Are you considering several bids? You might not be aware but going with the lowest bid may not be the most cost effective decision. The question to ask is not “What does the roof cost today?”, but “What is the annual cost to own this roof over it’s projected life?” Roof life can vary from as little as five years to 25 years or more, depending on the integrity of the system chosen and the quality of the workmanship during installation.
It’s important to hire a commercial roofing contractor who will deliver both a superior product and top quality workmanship, at a fair price. But how do you make that selection?
We’ll take you through some of the questions to consider when hiring a contractor.
The first step in hiring a contractor is to determine who you’ll be dealing with. Can the roofing company give you a point of contact who is polite, on time, and quick to return your phone calls? Do they have a person with sufficient experience to diagnose your roofing problems and provide an appropriate, workable solution?
You want someone with your best interests in mind, not just hoping to sign a contract. Will they try to sell you and expensive roof replacement when all that is needed is an inexpensive repair?
Find a commercial roofing contractor who responds to your phone calls within one business day. Feel free to ask for credentials.
Always ask for references and make a few calls to them to verify the quality and integrity of the contractor you’re considering. You want to get a sense of their reputation in the community before you award them the job.
If you find any reviews that are less than stellar, see how the company responded to their customer. Were they polite? Did they offer to fix their work? You can learn a lot about a company by the way they treat customers with complaints.
You should also take into consideration how long the company has been in business or if the company has recently been sold.
When looking for a contractor, always ask about their licenses and insurance. Do they background check their employees, conduct random drug testing and monitor their field crews for quality workmanship and safe behavior? A commercial roofing contractor should be able to provide proof of their license and insurance. If they can’t do this, you should walk away from the relationship. If a certificate of insurance is provided, take a moment to call the agency and verify coverage is in force. You don’t want to be held liable for water damage, falls or injuries on your property.
You may also ask how many years employees have been with the company. Do they have high turnover? If you have a choice between a cheaper, less experienced crew and an experienced crew, the decision is easy. Bear in mind competent, courteous, experienced crewman earn more… because they’re worth it.
Residential and commercial roofing are two very different disciplines. You need to verify your contractor has experience in commercial roofing specifically. Hiring a contractor should never be an experiment: pick a company that has decades of experience working on facilities like yours. If you’re a general contractor and seeking an experienced roofing company, check out some of the jobs they’ve done in the past. Were the clients satisfied? Did they arrive when needed, how did they work with other trades, was the installation trouble free and properly warranted?
Talk to your contractor about your building, including the interior winter and summer temperatures, type of work done in the facility, and concerns regarding the protection of your business, assets, staff and patrons. Various climates and building uses require different insulation systems, roof membranes and flashing details.
If you live in a warmer climate, consider installing a cool roof. You’ve got to live with your heating and cooling bills over the long term, so find out if your contractor can help you reduce them. There are a wide variety of roofing materials available – you will benefit for the long term with an honest, experienced contractor who can help guide you through the decision making process.
As noted above the annual cost to own a roof is the most important consideration. A roof system that costs $50,000 may seem like a huge savings over a roof costing $75,000. But if the more expensive roof will last twenty five years and the less expensive only ten the annual cost for the cheaper system is $5,000 and the more expensive $3,750. Also consider manufacturer requirements for documentation, inspections and annual maintenance costs. Some roof systems are virtually maintenance free, while others are not.
Other roof system differences must be considered as well. What type of insulation is included and what is the R value? What type of edge details will be used and will they enhance or detract building appearance? Does the roofing system meet local code requirements? Is it energy efficient? And of critical importance – does the contractor employ professional, skilled labor that will provide a quality installation and will the contractor stand behind his work?
You might be tempted to accept an ultra-low bid, but keep in mind that they’ll probably be using substandard materials and/or substandard labor. Saving money is important, but you have to realize you’re making a long term investment in your business facility.
Warranties vary widely in what is covered. Any honest contractor will provide a sample manufacturer’s warranty for your review. Read through it, ask questions, and recognize that all warranties are not the same. Just because a warranty says “20 years” doesn’t mean the coverage is of any value. Avoid warranties written by the contractor as a contractor typically will not have the resources to provide satisfaction in the event of a significant warranty claim.
If you have a colleague who has recently replaced their commercial roof, ask them who they used. If they’re satisfied, put in a quick call to get more information.
You have every right as a consumer to be treated fairly and with common courtesy. Never work with a commercial roofing contractor who doesn’t return your calls or who can’t give you a firm price.
We have been in business for 34 years and have completed successful installations in 41 states. We enjoy working with a wide range of clients. In fact, on an annual basis nearly 80% of our business is from referrals or repeat clients. Contact us and let us know how we may be of assistance to you!