Seven Questions To Ask Before Hiring A Roofing Contractor


By Brian Stearns, Alpine SnowGuards

So, you’re looking into getting your roof repaired….or maybe you’re in the market for a complete re-roof. If either scenario sounds familiar, there are definitely some questions you should ask prospective roofers (notice the “s” on roofers. I added it because you can do yourself a favor by talking to more than one).

The questions you ask will help you make an informed decision, while comparing apples to apples and weighing the pros and cons of each, including majorly important topics like cost and turn-around time. Let’s be honest, either can be a potential deal-breaker.

Some things to consider before diving in head-first:

ciosek-7-questions-2Price DOES matter. Any roofing company that presents you with a significantly lower bid should raise your eyebrows a bit. Why? Because experienced roofers know the costs involved to get the job done. Newer roofing companies may come in with a low bid because they’re either not aware of the true costs of doing it right, or they’re so new that they really, really, want the business.

Doing your due diligence prior to the job ensures that you won’t have to worry about inferior workmanship, leaks, or other easily avoidable mistakes down the road.

ciosek-7-questions-37 Must-Ask Questions:

There are obviously a lot of questions you’ll want to ask, especially since no job is the same, and other questions will most likely arise from the answers you’re given to the below.

1. What exactly will the job entail?

If there’s more than one layer of roofing, it’s a requirement that the layers are removed prior to having a new roof installed. There are some roofers out there who might try to skirt this issue. You want to also make sure that any flashing will be replaced while they’re up there (might as well, right?) and install Ice & Water Shield (rubber membrane) at the eaves so you won’t have to worry about leaks caused from ice dams in the future.

2. Do you have a document from your insurance company with your liability & workers comp coverages?

Telling you they’re insured is one thing. Showing you they’re insured is another thing entirely. Asking to see a document shows you know your stuff, and any reputable roofing contractor will never find this an odd or offensive request. If they aren’t properly covered, you could be the one paying for it, in the form of a lawsuit if anyone was to be injured on the job site. Taking this precaution and asking to see it up front makes sense. Safety concerns, and making sure workers will be using personal fall arrest systems, should also be something you bring up.

3. Do you have a warranty on workmanship?

Warranties on roofing materials obviously don’t include labor, so you’ll want to make sure they have at least a one to two year warranty on workmanship – they should even be able to add this verbiage to your contract.

 Alpine SnowGuards has over 60 snowguard models to choose from for every roof type, including metal roofs.

4. Is there a current project of yours that I can visit?

The person who tries to sell you the job is usually not the same as the people who will actually be doing the job. It’s not a bad idea to swing by a jobsite and check out how the crew’s work looks, how the overall site is kept, and even the attitude of the crew. As an added bonus, not only will you feel better in making a decision after seeing work in progress, but by asking this question, you can also pretty much guarantee you’ll get the best crew they have.

5. Would you be hiring out any subcontractors?

If the answer is yes, this is NOT a red flag, so I don’t want you to think that’s the reason behind asking the question. The reason you should ask this important question is so you can get all the info you can about the subcontractor. Info like their name, insurance and licensing. If a subcontractor will be used, I would also ask who will be overseeing the on-site work while it’s happening.

6. Can you provide a few references from past jobs?

I know, I know….no-brainer. But actually calling or emailing the references after you get them could make or break your decision to go with a prospective company. Along with driving by to see the work for yourself, I would also ask each homeowner if their roofing project was completed within budget, as well as on-time.

7. How will you leave the job site at the end of each day, and at the end of the job?

If you’re paying someone to do your roofing project, make sure you won’t be the one stuck cleaning up the mess at the end of the day or at the end of the project. Clean up should be included in any contractor’s estimate, and normally is, but it never hurts to double check.

Roof repairs or roof replacements don’t need to be a giant headache, and doing your homework upfront will give you something money can’t buy – peace of mind. Good luck on your project!

Brian Stearns is president of Alpine SnowGuards, which he founded in 1993. He has 25-plus years of experience as a slate, tile and standing seam roofing contractor, with historic sites qualifications, and 10 years of experience as a steep slope roofing consultant. The author of "The Slate Book: How to Design, Specify, Install, and Repair a Slate Roof", Stearns is a member of ASTM Committee - E06.55.13, Snow and Ice Accretion. Alpine has a snow guard research facility at its headquarters in Vermont, which includes metal roofing - to view test findings, visit the Alpine SnowGuards blog. To contact Brian, email to For more information on Alpine SnowGuards, visit

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