The Seven Questions To Ask Your Potential Contractor Pt. 2

Evaluating the Contract
Before you get to this stage, you will have received from the roofer either a job proposal or an estimate. Estimates and proposals can be very different approaches to your job.

What is an Estimate?
To simplify, an estimate will typically offer a single price, a generically described product, a color and no options. This is traditional and legitimate. But it isn’t consumer friendly.

What is a Proposal?
Simply put, a proposal is a tentative agreement for a project. It offers a choice of products by brand name, prices, services and even designs. Many other provisions may also be included such as change order conditions and financing options. The homeowner should expect three product choices. These could be presented in the typical range of good, better and best. Appropriate product literature and samples should also be offered. In conclusion, a proposal is consumer friendly.

Details, Details!
Most contracts for roofing work are simple and straightforward. The larger or more experienced contractors may have longer, more detailed contracts. Regardless of the form of the agreement, you should read all the specific items in the contract carefully. Misunderstandings are more often the cause of contract disagreement rather than actual dishonesty or incompetence. It is in your interest that certain items which are important to you be stated in writing in the contract. The following are some of the basics that should be covered:

Compliance with local codes and ordinances
Will they be observed?

Are permit costs included? Who will obtain the permit? What about provisions for posting zoning notices? Have inspections been planned?

Product choices
Have you been offered a choice of shingles? Are they identified by brand and manufacturer name? Is there a clear reference to the warranty which will cover the shingles to be applied? Is the manufacturer’s name for the color of the shingle you are buying stated in the contract? Do you understand the difference in the aesthetics from one shingle to another (including not only color but also texture, style, construction, reinforcement and UL ratings)?

Start and stop dates are difficult to pin down due to the unpredictability of the weather. But you can control exceptions. For instance, negotiate a “no-later-than” clause. Be reasonable but do make it clear that these terms will be enforced if necessary. If early completion is important, offer an award for completion by an early date in addition to a no-later-than clause. NOTE: Some state laws require a no-later-than clause.

This clause establishes a time period in which the homeowner can cancel the contract without penalty. Some states require such a clause in contracts. Check with your local authorities. Three days is usually the time given for a right-to rescind without penalty. If the homeowner cancels the job after the right-to-rescind period has elapsed, then the contractor may request a certain dollar or percentage value of the contract in return.

Manufacturer’s warranty specifications
Confirm that the Agreement states that all workmanship will conform to the requirements of the manufacturer’s warranty and installation instructions. Especially take note that this includes ventilation requirements, fastener
requirements, low slope installation terms and ice dam protection. All such terms are normally found on the shingle packaging or will be found on manufacturer’s literature available from suppliers.

Contractor’s workmanship warranty
Make sure this is clearly noted in the contract.

Call for a daily clean-up of the premises. This becomes very important if shingle tear-off is necessary.

Payment terms
Schedule, terms and method of payment should be written out fully with no room for misunderstandings.

Preliminary inspection
Finally, agree to an inspection before the job with the job supervisor. Establish the condition of the property before any work is done. Take special care to list the conditions of landscaping and equipment located under or near the roof eaves. Do not be unreasonable on your expectations. It is not possible to reroof a house without some damage to landscaping. Discuss and agree on what is reasonable. Prepare a checklist as you go and co-sign it, indicating that both parties understand the present condition of the property. A thorough inspection after the job will determine if any valid property damage claims exist.

Understanding the Contractor
This document serves as a guide to shopping for a good contractor and negotiating a good contract. However, you should keep in mind that your contractor is also shopping. A contractor is shopping for good jobs that will make a fair profit and bring future referrals. Many contractors have had experiences with unreasonable or dishonest homeowners. Therefore, they look for warning signs of customer problems during the initial job interview. Show the contractor that you are an informed consumer who has both your and his best interests in mind. 

Getting a Roofing Contractor to WANT your Job
Many homeowners have been mystified by the seeming lack of interest and response from contractors when they receive a call for a job. Here’s how you can get a roofer to respond to your call: When you call a roofer, tell him you are shopping around, but are only interviewing three contractors, not 10.

• Call contractors in the general vicinity. Roofers prefer to work close to home, just like everyone else.

• Tell the contractor you call that you are not looking for the lowest bid, but rather the best value. And ask for a Good-Better-Best proposal.

• If you have seen work by a contractor in your neighborhood and you liked it, or if someone referred a contractor to you, call him. 

And when you do call, mention how you received the contractor’s name.
By following these tips, you can help a roofer to determine that you are a good prospect and worth his effort.


Local Information
There are several organizations and institutions that you can contact when you need additional help or information
about reroofing. Unfortunately, it is not possible to predict which will be the most useful in any given location. Consider
these sources:

• Local Better Business Bureau
• City, county and state licensing authorities
• Local roofing trade associations, whose members are actual contractors, should be active in policing their trade and can be excellent sources of information.

We hope this document will help you in selecting a professional roofer. If you have any questions or comments about this document, we would be happy to hear from you. We also have developed other educational materials on reroofing, including our “Homeowner’s Guide to Re-roofing Products, Procedures and Problems” and a consumer document on manufacturers’ warranties entitled “What About the Warranty?” If you would like a copy of these documents or any other literature on specific types of products, or to find contractors in your area who qualify for CertainTeed credentials, please write, or visit or call us at:

The CertainTeed Home Institute
Roofing Products Group
P.O. Box 860
Valley Forge, PA 19482
(800) 782-8777