Understanding Your Roofing Contract

what to look for in a roofing contract

By Dymon Brady

Are you ready to choose a roofing contractor?  Many home and building owners are left to make a decision of who to hire to work on their roof based on a stack of estimates and roofing contracts.  In this competitive market, is it always best to choose the lowest price?  Here’s how to pick a high quality roof for the lowest price possible.

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Pick an Established Contractor

First of all, it is important to be sure that you are choosing a reliable contractor that will not leave you with any loose ends when the job is done.  A professional contractor will use an established form for their roofing contract.  Avoid any company that hands you a proposal put together in a word document.

Another easy indicator of an established company is the existence of a logo, address and phone number.  The presentation should be professional and organized.

To the right, an example of a roofing contract is set out in a word document that is filled with other red flags as well.

Not surprisingly, this roofing company has a majority of negative reviews scattered throughout the internet, including this shocking update:

“Update:  I just replaced the 2 year old roof that ____ Roofing put up.  _____ Roofing had not put on an Ice shield, some of the old shingles were still there and boards that clearly needed to be replaced had not been replaced. I have a pretty easy roof to shingle.  _____ Roofing managed to screw up the job every step of the way.  Note, my old roof never leaked, but the new roof leaks regularly.  It has been 3 years of them coming back on a regular basis to “fix” the roof, yet it leaks at every major downpour.”

As you can see, the professionalism shown in the contract is often a reflection of the professionalism of the company in general.

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Keeping Yourself Informed

A roofing proposal should be detailed.  For example, if a bid says “replace roof with new shingles, ice shield, underlayment, flashings and turtle vents”, you are left with very little information that you can actually compare to other bids.

Where will the ice shield be installed?  How much is being used?  Salt Lake City roofing contractors differ on this issue in particular.  Ice shield is very important in extreme climates like the one we see in Utah.  It is necessary to install ice shield 2 feet inside the exterior walls.  Many contractors will only put one row of  ice shield.  This will cause problems throughout the winters ahead.

What type of underlayment is being used?  For example, they may install a 15 lb or 30 lb synthetic felt.  If one company has a lower bid, this is a good place to check for where quality may differ.  There is a big difference between lowest grade and highest grade underlayment.  Underlayment is an important second defense to prepare against periodic leaks, especially in Utah.

Other details to check are what type of shingles are being installed and how they will be installed.  In Utah, it is a good idea to go with 6 nails per shingle.  It makes a big difference during high winds throughout the second half of the life of your roof.  Also, be sure to check on the type of flashings (are they new or reused?) and ventilation.

Security

Look for an upgrade warranty that doesn’t cost too much more for an upgrade for the entire roof.   A good warranty will leave you with added security.  This can be well worth the extra investment.

Also, to be sure that the contract is binding, signatures should be exchanged.

In the end, be sure to read the descriptions of the different bids.  It is very easy to compare apples to oranges.  One roofing company may be offering a much lower price, but really charging more for the work they are performing, while leaving out other vital details.

If you do have a contract that has a significantly higher price, ask the contractor to explain the details to you so it is easier to understand the differences.  Chances are, they will be more than happy for the opportunity to explain their plans to you and find solutions that you will be satisfied with.

Below you may review one of our recent roofing contracts to get an idea of what detail and format you can look for in a roofing contract.

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