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10 Tips for Hiring a Flat Roofing Contractor

Pat Jewell
May 4, 2019

Hiring any roofing contractor can be challenging, but a flat roof requires even more attention to detail. As a commercial roofer near Washington, D.C., Capitol Improvements has been installing and replacing flat roofs in the D.C. area for more thousands of happy clients, and we’re here to help if you’re wondering what to look for in a flat roofing contractor.

Here is our list of 10 things to look for when you’re hiring a roofing contractor, and a flat roofer in particular.

10 Tips for Hiring a Flat Roof Contractor

The following ten tips can help you in the search for any roofing contractor, and especially when you need to hire a flat roofing contractor. Flat roofers must have all of the skills and qualifications of a regular roof contractor, plus the specialized tools and expertise to install flat roofs correctly.

Continue reading to learn the top ten things Capitol Improvements recommends looking for in a flat roofer.

1. Insurance and Licensing

When you work with any contractor, it’s essential to make sure they’re appropriately licensed and insured.

Insurance is paramount when you hire a flat roof contractor. It protects you from liability in the event of an accident and helps ensure you don’t pay more than you need to. Installing and working on flat roofs is a precarious business and takes a lot of skill to avoid mistakes. Even the most experienced and adept roofers face hazardous working conditions, so insurance is a must-have.

If you’re receiving bids on a flat roof project from several different contractors, make sure to examine the insurance coverage of each one. This ensures all contractors are on the same playing field, in terms of pricing. (If a contractor’s bid is significantly lower than the others, make sure to double check whether they have the correct insurance coverage. They may be able to low-ball the cost if they’re not paying for proper insurance coverage.)

Complete insurance coverage for a contractor includes worker’s compensation and liability insurance. You can typically find this information on a reputable roofer’s website or in their estimate for roofing work.

As with insurance, licensing is usually a must-have for any roofing contractor. Each state, city, and county has different requirements when it comes to roofer licensing, with some more strict than others. Some states and cities may not require licensing for jobs under a certain dollar amount, while others may require a license to perform any roof work at all. You can call your local building department or check online to confirm the specific requirements in your city.

tips for choosing a roofing contractor

2. References and Reviews

A roofer can be amazing at one type of job and not so great at another. That’s why it’s so necessary to look at reference photos and reviews of the roofer’s work on projects similar to your own. If you find a roofing contractor who has stellar reviews on first glance, it’s still important to take a deeper look at what types of roofs they’ve worked on in the past.

Reference photos and client reviews are especially important when it comes to flat roofs. They take a great deal of skill and experience to master, and not every roofer specializes in flat roofing.

When you’re shopping for a flat roofer, make sure to look at written reviews from flat roof customers, as well as photos of completed work, if available. If the roofer doesn’t have pictures of their previous flat roof work posted on their website, you may ask for a list of references along with the quote for the job.

3. High-Quality Materials

how to choose a flat roof contractor

High-quality materials are essential for any roofing or construction job, but especially for flat roofs. The quality of the materials your roofer uses can either make or break a flat roof’s integrity and longevity. High-quality materials will protect your roof from water damage, which is an essential part of a functioning flat roof. The right roofing materials can also add value to your home and reduce cooling and heating bills.

The contractor should be able to tell you the brand and type of materials they’ll use to install or repair your flat roof. This includes the primary product—such as the brand of TPO, EPDM or torch-down roofing—as well as adhesives and insulation when applicable. Remember, lower-quality materials will come at a lower price up front, but they’ll cost you more in the long-term when repairs and replacements quickly add up.

Make sure your flat roof contractor uses only the highest-quality flat roof materials and installation techniques before you sign a roof installation or repair contract.

4. Manufacturer Certifications

Your flat roof contractor should be able to show their skill and experience in using their preferred flat roof products. Manufacturer certification (or approved applicator status) is the best way for a contractor to demonstrate their expertise in using a product line.

The roofer you choose should be manufacturer certified or listed as an approved applicator. When this is the case, you can usually find this information on the roofer’s website.

For example, a GAF Certification guarantees a roofer is skilled in using GAF manufactured products. Only about 5% of all roofing contractors have achieved GAF Certification.

Manufacturer certification, such as GAF Certification, also offers additional benefits to you as the homeowner. In the case of GAF Certification, it means the certified roofer is eligible to offer GAF’s Extended Warranty.

The flat roofer you choose should be an approved applicator or manufacturer-certified for one or more roofing material manufacturers. If you can’t find this information on the contractor’s website, be sure to ask if the material you choose (TPO, EPDM, etc.) has an approved applicator program.

5. Local Presence

The company you choose to work on your flat roof should be locally owned and operated. Not only should they perform work in your area on a regular basis, but ideally, they should have been there for some time.

Customers who choose non-local or not well-established roofers are often left high and dry when their roofs fail or show signs of improper installation. They may still be within their agreed-upon warranty, but the roofing company has vanished or no longer exists.

Make sure to choose a roofer that has an excellent local reputation and has been around for a while. You can check this out by asking around your workplace, talking to family and friends, and by using sites like Angie’s List and Yelp.

A locally owned and managed flat roofer is also more familiar with local rules and regulations, and is more likely to have valuable relationships with local crews and suppliers.

6. Quality Assurance and Warranty

how to choose a flat roof contractor

Before you hire a roofer, make sure to ask the contractor how they guarantee the quality of their roof services, and what the warranty on your roof will be.

The first part of this is quality assurance. The roofer should fully and thoroughly inspect the roof after completion to make sure it is installed correctly. Before you hire your flat roof contractor, check to make sure that a thorough post-inspection is included in your written contract.

Second, your roofer should offer an extended warranty for their roofing products. When a roof is installed incorrectly, it can take months or even years for damage to appear. When this happens, insurance won’t cover the cost of the damage done by a faulty roof installation. Even if a flat roof looks perfect immediately after installation, there could be a minor flaw that leads to significant problems in a few months. Before you agree to work with a roofing contractor, make sure you’ll have an extended warranty for your roof.

7. You Handle Your Insurance Claims

Never hire a flat roofing contractor who makes promises or claims that are outside of industry rules. A common claim that inexperienced or disingenuous roofers may make is that they can handle your insurance claim or perform a roof repair without your paying your insurance deductible.

For all roofing projects, steer clear of contractors who say they are a “claims specialist” or that they can handle insurance claims on your behalf. In most instances, it’s illegal for contractors to negotiate insurance claims on behalf of the homeowner.

It may be tempting to go with a roofer who promises to handle the entire process from start to finish, including everything insurance-related. However, in almost all instances, it is your responsibility to communicate with your homeowner’s insurance provider and file claims.

8. Integrity

When you’re choosing a flat roofer, steer clear of “storm chasers” and pressure-selling techniques. A roofing contractor should allow you to take all the time you need to make the most educated decision for yourself and your home. Sales tactics like cold-calling and canvassing after a big storm aren’t always backed by malintent, but it’s better to walk away if you feel pressured to commit.

Many roofers who use these techniques will evaluate your home for storm damage and ask you to sign a letter of intent. Never sign anything in these situations, and always wait to review contracts thoroughly.

The roofing contractor you choose should have a high level of integrity, which means they want the best results for you, rather than just a quick sale.

One of the best ways to check a roofer’s integrity is by checking their rating on Better Business Bureau (BBB). Roofers who do not exist on BBB.org are less likely to be reliable or have a track record of ethical business practices.

9. Financing is a Plus

flat roof financing

While not entirely necessary if you’re willing and able to pay in full, financing is a definite plus when it comes to hiring a flat roof contractor.

Because they involve more specialized equipment and training, flat roofs can be even more costly than pitched roofs. But financing can help you get the best quality at an affordable price.

When you work with a contractor who offers financing, make sure you fully understand the terms of your financing agreement before signing. The roofing contractor should work with a reliable financial institution that can provide you with flexible terms and a reasonable interest rate.

Always make sure the financing option through your contractor is the best choice by comparing it with your bank and several other loan options. Some flat roofers may offer financing at an inflated rate that’s not in your best interest.

10. Communication

Most of all, your flat roofing contractor should be easy to communicate with. This means they should be available to answer your questions from the moment you ask for a quote to the very last bill payment, and throughout the life of your warranty. The company should have a dedicated service staff that knows what’s going on with your roof and isn’t overwhelmed with other projects.

When you choose a flat roof contractor, make sure to choose one that is transparent in communicating with you and explains things in a way you can understand. Make sure to get the job details in writing, including a precise estimate and timeline. You should have a clear idea of how long the job will take and have a completion date down on paper.

If a roofing contractor isn’t able to communicate when they’re bidding for your business, things aren’t likely to improve once you hire them for the job.

Hiring a Flat Roof Contractor

Above all else, it’s important to remember that price isn’t everything when you’re shopping for a flat roof contractor. An inexpensive roofing contractor may look like the best choice at first, until you look in more detail at their services and product. Paying drastically less up front nearly always means you’ll end up paying more in the long run when you don’t invest in high-quality materials and skilled work.

Choosing a roofing contractor can be a highly involved process, but it’s one that you want to make sure to do correctly. Otherwise, you could end up with costly roof damage or damage to the rest of your home.

Flat roofs are one of the most specialized fields in roofing and in contracting in general. Make sure you get the result you’re looking for by following the above ten tips for hiring a roofing contractor.

Capitol Improvements Flat Roofing

If you’re in the Washington D.C. area and shopping for a residential or commercial flat roof contractor, contact us at Capitol Improvements for a quote.