Do you need a new roof? Do you know what to look for in a roofing contractor? Do you know what can do damage to a roof?

If you’re like me, a roof is something you don’t think about much. I’ve never been on one, I’ve never inspected one, and I’ve certainly never repaired one. The thing is, roofing is your protection from rain, animals, and high energy bills. Those shingles up there are much more important than you may think.

When you need roof repair or replacement, hiring the right contractor is one of the most important steps you can take. It’s easy to get blindsided by sharp sales presentations and fliers full of roofing terminology, however, and having a set of questions to ask each roofing contractor you interview can help you make an apples-to-apples comparison.

Let’s take a look at the most common roof problems you’re likely to encounter as a homeowner; keep reading for my list of the five most important questions to ask your roofer!

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Common Roof Issues

Leaks

Water leaks are one of the most common problems a roof can have. Causes can range from holes or animal intrusion to lack of proper drainage or lifting shingles. If you can get on the roof safely, it may be a good idea to carefully assess the damage.

It may be a simple fix, but call in a professional to do the work. Roof repair is complex, and it can be dangerous to attempt yourself.

Animal intrusion

close-up of squirrel on roofAnother common cause of roof failure is animal intrusion. Once a rat, squirrel, opossum, or raccoon gets in, it can cause terrible damage to the walls and insulation. Rodents and other critters have even been known to chew through electrical wires, which is a safety concern and a fire hazard.

You can call a pest control or wildlife removal company, and that’s perfect, but be sure that the exterminator seals off all entry points once the animals are removed. Wherever the animals got in to begin with, they will get in again unless those entrances are secured.

Poor energy efficiency

Bills are a constant. We can’t get away from them, but we can control them in a lot of cases. If you’re dealing with high energy costs (or have noticed a recent spike in your energy bills), you should definitely call in a professional to inspect the roof. Your roofing insulation could be lacking or old, or an animal intrusion problem could have led to the insulation deteriorating altogether.

This is possibly a relatively easy fix (New insulation, sealing of any holes, and there we go: energy efficiency!), but you should always consult a professional to be sure that your suspicions are accurate.

You’ve checked out your roof, you’ve assessed the damage, and you’ve decided that repair is the only way. Now, it’s time to contact some contractors and get them in for an estimate.

Ask plenty of questions to ensure that you understand the work that needs to be done and that you’re comfortable with the contractor you choose. Not sure what to ask?  Start with my five favorite things to ask a roofing contractor. 

5 Questions for Your Roofer

It is very important to make sure any contractor you hire has the right qualifications and legal requirements for your state. Don’t hire an amateur, as often this leads to further damage and a costly replacement of the whole roof.

Your home is uniquely yours, and you need a partner in the home ownership journey: someone you can trust with the home you’ve created. Best Pick companies are all licensed and insured, and they have been carefully researched so we can offer you the best and brightest.

Start with a search on the Best Pick Reports website. Once you make contact with a roofing professional, be sure to ask the following questions before signing any agreements.

1. What caused the roof damage?

Repairs will be based on the cause of the damage. If a tree fell on the house, for example, you need to contact your insurance company. Any payments will be done through the insurance carrier in most cases, so it is important that you fully understand the extent of your insurance coverage and any restrictions on the repair work prior to signing anything with the contractor.

Further, if the damage is due to something like lifting shingles or ice under the shingles, you will likely need a whole roof replacement sooner or later. Make sure to get as much information about the problem as possible so you can be informed, and so that you can relay that information to your insurance company if need be.

2. Did an animal get into my roof space?

Animals finding their way into your roofing system can be disastrous. Rats, opossums, squirrels, and racoons can shred insulation and chew wires, and their waste can seep into the framing and drywall below.

If your roof is being completely replaced, the wildlife intrusion problem will most likely be taken care of by the new roof structure and materials. If your roof only needs repair work at this point, make sure that the wildlife issue is addressed either by the roofing company or by a wildlife removal specialist.

Getting rid of the animals is step one, but it’s even more important to have your roofing and exterior sealed against re-entry. Some roofing companies handle wildlife removal, but most do not. Ask the company about their additional services. If they don’t offer wildlife removal, ask them to refer someone or consult Best Pick Reports or another reputable source of recommended contractors.

3. Are you licensed and insured?

Once you know the cause of the damage and possible repairs that need to be done, you are ready to hire. While Best Pick companies are all licensed and insured, if you are not in our coverage area, it is very important to ask your potential roofer about his credentials and insurance coverage.

Roofs are typically very high up in the air, and roof replacement and repair work can be dangerous. If a roofer falls and the company is not insured, you will be held liable for the damages and injuries because the accident happened on your property.

4. How do you handle debris?

Roofing work can create a lot of debris in the form of nails, shingle material, wood, and even metal from the flashing around your chimney. Nails are particularly hard to locate and remove, but many companies now use powerful magnets that will pick them up.

Some companies leave debris or dumpsters behind; it’s important to know who is responsible for the cleanup and when it will be done.

  • Will they lay tarps over bushes and flowers?
  • How will they protect your deck and/or outside furniture?
  • If the company plans to use a dumpster for debris, when will it be delivered and picked up?

These are all valid and essential questions, and a reputable, experienced roofer won’t be surprised by any of them.

5. What warranties and maintenance packages do you offer?

After the work is done, you are left with your roof for the next 20-plus years. You need to make sure the roof is covered with at least a manufacturer's warranty, and a lot of companies also offer their own labor warranty on top of that.

You can help extend the lifespan of your roof by signing up for the contractor’s maintenance program. Under most maintenance agreements, a roofing crew will come to clean and inspect your roof annually; some roofing companies also offer gutter cleaning.

Why not get your roof and gutters cleaned at the same time, by the same company? More and more companies are offering multiple services, and one that handles all exterior work would be perfect for annual maintenance.

You Found a Roofing Company, Now What?

nail gun attaching shingles on roofWhen it comes time to sign a contract, make sure it includes all of the work you expect and want to have done and that all details and verbal promises are backed up in writing. The time estimate, cost, and materials should all be laid out for you in the contract.

As long as you read the contract carefully and are happy with everything, it’s time to get your roof fixed. If you need other exterior work like siding or gutters done, find out if the company also handles those types of jobs. All that’s left to do now is to enjoy your new roof and efficient, leak- and animal-free home.

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