Your roof is quite literally what keeps you dry. As one of the most important parts of the home, it requires special attention. Whether you need a regular inspection, repairs, or a complete replacement, you don’t want to take any chances. That means not just working with professionals, but hiring the right professionals for the job.
Roofers in Birmingham, Michigan have a tough job to do. Especially around this time of year, they have to know how to fix a home’s roof not just for the current temperature, but coming storm and potentially harsh winters. Put simply, you don’t want to work with a pro who is not used to this type of environment. Instead, you need a strategy.
Fortunately, that strategy is easier to come by than you might think. All you have to do is be thoughtful about the process of hiring roofing contractors. Keep these 10 things in mind as you go through the evaluation and hiring process, and you can sleep well knowing that the people keeping your living room dry are qualified to do just that.
1) Find Your Contractor Options
First, it makes sense to start with a basic search. Before you even start the vetting process, get to know what options are out there in your area. Finding a qualified pro in Birmingham, Michigan has to include a complete ‘inventory’ of every roofing contractor who services homes in the area.
That inventory might be as simple as an Excel spreadsheet. Simply list out each pro’s name, website, and contact information. You will be able to use this list throughout the process as you try to find the roofing pro who’s the perfect fit to service your home and make all repairs needed.
A simple Google search can help. Sites like AngiesList are also good options. And of course, you can always work through your local Yellow Pages. Whichever method you choose, keep in mind that you’re only conducting a very basic search at this point. Your goal is to build a list that is as comprehensive as possible, so you can narrow it down later.
2) Stay Local in the Hiring Process
In your initial search, you will find a number of companies that offer their services across the United States. They might have some local offices, or simply bring in roofing contractors for the job at hand. More often than not, they boast great prices, plenty of discounts, and warranties that are almost too good to be true. Our advice: stay away from them.
That might sound counterintuitive at first. In reality, it’s a crucial component of the search process. National companies have acquired general expertise, and will be able to offer lower prices due to some economies of scale. What you have to ask yourself is whether or not a lower price can compete with the lost expertise concerning your home area and the challenges that brings with it.
Only professionals who have spent years repairing and building new roofs in the Birmingham area will know the nuances of the climate, what materials hold up the best in harsh weather, and much more. That’s why your first step to narrow your initial list should be directly connected to limiting your choices to local experts, rather than national companies.
3) Evaluate Roofing Repair Candidates
Once you’ve narrowed your list to local roofing contractors, it’s time for some evaluation. Put simply, it makes sense to only work with experts who have completed projects similar to yours in the past, and who have gained customer appreciation for their quality work. That requires some research, but that research will be well worth the effort down the road.
Fortunately, conducting that research is easy. Look for reviews on third-party sites like the Better Business Review and HomeAdvisor. Focus on projects that are similar to yours in size and scope. No one can escape the occasional bad review. Your goal in this step should be narrowing your list to only contractors where that bad review is an outlier rather than a pattern.
It doesn’t necessarily have to be formal. You don’t even have to read every single review. The goal here is simply making sure that you complete some initial vetting that allows you to exclude candidates who aren’t a great fit. All of the below steps will then help you make sure that you go beyond weeding out the worst and actually select the best possible option.
4) For Major Projects, Check References
For minor roofing projects, the above online evaluation may well be enough. If you just need a few shingles repaired after a major storm, you can probably trust what you read online as long as the source is credible. But for major projects, such as an entirely new roof, you need to do some additional vetting. After all, you’re planning to spend thousands of dollars; you have to make sure it’s a good investment, rather than a sunk cost.
Checking customer references is a perfect step to get started. Ask potential contractors if they’ve worked on projects like yours in the recent past, and whether you can contact those customers. Then, touch base with them on some very basic questions, from their overall experience to the contractor’s commitment to budget and agreed-upon timeline. Hearing it directly from customers can help you significantly improve your confidence in the right roofing pro.
It’s important to note that this step is not always possible to accomplish. Some roofers will be hesitant to give out customer information, and many customers will not actively want to have that conversation. That’s perfectly okay. The other steps mentioned in this article will do much of that vetting for you. Checking customer references is merely an additional step to ensure that your money is spent the right way.
5) Make Sure the Timing is Right
Make some initial calls. For the contractors making it through every one of the steps above, talk about your desired timing. When do you need a roof replacement or repair, and does that timeline fit within their schedule? Even the best roofing contractors may not work well for you if they’re scheduled out for the next few months. That’s why you have to make sure you get the timing right.
With the right questions, you may even get some discounts. Roofing repair during slower seasons may cost less. At the same time, you should also begin to inform yourself about the timeline for any project. Two similarly priced and well-regarded contractors may make the choice easy if one of them takes eight weeks, while the other only takes four to rebuild your roof.
Of course, much of that timing is out of your control. Still, you have to make sure that you know all variables involved before you make a decision. Timing is not necessarily a measure of quality, but it does give you guidance and helps you set expectations for the project.
6) Check for Licensing and Insurance
Never go through a roofing process with a contractor who is not properly licensed and insured. If you do, you risk significant personal and financial harm. This check also helps you make sure that you only work with credible professionals, who have proven expertise in their field that helps them complete your project to your fullest satisfaction.
The right contractors will showcase this information prominently on their Birmingham, MI roofing website. When in doubt, you can always ask for a copy of the insurance and license. Either way, making this check is essential in finding a partner who can repair or replace your roof exactly how you need it.
Stay away from any contractor who does not want to provide this information to you. There is usually a reason. Check with the regional roofing association to make sure the contractor is in good standing. If they are not, it’s time to look for other options that are a better fit.
7) Learn About Warranties After the Repair/Replacement
On their face, warranties are a surefire way to know whether you’re making a good investment. The longer the warranty, and the fewer conditions on it, the more money you will save in the long run should something go wrong. In other words, you can be sure that you don’t continuously have to dig into your wallet for ongoing repairs.
At the same time, long and credible warranties can also show you the trust that a Michigan roofing contractor has in their own work. Always remember that it has to make sense for them: warranties will only be financially viable if they don’t continually have to fix their own work. That’s why this step is such a vital action item as you find a pro that’s perfect for you.
It can be difficult to sift through all of the warranty stipulations and terms in your initial search. Be careful about those that sound great, but don’t include any details – the exclusion list might be long. When in doubt, you can always talk to a potential partner to learn about their warranty conditions in more detail.
8) Understand Your Insurance’s Involvement
Is your roof simply getting old, or did a storm do damage that now needs to be fixed? What is the cause of the missing shingles or lack of granules? The answers to these questions can help you determine whether you need to pay for repair, or whether your insurance can get involved to help you alleviate costs.
Understanding this step is also crucial in choosing your contractor. Some insurances only work with and reimbursed contractors on a pre-vetted list. The earlier you know which contractors are on that list, the better you can plan for reimbursement and financial security moving forward.
Finally, it makes sense to talk to your contractor about this step as well. The right roofing pro can actually help you navigate that process, knowing what documents to submit and when. That way, you’re not on your own in trying to take the right steps as necessitated by any insurance policy.
9) Get a Free Estimate
This step is actually quite simple: never get a roofing repair without a free estimate. It’s the best way for you to check how much money you actually need to spend, how long the process will take, and whether any additional issues surface that can be addressed at the same time as your initial problem.
A single free estimate from your most likely option is a great start. Ideally, you should go beyond that. Multiple quotes help you make sure that the pricing is realistic, and that you get to know each of your potential contractors for optimum evaluation. Then, make the decision based on your interactions as well as the price.
During the free estimate, try to understand as much about your roof as possible. Use the inspection as a learning experience, so you know exactly where the problem lies and how it might be fixed in the future. The more you know, the less likely you are to fall victim to exploitative pros in the future.
10) Establish Personal Trust
Finally, but certainly not least importantly, you have to establish personal trust. Any roofing contractor you work with has to be one that you implicitly trust to get the job done right, on budget, and on time.
This is the most intangible part of the process, but it might also be the most important. Would you trust the professionals who are about to work on one of the most important parts of your home to do just that? If the answer is no, even the most seemingly qualified and reasonably priced pro is probably not the right choice.
Taking No Chances For Your New Roof in Birmingham, Michigan
When you get a new roof, you cannot afford to take chances. Instead, you have to find a professional you can trust, and who is actually right for the job. We’d love to have a conversation with you on whether that option could be us. Visit our website to learn more about roofing in Birmingham, Michigan, then contact us to start the conversation.