It’s not just the price to choose
No matter the price, your roof isn’t affordable if it leaks every time it rains. This will of course take a long time after the contractor leaves, and you will be stuck in the rainy season to fend for yourself while your tenants are yelling at you about the water damage. Maximizing value is all about selecting the best roofing contractor, who uses 1st quality materials with certified workmanship, all at an affordable price.
Too often, landlords and property managers fall victim to a slip of guard. Many roofing salespeople hope you skip the background check and just make a gut decision to get a “deal.” Then you are unfortunately stuck with a problematic and leaky roof for years to come…
At the same time, you are busy managing your business and your personal life. You shouldn’t have to spend hours and hours getting “second” opinion after second opinion, and the good news is, you don’t have to. If you choose the right contractor from the start, you will have peace of mind for 10, 15 or even 20 years or more! Plus, you’ll save thousands dollars in potential emergency repairs and eliminate the stresses of a leaky roof.
Maximizing the value of your roofing needs comes down to two key factors. Do you need a master’s degree in construction management to understand them? Are they more secret than the Coca Cola recipe? Will you fall out of your chair hearing them? The answer to these questions is NO, but what is shocking is how many people are willing to compromise on one (or both) of these components, and most only realize their mistake when they it’s way too late…
Two key factors in choosing a contractor: (1) Who is doing the work and (2) The quality of their materials
How to check that your roofer is qualified
The roofing industry is approaching $20 billion with nearly 200,000 contractors. It’s a big deal. Unfortunately, not all of them are reputable and many customers are taken advantage of.
To protect yourself, you must first ensure that your contractor is:
- Authorized with a “C-39 Roofing Specialty” license from the California Contractors State License Board (CSLB)
- Glue with the CSLB
- Insured with worker’s compensation insurance and at least a 1M general liability policy
- Honorable with a long list of references and a proven pedigree
Authorized — You should NEVER hire an unlicensed contractor, especially not for your roof. When you’re in your home or office building, you’re standing between gravity and the elements, and you don’t want to risk letting your roofer cut corners. Once you have identified a roofing contractor you are interested in, the first thing to do is contact the Contractors State License Board at www.cslb.ca.gov or (800) 321-CSLB (2752) for make sure it has a valid license active since to less 20 years. After all, how can you believe a contractor with a 2 year license giving a 15 year warranty?
Bonded – Although you may have a special bond with your Golden Retriever, California requires a different type of bond with all of its contractors. A surety bond is a contract between a roofing company, the competent authority and a “surety company” (think insurance company) that financially guarantees that the contractor does what it says it will do. Why should you care? This benefits consumers (you) financially in the event of faulty construction, violations of law and other violations committed by a bad contractor. You can view the CLSB’s bonding requirements on their website, and it’s essential (and legally required) that your contractor has one in place to protect you.
Insured — Accidents happen and you need to be sure that you are protected against the risk of bodily injury and damage to your property. As if the construction horror stories weren’t enough, mixing this with the stereotypes of the legal system after an accident should be good motivation to check your contractor’s insurance policy ahead of time. The three main types of insurance to verify your contractor has are:
- workers compensation — reimburses employees for lost wages and medical expenses, including for rehabilitation
- General liability – protects against personal injury, property damage and damage to the reputation of third parties (such as defamation or slander)
- Commercial automotive – covers the cost of property damage, vehicle repairs, medical expenses and legal liabilities after a commercial automobile incident
Reputable – Although the previous checklist may seem thorough, you can verify all of this with a computer, an email from the contractor including their credentials, and 5 minutes on the CSLB website. Answering these points is the bare minimum to even consider a contractor, and assuming they do, you should check their reputation next. Reputable contractors are always happy to provide you with 3 personal references and examples of past work. Nothing is better than hearing reviews directly from real customers, and knowing that a business has countless happy customers who bring repeat customers speaks for itself. It takes 20 years to build a reputation and only minutes to ruin it, so a company with a solid history is worth placing at the top of the list.
Any contractor who doesn’t have all of this readily available information has something to hide, and you should look elsewhere for your roofing needs. If they only did the bare minimum here, how good could their materials and workmanship be?
Does your roofer secretly use “rejected” materials to save money?
You sign the ignition, hear the pounding and smell the hot tar. That means everything is perfect and you get the best possible job for the best price, right? FAKE
With so much to consider about your roofer, you can’t forget to make sure they’re using the right materials. Whether it’s a new roof, a new roof, a leak repair, or just regular maintenance, you need to make sure your roofer uses the highest quality materials possible.
“But how do you tell the good materials from the bad ones? I am not a roofer!
Step 1 is to make sure the brand of shingles, tiles, or rolled roofing is from a known manufacturer like CertainTeed Corporation, Owens Corning, or GAF Materials. Large scale experienced suppliers have been in business for decades because their products work well and they are experts in quality control.
That said, not all finished materials are created equal. In fact, a little-known secret is that manufacturers sell their imperfect materials. Think of a chef with leftovers from a few days ago. Instead of wasting food, they can combine ingredients into a “special” soup of the day to limit waste. Manufacturers also don’t want to waste, so they sell defective stock at a discount. That’s fine as long as your contractor doesn’t buy them for your roof. Contrary to the comparison above, your roofing materials have to be perfect because you have to live with it for decades!
But how do you tell the good materials from the bad ones? There are four categories of roofing materials:
- 1st Quality
- 2nd grade (called “2nd”)
- 3rd grade (called “3rd”)
- Reject quality
Manufacturers have various reasons for downgrading the quality rating of what they produce. Errors can be related to poor reinforcement, lack of proper asphalt content, poor granule appearance and bonding, among other factors. Each defect greatly affects the waterproofness and life expectancy.
Of all the things mentioned so far for getting the most out of your roof, here’s one tip you can’t afford to ignore. Literally.
How to spot the differences? Talk to your contractor and ask him to confirm that he will only use top quality materials for your work. If you ask and they don’t look you in the eye anymore, or even worse, try to convince yourself that “2nds” can be used, it’s time to put their quote in the shredder and move on to a highly ethical roofer. .
Demanding contractors will be proud to tell you about the excellent quality of their materials and highlight them in their quotes. Premium materials are always packaged from the factory with detailed labels showing their logo and a barcode. If you see materials with blank brown or white labels — or even worse, just wrapped in plastic without a tag — there’s a 99% chance your contractor is using 2nd grade materials.
A usual dead giveaway is the price. If you get a few quotes to compare and see one that is 15-50% or more below the others, they are probably using 2nd grade materials. At the same time, a price offered in the same range as others does not always mean good quality. Unfortunately, some roofers are bold enough to use cheap materials. and charge you full price. How would you feel to find out that you paid thousands of dollars for good faith work for substandard products from someone who paid them 20 cents on the dollar? Not good…
It’s up to you to find out and maximize the value of your roofing investment which should last 20 to 30 years. Take comfort in knowing that with the key tips mentioned above, you are now better prepared than most buyers to maximize the value of your next roofing project.
About the Author
Whether you are just starting out or already have quotes in hand, you should always include Royal Roofing Company in your next roofing project. Led by owner and industry veteran Steve Pinkus, Royal Roofing Company has been in continuous business for 40 years in Southern California under the same license. That’s because we only hire the “best of the best” roofers and use the highest quality materials. We maintain the highest level of business integrity as evidenced by our 40 year CSLB license standing without a single violation, citation or disciplinary action.
Royal Roofing Company is so confident that our roof consultation will benefit you that we offer free estimates no matter the size of your project. Call today and one of our roofing specialists will inspect your roof free of charge, then walk you through their recommendations with photos and ensure you are educated to make the right decision. Together, this will save you thousands of dollars over the life of your roof.