Everyone wants to get a good deal no matter what it is they are buying. There is nothing worse then feeling like you were taken advantage of and unfortunately there are many people out there that make their livings doing just that. The question is how do you avoid such a situation? How do you make sure that you are getting the absolute best price on that new roof, without sacrificing quality. It is not an easy thing to do and our recommendation is that you approach it from several different directions.
First, you need to compare the materials that they are proposing to use. Is it a quality shingle? How about the underlayment? How many feet are they going to use of ice guard? There is no need to go over board here, as many roofing companies will try to confuse you by exclusively “system selling”. This means that they have a strong relationship with a certain manufacturer, typically supplemented through rebates, and are thus motivated to sell the complete system on every job. Yes, most manufacturers do make go underlayment, ice guard, and even vents. But they are definitely not the most cost effective. It is like taking you car into the dealership every time you need an oil change or tire rotation. The service is usually good, but you can get the same exact job done done the street for half the price. The easiest way to check out a shingle is to go to consumer reports and see what they have to say. They are completely independent and accept no money for their services from the manufacturers. They test across a multitude of areas and even though it is not the bible, it is the easiest way for most consumers to at least get an honest opinion.
Now, lets move onto an intangible subject; how to determine what the actual roofing company is worth. They say they are the best price roofers in Michigan, but you need to ask yourself why? You have already determined that they are using quality materials, now you need to figure out how they are keeping the rest of the cost down. Make sure they have insurance, both workman’s comp and liability. It is quite often for roofing contractors to provide expired or even fraudulent insurance policies so it is not a bad idea to call to verify its legitimacy. The next way to keep costs down is through volume, so find out how many roofs they do annually. The more work they do the better prices they can get from the suppliers and the more savings they can pass along to you. If the number is below 500 a year, it is time to ask the follow up question. Who do they have working for them? If the guy out giving you an estimate is the same one that is going to be working on the roof, then you know you are just dealing with a couple trades working out of their own house and not a real company. Even if this is not the case, try to make sure that they are not just driving behind home depot to pick up some day laborers to complete the work. You want a full time roofing crew working on your house, and it is not unreasonable to ask for local addresses of work recently completed so that you can verify the quality of the install. Also, ask for personal references so that you can speak with past customers if you are at all uncomfortable.
The last thing you need to consider is how long the company has been in business. The longer they have been in business, the more likely they are to stay in business. There are a hundred new roofing companies that pop up every year, and hundreds more that are forced to close down shop. It makes more sense to pay a little bit more to hire a company that is going to actually be able to service their work then to hire an amateur roofer that will be out of business within a few years. Many times these contractors are not the best business people and run into cash flow problems. They end up using the deposit they take from one job to pay for the material on another. When they finally do fold, they end up leaving jobs half finished and suppliers place liens on customers properties. A very ugly situation to say the least, and something definitely not worth risking to save a couple hundred bucks.