Choosing the right contractor is an important part of any home improvement expedition. This information does not apply solely to roofing contractors but any home improvement contractor. A seasoned homeowner ought to know the benefits of finding the right company for the job and why going with ”Chuck in a truck” or your neighbor’s cousin from Nebraska might not be the man for the job. I’m here to tell you how to weed out the bad from the good and save yourself from the financial headaches of home improvement. I will break this information down into four simple tips to give you what you need to make a confident decision in your contractor:
Avoid the “Chuck in a truck”.
Avoid storm chasers.
Find a professional with a local office.
Avoid the “Chuck In A Truck”
Many of us know the neighborhood handyman that will fix anything and everything for a couple of bucks and maybe a favor down the road. While this may seem appetizing to those of us looking to save a few dollars here and there, at the end of the day it ends up costing more than a few dollars, a favor, and a couple days of classic rock on the boombox. Chuck might get the job done with little fuss but the likelihood he got it done right is alarmingly low. The likelihood of needing a roof replacement or the work redone within the next few months is alarmingly high. “Chuck in a truck” is a serious problem in the roofing industry because, unlike HVAC, plumbing, and electrical, roofing requires no form of schooling or certification. That means anyone and their uncle can go throw some shingles on a home and call themselves roofers. Roofing is up there with some of the most expensive home improvements facing homeowners. Falling victim to boombox loving “Chuck in a truck” is the last home improvement mistake you will want to make.
Avoid The Storm Chasers
In areas often plagued by ferocious weather and severe storms such as hurricanes, tornadoes, or blizzards, homeowners may fall victim to what the roofing industry calls storm chasers. Storm chasers, appropriately named, are roofers who chase after areas in which homeowners’ roofs have fallen susceptible to damage from a recent storm. They push on homeowners to sign a contract as quickly as possible to ensure they don’t waste too much time on one victim. Do not sign anything without consulting, at the very least, three local contractors of reputable status. Many storm chasers are not aware of the local area building codes resulting in a series of issues for the homeowner. Storm chasers warranties, if they are even offered, are rarely held and when the homeowner’s roof starts leaking three to five years later they are nowhere to be found. Find a local contractor who offers professional service and save yourself from a financial headache.
Finding a Professional
Avoiding the “Chucks in a truck” and storm chasers is the easy part, finding a local professional, and more importantly, choosing between professionals is a whole other tier of challenges a homeowner must face. To start, homeowners must consider these three things when deciding between professional contractors: experience, authority, integrity.
Homeowners must be aware of the contractors background to determine if they’re right for the job. I find that “about” pages really are the best place to look for this information and can truly make or break a homeowners’ decision. Their “about” pages should give you the information you need to measure their experience.
Homeowners should also be looking to see that the contractor is a recognized expert in their field. This will usually be displayed as some kind of certification with a manufacturer in their industry or even having an informative blog/video series. They should have in some way established themselves as an authority figure within their industry.
Uncovering the integrity of a contractor is probably the easiest of the three. Reading reviews, not just looking at the rating, will give any homeowner a good idea of a contractor’s integrity. A healthy blend of all three experience, authority, and integrity is what makes a professional contractor.
Finding three professionals, and more importantly three local professionals, is a good starting point for any homeowner; so congratulations on making it this far. The next step most homeowners will take is having each contractor give their estimate and choose whoever comes in at the lowest price. Sure this is not a bad strategy if you have three contractors who will do the same exact quality work and one offers to do it for a little less. Who wouldn’t opt to save a little money when it comes to home improvements? The problem is we get so focused on the cost of the home improvement that we either push aside or entirely forget about the end goal of the home improvement project. At the end of the day the price is just an obstacle we must overcome to reach our objective. A contractor that realizes this reality and recognizes what your objective is will be more suited to serve you. I am not saying price is something to be looked at lightly, because it is not; but I am saying it is more important you choose a contractor that will work to meet your objective even if that means spending a little more.
While asking questions may seem like a no-brainer for any homeowner, it is important to know which questions to ask. I am going to break it down into two categories; the first being questions to ask yourself, and the second questions to ask the contractor.
To Ask Yourself
Does this contractor have experience, integrity, and authority?
Have they communicated professionally and clearly?
Am I confident they will stand behind their work if an issue arises years down the road?
Do they recognize what my overall objective is with this project?
To Ask The Contractor
What warranties are offered?
Do you have a local office?
Which materials do you use and why?
Do you have general liability and workers comp insurances?
Do you have all the required state and/or local licensing for my area?
Choosing the right contractor is a tedious and rather involved home improvement expedition but I hope this article serves well as an informal guide of the process. Remember: avoid “Chuck in a truck”, avoid storm chasers, find a local professional, and, most importantly, ask questions. Keeping these four simple points in mind will save you from a financial headache of choosing the wrong contractor for your HVAC, plumbing, electrical or roof replacement.