How to Find the Best Roofer for the Job

Atlanta is home to a wide range of weather conditions. The city sees its share of regular thunderstorms in the spring and summer. In addition, Atlanta is not immune to freezing rain and ice storms seen by the Midwest and northeastern states during winter months. The weather shifts may result in damaged or detached shingles which can cause moisture to infiltrate your roof. Other factors play a role in roof damage as well.

These issues can include the natural process of long term deterioration of materials, vents, and seals, the experts at KTM Roofing tell us.

“Most general house-builders aren’t detail oriented like a professional roofer may be because builders have so many other elements they’re dealing with while building a house,” says Tim McLoughlin of KTM Roofing. Here’s why that’s a problem: improper installation of roof components like shingles, flashing, gutters, and gutter guards can actually cause immediate damage. Combine constant exposure to the elements, natural disintegration of materials over time with sloppy installation techniques, and you’ll have problems. Here, Tim dispels a few misconceptions of hiring a good roofer and offers up advice on getting the job done right.

PNL: Is it true that if the Better Business Bureau does not have any complaints against the contractor, he must be qualified?

TM: Checking with the BBB is a great place to start, but ask for customer testimonials, referrals from friends and neighbors and check Kudzu and other social media reviews. Be sure the references the roofer provides are for jobs completed within the past six months. Ask what percentage of business comes from referrals.

PNL: Choosing the contractor who offers the lowest price saves you money. Is this true?

TM: Not always! What’s being left out or what shortcuts have been made? Get the contractor to itemize the initial bid, so you’re not stuck with change orders. Be sure the quote includes ALL materials. It will help for you to develop a basic idea of what you want and need. When considering the scope of your project, create a prioritized list divided into three “wish/need” categories: Category 1 items must be part of the project at all costs, if the project is going to meet your needs. “Category 2” items should be included if the final design and/or budget permits. “Category 3” items would be extras, wishes, but not items necessary to complete the project.

By making this list and sharing it with your contractor, you can give him a crystal clear idea of the scope of your project, so you’ll both be on the same page.

PNL: If a person claims to have many years experience, they must to quality work. Is this the best testimonial to consider?

TM: Take experience with a grain of salt, because 20 years can create a lot of bad habits. It’s more important to check the company’s credentials. Are they registered with the Georgia Secretary of State and for how long have they been in business? Look for stable roofing companies that have been around since before 2008 (when the market turned and many construction companies turned into “roofing” companies). In this state, there is no specific industry license for roofers. So, also do a corporation search on the web at SOS.Georgia.Gov.  Be sure the contractor carries current comprehensive liability insurance specifically for roofing installation as well as coverage for workers’ compensation. You can call the roofer’s insurance company and check the company name on the insurance certificate is exactly the name shown on the roofer’s proposal and make sure it covers the company for roofers (not just the less expensive insurance issued for general contracting or other construction services).

DO be honest with the contractor when discussing the price of the project. Your budget is very important piece of the entire project. Provide a realistic budget.

DO confirm the contractor will pull all the required building permits. Many homeowners’ insurance policies require pulling a permit on any major home remodeling work to keep the home properly covered. Don’t let the contractor tell you that he needs YOU to get permits. This may be a warning sign they are not licensed (or worse, LAZY!).

DO ask for a printed, transferrable certificate of warranty, explaining the workmanship after the project is completed. A typical warranty is for five years or longer.

DO confirm the roofer is easy to reach. Get his cell number and check that it’s not an endless answering machine or unmanned office.

DO think twice about companies who ask you to make a down payment. Generally payment is due upon invoice or completion of the project. Don’t pay for work that hasn’t been done. That’s a contractor who is confident in his work.