Roofing materials consume but a relatively small portion of the bill for a roofing project, and the bulk will be going to the skilled labor involved. This makes choosing an experienced professional roofer an absolute must.


Finding Prospective Roofers


First of all, check the yellow pages only if you can't obtain recommendations from friends or neighbors, or your local lumberyard or home builders. 


It's good to start with at least two prospects. Each one should have been in business for a minimum of years -- roofers who do questionable work generally don't last that long.


Checking Out References


If they check out, ask them for names and contact details of a few of their old clients, and forget anyone who shows the slightest sign of hesitation. 


Inspecting Past Work


You have to spend time to do a drive-by inspection of these prospects' recent projects. See if the spaces in between individual shingle tabs (called water gaps) are in perfect alignment while alternating shingle rows. The shingles have to be trimmed clean on a line that runs along the valleys, and they should overlap the valley flashing.


As well, shingles on roof ends should be neatly trimmed and aligned with the edge of the roof - irregular lines mean poor quality work. At roof valleys and eaves, flashing should be neat and free of tar. If everything looks good, call references and ask them a few questions.


Must-ask Questions


For example, would they use the roofer again? Did the roof, at any time after installation, leak? If so, was the roofer courteous and prompt in their response, and were there charges for extra work?


Did they overshoot the budget, and if so, by what percentage of the original estimate? Were all extra costs justified?


Were any of their bushes or flowers damaged during or after the project, and were there  nails left lying in the driveway? Professional roofers clean up after themselves.



Did they have a foreman to talk to about their issues or concerns about the project, right from tear down all the way to installation?




Of course, aside from workmanship and price, there are other equally important matters for you to consider. Insurance for one. The roofer at should have both adequate coverage for both liability and workers' compensation. If they say they are insured, don't believe them straight away - ask for evidence.  




Insist on getting a warranty for labor-related defects like leaks and flashing failure. A one-year warranty is the minimum, though two or three years is preferable. The norm is one year, but two or three years is preferable. These very stipulations, plus the type of shingles they will use, should be included in the written contract. Choose the highest-rated shingles at that fit your budget.



Finally, most shingle makers provide 20 to 30 years of warranty, but take note that installing new shingles over old ones automatically voids the warranty. In short, you need to remove existing shingles first, usually for an extra cost.