2013, A Look Ahead: Roofing: Questions to Ask a Contractor

Hi everyone, today is going to be a Handyman Wednesday special of 2013, A Look Ahead. Specifically, we’re going to be replacing our roof. Normally, I would go about recruiting friends and family and replace our roof myself. However, the insurance company will be replacing our roof because of a hail storm last June. Therefore, I’ve compiled a list of questions you should ask every contractor before you hire them.

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hiring a contractor

1. Are you licensed? NEVER EVER EVER hire a contractor that isn’t licensed. You’re asking for shady work that doesn’t meet code if you do.

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2. What insurance do you carry? They should carry BOTH Liability insurance and Workers Compensation insurance. The Liability protects your home from damage by the contractor. The Workers Comp covers any of his employees that may get hurt while working on your house.

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3. Do you pull the required building permits and what are they? Always make sure that permits are pulled by your contractor. This means that a city inspector will come check his work and make sure it’s safe. This is a requirement for anyone I’m looking to hire.

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4. Who will be in charge of the job once it starts? Make sure the contractor himself or a high level foreman will be in charge of the work, especially when sub-contractors are involved. If a foreman is in charge, ask to meet him and see the job he’s currently working on.

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5. Ask for references! Then call them and ask 3 basic questions: Did the job get done in time and on budget? How well did the company meet their promises? Would you use them again?

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6. Ask for an itemized bid. He has to do this anyway, so it’s not more work for him. This way, if you want to cut costs, you can easily see where. If he resists giving you this, it’s a major red flag because he may be hiding something.

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7. Is your bid and estimate or a fixed price? If it’s an estimate, ask for a fixed price bid. If he still says no, drop him.

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8. How long have you been doing business in this town? If they have been working for 5 years or more they typically have a list of sub-contractors they know and are comfortable with; ask which ones.

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9. Who are your main suppliers? Find out, then go talk to them. Sometimes these will give the best insight into problems incurred in the past (bills, unhappy customers, etc).

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10. Do you guarantee your work? Have you been involved in any lawsuits on previous jobs? These questions should shine light on the quality of work done by the contractor and how confident they are in their work.

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contractor gear

Last but not least, how do you like them? Are they forthcoming with details or do you have to pry it out of them? Does he seem like a bully or headstrong? Can he give you daily updates? Do you trust the guy? Does he look you in the eye when he shakes your hand? Sometimes, a gut can throw up warning signs that are missed above. Never hire anyone you wouldn’t feel comfortable sitting and talking with. Openness and honesty is never overrated!

What questions do you ask contractors that I don’t have above? Have you had your roof replaced? If a pig loses its voice, is it disgruntled? Ever wonder what the speed of lightning would be if it didn’t zigzag?

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