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Basic Considerations for Residential Roofing in Florida Part 3 of 3
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Basic Considerations for Residential Roofing in Florida Part 3 of 3

June 16, 2014 Construction Industry Legal Blog

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Roofing systems are an integral part of any new construction.  There are a number of things to consider when selecting a new roof system. Of course, cost and durability head the list, but aesthetics and architectural style are important, too. The right roof system for your home or building is one that balances these considerations.  This is a three part blog that will discuss basic residential roofing considerations in Florida.  Part I discussed the basic components and types of roofs.  Part II discussed the “Enemies” of your roofing system.  This Part III will discuss various factors and considerations in selecting a roofing contractor.

Buying a new roof system is an important investment. Before you spend your money, spend time learning how to evaluate roofing contractors. You should insist on working with a professional roofing contractor.  Specifically you will want a state certified or registered roofing contractor.  State certification requires verified experience and passing test results to obtain licensure.  Registered roofing contractors obtain a local competency card from the county jurisdiction and register that card with the State of Florida.  They are only allowed to contract for roofing in the local jurisdiction that issued the competency card.   After 5 years they can seek to grandfather their local license to a state certified license.

All roofing contractors are not alike. The following guidelines will help you select a roofing professional:

  • Check for a permanent place of business, telephone number, tax identification number and, where applicable, a business license.  Check the state of Florida for a roofing license. The DBPR has a website and smart phone app that checks licenses.  Any work done on a roof without a license constitutes unlicensed work and is illegal.
  • Don’t hesitate to ask a roofing contractor for proof of insurance. In fact, insist on seeing copies of his liability coverage and workers’ compensation certificates.  Many times the roofer will have a workers compensation exemption and hire temporary labor.  Make sure those laborers are properly covered under the temporary labor employer.
  • Make sure that all applicable coverage is in effect through the duration of the job.  Check the insurance declarations page to see the policy period. Many building and home owners have been dragged into litigation involving uninsured roofing contractors. Also, if a contractor is not properly insured, you may be liable for accidents that occur on your property.
  • Make sure the contractor is financially stable. A professional roofing contractor can provide current financial information about his company.  He may not want to but it does not hurt to ask.
  • Look for a company with a proven track record that offers client references and a list of completed projects. Call these clients to find out whether they were satisfied.
  • Insist on a detailed, written proposal and examine it for complete descriptions of the work and specifications, including approximate starting and completion dates and payment procedures.  Never pay more than 10% of the contract price as a deposit.  More and more roofing contractors are requiring 50%+ deposits and never doing any work. Never pay more than 10% for a deposit.
  • Have the contractor list the roofing manufacturers with which his firm is a licensed or approved applicator. Most roof systems require special application expertise to achieve lasting quality.
  • Have the contractor explain his project supervision and quality-control procedures. Request the name of the person who will be in charge of your project, how many workers will be required and estimated completion time.  Check to see if the license number is on their work trucks.  No license number usually means temporary or unlicensed labor.
  • Check to see if the contractor is a member of any regional or national industry associations, such as NRCA. Being a member of industry associations demonstrates a commitment to professionalism.
  • Call your local Better Business Bureau or Department of Professional Regulation to check for possible complaints filed against the contractor.
  • Carefully read and understand any roofing warranties offered, and watch for provisions that would void it or waive it.
  • Choose a company committed to worker safety and education. Ask the contractor what type of safety training he provides for his workers and what industry education programs they have attended. The best roofing contractor is only as good as the workers who install the roof system.
  • Keep a healthy skepticism about the lowest bid. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Many fly-by-night contractors’ below-cost bids seem attractive, but these contractors often are uninsured and perform substandard work.
  • Check the internet.  Google reviews can paint for you a picture of how this contractor has treated prior customers.

Be very cautious about hiring your roofing contractor from a door to door salesman.  Recently, hail storms have hit Northeast Florida.  These roofing contractors will go door to door trying to solicit roofing work just hours or days after the storm damage.  They are called “storm-chasers” and they typically are high volume roofing contractors. This situation is absolutely ripe for the contractor to accept payment and then never do the work.  They will have you execute an “assignment of benefits” such that they collect payment directly from your insurance company.  The perceived immediate need for roof repair should not forestall your initial investigation as suggested above. Remember, price is only one of the criteria for selecting a roofing contractor. Professionalism, experience and quality workmanship also should weigh heavily in your decision.

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