Choosing a Metal Roof Contractor
Deciding to invest in a metal roof is a big choice - while the roof may last 50 years on your home, the initial investment cost is higher than a traditional shingle roof, and the skill level of the roofing contractor who installs it has to be much higher than your standard roof.
We’ve provided the below checklist as a handy guide to help you in your efforts to select a metal roofing contractor who can properly help you guarantee your investment.
New York State does not require licensing for contractors, so while many other websites will mention for you to check a roofing contractors ‘license,’ in our state this does not apply. However, what is necessary in NY State is carrying proper levels of worker’s comp and liability insurance.
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Does the roofing company have Worker’s Compensation Insurance?
This is a biggie at the top of the list of requirements for any metal roofing installation crew because this policy guarantees that the crew that’s working on your property is covered in case of injury. If a contractor does not carry this policy then you, as the homeowner, become viewed as the “contractor” by the state of New York and become liable for paying the costs of the injury to that crew member.
Any reputable metal roofing company will be fully insured - and in fact, they won’t be able to obtain the proper building permits without this insurance, but it always helps to double check, because at the end of the day, you, as the property manager, are at risk in case of accident, not the uninsured contractor.
Is the proper safety equipment being used by the roofing company?
Federal and State Laws require a certain standard of worker safety - which can include harnesses on roofs over a certain slope and high visibility gear - such as the neon vests you often see on construction workers.
Does the roofing contractor have General Liability Insurance?
Beyond workers comp, check to see if the roofing company has all the necessary General Liability Insurance coverage for their company. Again, this protects you against any property damages if there is an accident on site. In the policy there shouldn’t be any open ended costs.
Is the metal roofing estimate you’re receiving a “written estimate” or an “exact price quote”?
If the estimate is just that - a written estimate, then it’s just a guess at the price and the contractor can come back and change the price on you at any time. However if the estimate is an exact price quote that is applicable to the contract you’ll sign, then the price is valid for the scope of the job.
Many customers ask if change orders - which are unexpected changes to the job site, apply to this in a contract. Generally speaking there are a couple situations where a change order might change your contract / estimate price and are entirely legitimate.
1. If, while removing your old roof to install the new metal roof, previously unknown factors are discovered (such as rotting decking or extra layers of old roofing that need to be removed that couldn’t be discovered before tear off). This will generally require extra removal labor or extra replacement labor.
Generally, a legitimate roofing company will have a clause in the contract for decking replacement - such as the first 2 panels replaced at no additional cost, and anything above that will be charged. This is also generally known by the customer before work begins.
In the case of completely unknown discoveries (to both metal roof estimator and client), then generally something is worked out to enable the change to be made effectively without causing harm.
2. The client requests a new feature or a new add on during construction - such as the addition of a skylight or an additional section of roof to be worked on, would qualify as a ‘change order’ outside the scope of the original contract.
Does the metal roofing company have a physical location - an actual office or showroom?
One of the biggest marks between a well established roofing company that does excellent work and a not-so-great contractor is whether or not there is a physical location for you to visit. Are they doing enough work every year to maintain an office? Or are they a one man contractor crew who is operating out of their home?
Generally, you can assume that if the roofing contractor doesn’t have the money to afford rent on an office space, then he won’t have the money to make an expensive repair or replacement if there’s a serious warranty issue caused by a mistake in workmanship - meaning they won’t be able to fulfill the terms of their own in house warranty (if they have one).
Obtaining the proper metal roofing permit
Make sure that the company obtains all the proper permits for your area (and make sure to ask!), as this is different for every city, and sometimes it’s different every year. For example, Albany has removed the requirement for a building permit, only to reinstate it a year later.
Does the roofing contractor have a bank reference letter?
While not looked at much these days, if you’re in doubt about the financial situation of the roofing contractor giving you an estimate, then the contractors bank should be able to provide a document that shows you the financial stability and the banks overall judgment of character of the company you’re choosing to do business with.
If this is a cause of concern, insist on seeing the letter so you know that you’re doing business with a company that is stable, financially sound and is likely to be around in 10 years.
Alternatively, does the metal roofing company have a supplier’s letter?
Rather than a bank letter, having a letter from their direct supplier of products, such as ABC Supply, goes a long way to helping ease your mind about the ability of the roofing contractor to pay their bills, complete jobs and stay in business.
These letters are very easy to obtain from the supplier, and if the metal roofing contractor tries to say otherwise, then they may not be able to get you the products they showcased in the sales pitch during the estimate, and could, instead be simply substituting out an inferior product that looks similar to a layman.
Does the company have positive roofing testimonials or references?
If the company doesn’t have any public testimonials, or only a couple, then it’s a sign that generally they’re either inexperienced or haven’t been able to successfully complete enough jobs to customer satisfaction in order to even get the bear minimum recommendation from a prior client.
Do company representatives communicate clearly?
If the contractor doesn’t respond to communication in a timely manner, especially in the beginning, then it’s not going to get better with time - generally a contractor is going to communicate the most with a client leading up to a sale.
So, if you’re having frustrations in communication while trying to sign a contract, then you can expect it only to get worse.
What is the roofing company’s policy on change orders?
Change orders are okay - they happen, because every situation is unique and sometimes you, as a customer request changes or there are unknown factors that are discovered mid project.
However, make sure you know what the company’s change order policy is before you sign a contract to make sure you know what you’re signing up for.
Is the roofing company using proper permanent materials?
Make sure that the roofing contractor is using the appropriate materials. Unfortunately, it’s a common occurrence for contractors to replace materials and shave off costs by using different brand items that tend to void manufacturer warranties without the homeowner knowing.
Here are some of the common types of materials:
Premium Ice & Water Shield – When a tear off is needed, premium non-granulated ice and water shield is needed 9 feet up from all eave edges, in all valleys and around all protrusions.
Woven Synthetic Underlayment – Woven synthetic underlayments installed with plastic cap nails, not staples.
Interlocking Starter – Interlocking starter for high wind certification.
Open Valleys – Open valleys that are self-cleaning. Closed valleys will allow ice to freeze around them and get ripped apart when snow and ice shift.
Baffled High Volume Ridge Vent – Baffled high volume ridge vents of 21 NFA (21 square inches of venting per lineal foot).
Premium Sealants – Premium sealants. Silicones will fail with modern ceramic finishes.
Non Corrosive Metals – Non corrosive metals such as aluminum or copper. Steel may be acceptable if you are not concerned about rust. Many unscrupulous contractors will try to get you to believe steel will not rust.
Energy Saving Finish – Look for heat reflective finishes such as Hi-R Kynar for maximum energy savings and longevity.
Hidden Fastener – Make sure all installation methods use hidden fasteners. Through fastened metal roofs with neoprene screws or rubber washers will fail and leak when the UV attacks the washer.
4 Way Interlock – Metal roof panels should be 4 way interlocking so debris and wind cannot get under the panel. Unsightly debris collects on overlapped panels.
Permanent Finishes – Metal roofs should have finishes that are permanent. Many inexpensive steel products try to mimic asphalt by gluing granules to the surface. These granules will come off. If you are buying a granulated steel roof, make sure to get 5 pounds of granules per 20 square of roofing for aesthetic repairs. This is done by applying an adhesive onto the panel and sprinkling granules into the adhesive.
Does the metal roof company offer an in house labor warranty as well as a manufacturer warranty?
Generally, it’s best practice by a roofing company to offer up to a 10 year labor warranty on all full roof replacements in addition to the manufacturer warranty on materials. However, many roofing companies will only offer up to 5 years on labor. Make sure that the labor warranty is at least 10 years (which is Infinite Roofings) as this will guarantee the most coverage period for your roof in case of a bad situation.