Pre-screening of Roofing Contractors Over the Phone

Memphis Roofing Service is your trusted friend for all your roofing needs. You can count on us to provide the highest quality of roof repair, re-roof, roof maintenance, or new construction roof for your home or business.

 

We suggest a simple pre-screening of roofing contractors over the phone.

 

After reading this article, you’ll know exactly what questions to ask so you can best save time, money, and energy as you prepare to get your roof replaced.

Question #1: What is your legal business name?

Getting a roofer’s legal business name is especially important nowadays because of how easy it is to falsely represent yourself online. A little detective work can go a long way in your pursuit of hiring the right contractor.

 

Answers you can accept:

  • The exact name they’re marketing themselves as.

  • Our legal company name is ‘X,’ but we’re doing business as ‘Y’ (as is the case with Roof Hub).

  • We market ourselves as ‘Roofing Company,’ but our legal business name is ‘Roofing Company LLC’ or ‘Roofing Company Inc.’

Don’t accept answers that sound hesitant or are unclear. This is the easiest way to guard against being scammed. When in doubt, ask for proof! No roofer should have trouble emailing you a copy of state licenses or proof of insurance (explained in question #2 below).

Using this information, you can search for their business in state and federal directories to ensure they even exist. If they don’t, then you may be dealing with a ‘fly by night’ contractor who’s out to either steal your deposit or install lower quality materials than you paid for.

Question #2: What level of roofing insurance do you have?

Roofing insurance can get tricky because many states may require different levels of insurance depending on what type of contractor you are.

In Tennessee, roofing contractors are required to have at least $100,000 in general liability insurance in order to legally operate in the state.  Memphis Roofing Service carries $1,000,000 in liability insurance.

To figure out what level of insurance is needed in your state, head over to Google, type in “[YOUR STATE] roofing insurance requirements,” then choose a result from your state’s official website. You’ll want a .gov website to be certain, not a .com or net.  Using Tennessee as an example, the site is “tn.gov.”

Answers you can accept:

  • An exact match, or an amount exceeding the minimum state requirements.

  • A copy of the company’s liability policy sent via email after the phone call.
     

Don’t accept answers that are indecisive, hesitant, or don’t match local, state, and/or federal requirements. Even if the company doesn’t have insurance, it’s easy to answer, “Yes, we have insurance.” Giving an exact amount is harder, which is why we recommend asking this way.

 

If a roofer is hesitant over the phone when you ask this question, it is a red flag; however, they may not be lying. If so, you don’t need to rule them out right away. Just ask for them to email you a copy of their insurance liability policy.

Question #3: Who will be on the jobsite during my roofing installation?

If you’re hiring a reputable roofing contractor, there’s a good chance they may have more than one roofing project going on on the same day.

But if the company owner isn’t going to be on your property during the install, then who’s going to be around to ensure the project goes smoothly?

Don’t panic!

Many larger roofing companies have a “project manager” whose sole focus is to make sure your roof is being installed in accordance with both local laws and manufacturer guidelines.

So, if the manager or owner of the company won’t be present during ‘install day,’ it’s important that an experienced project manager will be.

 

This is an easy question to ask any roofer over the phone.

Answers you can accept:

  • Owner of the roofing company.

  • Manager of the company.

  • Project manager trained by the organization.
     

Don’t accept this for an answer: “Our roofers are very experienced, so they don’t need supervision.”  While it is important to have experienced roofers on your crew, an efficient installation will only happen if there’s an industry expert in charge.

 

Roofing is complex, so if there’s “nobody running the show,” a small problem can easily turn into a roofing nightmare.

Question #4: Can you leave the roof estimate in my mailbox?

If a roofer agrees to leaving an estimate in your mailbox or agrees to just “drop it off,” then it may be a good idea to sprint in the opposite direction! Sounds counter-intuitive, here’s why:

Most roofers get away with dropping estimates off because it’s what homeowners want! Most homeowners like you and I are using this method to gather a bunch of estimates so we can compare, contrast, and choose the best deal. Makes senses, but this plan unfortunately backfires in the long run.

Getting just a price on a piece of paper does you a disservice because you lost the opportunity to ask any questions about the company, product, or installation practices. And as we’ve discussed above, you need this information in order to make an informed decision when hiring your contractor.

Answers you can accept:

  • No, because we may need to ask you questions.

  • No, because you’ll need to choose which materials you prefer so the estimate is accurate.

  • No, because depending on what we find outside, we may need to inspect your attic.
     

Don’t accept answers that allow a roofing contractor to just drop off an estimate in your mailbox because the price they leave may increase when materials change or if more work needs to be done than was originally expected.

Experienced local roofers know better than to just drop off an estimate… So, if you ask a roofer to “leave it in the mailbox” and they agree, then turn the page and dial up another contractor. It’s a warning sign you just can’t ignore. Your home’s health depends on it!

Question #5: What is your roofing price per square foot?

Asking this question over the phone will save you time by protecting against contractors who “race to the bottom” based on price alone. These unethical business practices help contractors win jobs in the short term, but ultimately set the roofing business up for failure. In these cases, unexpected costs can ruin profit. And if the contractor fails to make a profit, then it’s ultimately you who pays because they won’t be around long enough to honor a warranty.

Roof pricing is complex,  and lots of factors go into how much your roof will cost, including:
 

  • Current market price of roofing materials

  • Age of roof

  • Pitch of roof

  • # of layers on existing roof

  • Known issues

  • Condition of the shingles

  • Condition of the wood decking

  • And many more factors…
     

Important: If many factors go into determining the price of a new roof, then shouldn’t you choose a roofer who’s able to explain each factor? Don’t you want a roofing company to holistically determine your roof’s health before putting a price tag on its replacement?

We think so… Which is why we factor in all of the above when determining how much new roofs cost in Tennessee.

Answers you can accept include ones that take many factors into consideration. You’ll want a roofer who prices your roof from a holistic point of view because it shows they’re acting ethically and are pricing the job from an experienced point of view.

Don’t accept answers that consider just one factor. You don’t want to hire a roofer who only prices your roof based on its pitch, how many layers it has, or even how big it is (size). This is a recipe for disaster because it not only allows lots of room for error but leaves you as a homeowner open for surprises on install day…when you’re most vulnerable.

When speaking with roofers over the phone, make sure the roofer is speaking from a holistic point of view and knows that there are a variety of factors that determine how much your roof costs. If they have a one-track mind, it means they won’t be prepared if there are any setbacks during the installation.

Question #6: Can you do a layover instead of a full roof replacement?

A quick test to determine whether you’re dealing with an ethical, reputable roofing service is to ask for a “layover.” This is a trick question, so it’s important that you ask exactly how it’s written above.

What is a roofing layover?

A roofing layover is when the roofer nails new shingles directly over your existing shingles instead of first taking them off, laying one layer directly over the other.

 

Important: If the roofing contractor answers, “Yes, we can do a layover instead of a full roof replacement,” then it may be a sign that they’re just out to make a buck because this practice can be detrimental to your roof’s health.

Why is a “roofing layover” bad for your roof?

Think about why you’re looking to replace your roof in the first place…

Most likely, it’s because there’s something wrong! And if this is the case, then why cover it up? Covering up your existing problems with a roof layover won’t protect you for long, if at all, and in many cases will do more damage than good in the short term.

If your roof has signs of water damage like moss or lichen, then avoiding a layover is even more important. Adding a layer of shingles on top of a roof that already has water damage will encourage the moss or lichen to fester, spread, and break down both the old and new layer of shingles...definitely not a good use of your remodeling budget.

On top of the issues of festering, a layover takes away your ability to really know what’s going on with your roof because you can no longer see the damage.

Do you know how heavy shingles are?

HEAVY! Like, really heavy…

Strong architectural shingles from well-known manufacturers like GAF® and Tamko® can weigh up to 350 pounds per square!

This 350-pound number quickly starts to compound up on your roof because a square of roofing is equal to 100 square feet. If your roof is an average size of 1800 square feet, then ONE layer of shingles weighs at least 6,000 pounds…and that’s just the second layer!

Don’t accept answers that allow for any type of layover because, although you’ll save money in the short-term, the long-term downsides (including exponentially increasing your chance of a cave-in) are far greater.

Question #7: Does the roof estimator really need to come inside my house?

It’s common to think of a roofer and picture a truck with ladders and shingles stacked high barreling down the highway. But as technology improves, many roofing companies are moving in a different direction.

Gone are the days of speeding around to drop off a bunch of estimates before heading home after a long day of roofing. Nowadays, many reputable local roofers have an expert team dedicated to performing small-scale inspections and estimates for homeowners all day long. As a result, what really goes into a roofing estimate has drastically changed over the last few years! And it’s changed for the benefit of you, the homeowner!

Why a roofer needs to come inside your home…

Roofers should come inside your home for an estimate so they can inspect the attic space, especially if there are signs of water damage (moss, lichen, etc.) on the exterior of the roof. Not doing so can result in thousands and thousands of dollars in surprise charges on install day…

We know this because our team of expert roofers has given thousands of small-scale roof inspections over the last 10 years. However, not all roofing companies are experienced at inspecting attic spaces. 

Professional attic inspection companies will give you an unbiased opinion on what’s going on up there and how it affects your home. Though this option does add costs to your roofing project, for many homeowners it is worth the peace of mind if the roofing company you are choosing did not conduct at least a small-scale attic inspection.

But what if you don’t have an attic space?

If you don’t have an attic space, letting a qualified roofer inside your home is that much more important! A trained roofer’s eye can quickly spot small cracks and stains along your interior walls or on your ceilings. These are tell-tale signs of a leak, and such a discovery MUST be taken seriously.

Answers you can accept include only those that require the estimator to come inside your home. If the roofing service you are speaking with over the phone does not make this a priority, then only hire them if they require you hire a professional attic inspection before they complete the job.

Don’t accept answers that only consider exterior roof damage like curling shingles or moss. In many cases, roofing systems that look okay from the outside are riddled with interior damage that is far more important to your home’s health than exterior damage ever would be.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, these questions should be used simply as a guide and in combination with your gut feeling of a given roofer’s ethics and credibility. If a situation doesn’t feel quite right or you think a roofer is “trying to pull a fast one” on you, then we always suggest playing it safe and choosing someone else.

Choosing who replaces your roof is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever make for your home. A poorly installed roof will cause more headaches than you can imagine, often years down the road when the contractor is out of business.

Call us at 1-901-707-0355 for a free inspection and quote!