Pretty much the time of year for a hail storm and roof replacements to begin. There’s so many horrible stories about contractors on the news, from your friends, on Facebook; there’s even completely dedicated Facebook sites directed at warning consumers of sham contractors. So how can you really know that you’ve got a good contractor? Let me just first start by dispelling the myth that all contractors are builders are bad. That simply is not true however, like anything that you’re going to spend a substantial amount of money on, doing your homework is key!
For the purposes of this discussion we’re going to talk mainly about roofing contractors.
First off, internet reviews are very difficult. It’s either the few that are, really mad about who knows what posting bad reviews; or it’s particular jobs that happened to go really well or friends of the contractors willing to go on and say a few good words. Have you ever looked up a medical doctor and seen how all of the reviews are polar opposites of each other? Yes, the same for contractors (and even attorneys 😁). So don’t let your one and only source of referral be from online reviews. If you’re going to consider the reviews, read them carefully, the detailed ones with specific examples are usually the most accurate. If somebody’s complaining, consider whether this is a small complaint or whether it is a product of the post pandemic world that we live in.
Of course, you can always get reviews from friends. That being said, most of you have probably referred out someone you thought was really good only to get negative feedback from your friend.
- Look for someone that is absolutely in your area. Don’t pick someone that has just chased the storm.
- When did they start their business? Beware of the people that start businesses every few years under different names.
- Ask for references – but here’s the kicker, ask for their most recent or last three jobs. Wait for the reaction. Don’t let them cherry pick the reference that they give to you.
- Are you asking for a lot of free stuff to be thrown in? You can pretty much guarantee that the contractor that you get is going to be problematic. I’m not saying that they’re bad contractors but in this economy if they are willing to include lots of free stuff, I would wonder why they don’t have enough actual work to do the job that they get paid for.
- Are you asking the going rate and do you have reasonable expectations about the time frame necessary to complete the project? For more information on this please visit our blogs which talk about the pandemic problems that are out there that everyone should be aware of. http://www.dallasconstructionlaw.com/my-price-is-fixed-but-my-costs-are-not/
- On a general note, if you’re looking for a very small job to be done, be ready to pay premium rates. Again, every contractor I know is slammed. If you have a contractor willing to come out for a small job at a small price you have to wonder about their capabilities or even if there’s going to be an upsell at the very end. Understand the market when you want someone to do a job for you.
- Ask them about their start date and how long it will take for them to complete the project.
- GET IT IN WRITING. Most roofing contractors have a one-page authorization form. Those really are not sufficient to cover either the contractor or the homeowner. Make sure that every single item that you’re relying on is contained within the document, even if you have to add an attachment continuing the contract.
- Don’t expect contractors to bend the rules for you. And if they do, again, if they’re that desperate why do you want to hire them? The most recent example that I can think of on this involves somewhat recent regulations from the insurance industry that requires the homeowner to pay their own deductible. Contractors are no longer able to deduct the deductible from the back end. Homeowners certainly remember this being done in the past and often think a contractor is not being honest when they refuse to pay the deductible… Wrong
- Have a “buyer beware” skepticism during storm season when there are a multitude of different contractors knocking on your doors all ready to sell you a deal for a dime.
- There may be a contractors with experience, but do they have experience in the exact job that you’re trying to give them? Recently, I had a client who was adding a second edition. I’m pretty certain that the contractor was a tile man prior to this. Would you want to tile man ripping off your roof and trying to engineer a second story onto your house?
- If it’s a big job, ask them what kind of insurance they carry, get a copy of their declaration page, and call the insurance company to make sure that it is a valid policy.
- Make sure you understand what the contract says. Are you responsible for payment even if the insurance company has not paid the full total? There’s many situations that this happens so you want to be aware.
- If you really want to know how good the contractor is, ask your realtor or a construction attorney. I have clients that come to me and I will do research on the name of the company, who owns them, and I’ll be able to tell you if they’ve had lawsuits or if they change their names often or even if a lot of liens have been filed either on them from subs or if they are having to file a lot of liens (which can often times be an indicator that they get into disputes often).
- If there is a dispute, don’t wait too long to get legal counsel. Many times, we’re not able to do anything to help if the situation has been ongoing for a long time.
- Are you looking at their Facebook or social photos? Do a reverse Google image search for the photo. You would be shocked how many of the images are stolen. If you only see the first part of the job but not the end result… Run.
- Last but not least, don’t get so desperate that you leave your common sense at the door. I swear, we’ve all done it but when those alarm bells are ringing take them seriously.