractors to learn our recommendations on how to properly install the products that we manufacture. When a contractor completes this course we give them a Factory Certification that shows they have received this training. It is ultimately up to the contractor on whether or not they follow our recommendations but it's a good sign that your contractor cares about doing things the right way if they took the time to go through the certification course.

3. Educate yourself on the product and ask your installer questions.

Some people feel like they're going to give a bad impression or come off as a know it all if they start quizzing their contractor. While I never advocate being unnecessarily abrasive, you have a right to know how your roof is going to be installed, after all, you are the one paying for it and a good installer will gladly take the time to reassure you of their quality of work. This is another reason I recommend homeowners getting involved with the material supplier. A good metal roofing supplier will take the time to educate you on types of material, necessary parts and components, and best installation practices. If you take the time to educate yourself you are far more likely to see red flags with your installer before anyone starts tearing your roof off.

4. Ask your contractor if they will be outsourcing to a subcontractor.

There is nothing inherently wrong with your installer using a subcontractor, but it may indicate that they don't plan to be the one actually doing the work. If this is the case, it will be important that you are able to see the quality of work from the crew that will be on your roof. Is the subcontractor as qualified as the contractor you're talking to? Will your contractor be on site at all? If not, will a project manager be on-site? Have they received factory training? Ask your contractor for pictures and references from previous jobs using their sub. A quality contractor will be quick to show you a history of satisfied customers.

In conclusion, use common sense and trust your gut when you're interviewing contractors. If someone seems qualified for the job but you don't feel completely comfortable with it, pass! There are plenty of qualified contractors out there, don't settle. Your roof protects one of your greatest investments, your home. Take the time to go through the process the right way. Happy roofing!

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