Asking questions to your roofing company is an important part of determining whether they will be a good fit for you. Everyone’s home is different, and everyone’s needs and expectations are different, so one roofer might be a better solution than another. However, what everyone shares in common is that no one wants to get ripped off, no one wants to get scammed, and everyone wants a great-looking, long-lasting roof. You can avoid a lot of the most common pitfalls by getting answers to your questions ahead of time, and having accurate expectations about your roofing job will help your whole experience to be smoother. In our past few blog posts, we’ve covered the first fifteen questions you should ask, so if you’ve missed those, please read part 1, part 2, and part 3. Here are the remaining five questions.
16. Will my bid be itemized?
When you get a quote, you never want the final job to be padded with surprise charges, items that you didn’t pay for, or other fees that don’t have an explanation. But how do you protect yourself? If the estimate comes as one lump sum, you have no idea what could be included in that. The most straightforward way to ensure that you’re looking out for your own interests is to ask for an itemized bid, and the best time to ask for this (and get agreement that you’ll receive it) is before you agree to have any work done.
Keep in mind that any roofing estimate you receive is just that: an estimate. Any job can come with unforeseen surprises, and just because you get an itemized bid does not mean that things couldn’t crop up. Say your roofer tears off the shingles and discovers black mold underneath that wasn’t visible until then. You don’t want them to leave it there and cover it back up. However, what your estimate should include is a clear statement of charges, a preview of common things that could cause the price to go up, and an explanation of what will happen if a situation should arise that will increase your final bill.
For example, the roofing company might tell you, “If we discover a problem that’s going to incur additional expense, we’ll let you know about it and allow you to make the decision about how to move forward.” Or they might provide you with an estimated range between the worst-case scenario and the best-case scenario.
Either way, if your roofer does agree that you’ll get an itemized bid, it’s a good idea to say, “Can I see a sample?” This will give you insight into whether itemized bids are standard practice for them or if they’re making a concession just for you to win your business. If they don’t have one readily available, or if they need a lot of time to produce one, you might that they’re not used to making itemized bids.
If the roofer does NOT agree that you’ll get an itemized bid, ask why. You have a right to see if their reason satisfies you.
17. What are the payment terms?
There is nothing that can so quickly make you feel sour about a deal than when the money business gets uncomfortable. Spare yourself the headache and the stress by knowing up front what the payment terms are and whether you are ok with that. Even a job well done can turn into an experience that leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth if your roofer is demanding payment before you expected it to be due or if you’ve paid and the work didn’t get started on time.
Find out all the details about the payment schedule. What is due when? How much of a down payment will you owe? What’s the timeline for the work to be started, and how does that coordinate with payment times? If the work gets delayed, will that affect when you get billed.
This is not a topic where there’s necessarily a right or wrong answer, it’s just one where both parties need to err on the side of clear communication and setting accurate expectations. Don’t be afraid to ask enough questions to feel like you’re clear on all the payment terms and any contingencies that could affect the payment or billing.
18. What are your financing options?
It’s nice when your homeowner’s insurance pays for your roof replacement, but it’s not always possible to get insurance to pay for a roof, leaving you to find a way to pay for it. Most people don’t have a “roof savings fund” just sitting around accumulating money, so when it comes time to pay for your roof, you might be looking for the best option. Not all roofers offer a way for you to finance your roofing job, but the ones who do are going above and beyond to make every effort to win your business and make it easy for you to get the roof that your home needs.
Just like with any financing offer, be sure to read the fine print, understand the terms of the contract, know the interest rate, and be informed in general about whether it’s a good deal for you. Ask someone you trust, if necessary, to read through the contract with you and see if it’s a good deal. Compare the roofer’s financing offer with other options available in the marketplace, such as a bank loan or a home equity line of credit, to see which option offers you the most favorable terms.
Keep on high alert any time you’re dealing with a financing offer, as there are ways to get scammed. Some of these financing scams are relatively easy for bad actors to get away with, and they leave you footing the bill for work that may have never been performed. One big one to watch out for: A contractor comes around and has you fill out some papers. It’s actually a credit application. They then have you sign a form that authorizes them to take the payment. They pull the entire credit limit as “payment” for the service you’ve applied for. You get stuck with a maxed-out credit card, and they run off with thousands of dollars from the credit card company.
19. Who will be my point of contact, and what’s the best way for me to get in touch with them?
The person who gives you a quote may not be the same person who will be the project manager for your roof, and even that person may not be the correct point of contact to handle any questions or problems that might arise. However, the fact is, issues do arise, and you don’t want to be stuck getting the run-around, being passed from one phone number to the next while you attempt to reach the right person. Whether you need to tell the roofers not to come to your house that day because of an emergency, talk to someone to request a last-minute design change, or request an explanation of something that has occurred, learn how to reach the person who will be your point of contact during the process. The best roofing contractors will have one person take ownership of ensuring your satisfaction during the completion of the job, and you should be able to contact this person to ask for help, share a concern, or resolve any issues.
20. What if an issue comes up where a customer is not satisfied?
Don’t be uncomfortable to ask this question. Every roofing company should have a standardized procedure for customers to file a complaint, and if worst comes to worst, you need to know that the company is going to handle any disagreements respectfully, professionally, and thoughtfully. If you know the proper procedure and channels to go through, you’ll be in better shape to be able to make your dissatisfaction known in an appropriate and productive way.
Bonus: Things to watch for, but not ask
While you’re asking your 20 questions, keep a keen eye out for the following red flags. If you see them, you can make your own conclusions about whether or not you’re comfortable moving forward with that contractor.
- Does the company use high-pressure sales tactics or arm-twisting techniques to get you to buy now? (You have the right to sleep on the decision. They will always be there tomorrow for you to get back to them about what you’ve decided.)
- Is this going to be a bunch of hassle for me, or are they showing me that the hassle is mostly on them? (The companies that are working the hardest to earn your business will also be the best at giving their customers a great experience.)
- Am I getting a halfhearted or unenthusiastic response? (This may indicate that the salesperson or representative doesn’t really believe in the quality of what they’re selling. Maybe they know something is wrong behind the scenes and don’t feel comfortable getting people to sign on.)
- Is it hard to get a clear answer to my questions, or do I feel like asking questions is not welcome in the first place? (You have the right to ask questions. After all, you’re about to exchange a lot of money for the service this business offers. If your questions keep getting shut down, the company might have something to hide. Go elsewhere.)
- Is this person being honest with me? (It’s always hard to tell if people are lying to you, but if something doesn’t sit right, ask follow-up questions until you’re satisfied. If you observe a number of their statements to be patently false, you probably don’t want to provoke them, just end the conversation politely and don’t give them your business.)
The Hippo Roof Approach
Here at Hippo Roofing, we are passionate about quality, excellence, and attention to detail. We’ve shared this list because we want to lead the way in holding ourselves and other contractors accountable to the highest standards. It’s our goal to help homeowners to have the tools they need to make an informed decision about roofing services, so we’ve put together the Roofing Contractors Standards Guide as resources to help people in Melbourne and the surrounding communities to get the best roofing solution for their needs. We specialize in metal roofs in order to provide customers with a long-lasting, permanent roofing solution.
Contact us for your free roofing quote
Want the folks at Hippo to evaluate your needs and quote you a price for your roofing job? It’s easy! Simply contact us and we’ll be happy to provide you with a free estimate. Call us today!
P.S. Have a question that you think people should be asking before they choose a roofing company? Let us know by contacting us. If we get some good suggestions, we might add them to the list!