A roof does so much for a house, including increasing energy efficiency, and so ensuring that your roof is in proper working order is very important. However, if you have leaks or need an entirely new roof, the job can seem almost overwhelming. Thankfully, there are a few simple guidelines which will show you how to make sure you're hiring a reputable and capable roofer or roofing team to get the job done.
Licensed or Unlicensed?
As with any type of home repair, there are many amateurs out there who will be happy to take money for working on your roof. Unfortunately, many of these people are either under-qualified, under-insured, or simply unreliable. How do you weed out the good ones? It's actually a rather simple process.
If you choose to hire somebody who is not a licensed roofer or roofing contractor, be aware that you are taking on a large amount of liability. Roofing can be dangerous. People working on a roof can slip and fall, possibly falling right off the house. Falls like these can cause serious injuries, many of which can result in large medical bills.
It's very possible that the worker carries insurance. However, if he doesn't, he might be unable to pay for his own medical care. If that is the case, the hospital can legally come after you, as his employer, to pay those medical bills.
Another risk in hiring somebody without a proper license is skill. This risk is reduced drastically if you are careful to hire only a roofer with an excellent reputation and good references. Don't be afraid to ask for and to contact former clients to get a good idea of the roofer's work record. A roofer with good skills and qualifications will usually have many happy former clients, and will be more than happy to have you contact them and hear the glowing reviews. However, if the roofer offers no references, consider it a big red flag.
Licensed roofers, or roofing contractors, are definitely a safer way to go. You are ensured from the start that the roofer is both licensed and insured, since these are mandatory in almost every area. However, just as with an unlicensed roofer, skills and references can make the real difference. Ask for references and call them, to hear just how good the roofer really is. This can also clue you in to small details that, while they may not affect the roofer's work, you may not want to deal with. These can include a surly attitude, a poor work ethic, or a history of showing up late, going over-budget, or taking longer than originally estimated.
The choice is up to you. However, no matter what route you take, make sure to ask some key questions in order to protect your property and your finances. Any quality roofer will be glad to answer your questions and provide all the paperwork and references you ask for, and this knowledge will give you the peace of mind to allow you to relax while your roof is repaired.