Hire a Pro Advice: Install a New Roof

Get help finding a roofer or roofing contractor to install a new roof and advice about what should be in a written contract with a roofing contractor.

By Gene and Katie Hamilton

A new roof is a big ticket item so do your homework looking for a roofing contractor. Ask family and friends for references and if you don't know anyone, drive around your neighborhood with a lookout for a new roof installation. Follow the progress of the job and when it's completed ask the homeowners if they're pleased with the results. This can take time, but it's a major investment you want to take on wisely.

Choose a roofing contractor who has been in business in the area for a long time and who has experience installing the type of roof you want. Most of them install asphalt shingles, but if your roof is wood, slate or metal, choose a roofing contractor with experience installing that type of roof. If yours is a historic house with numerous eaves and valleys in the roof, look for a contractor who specializes in older homes. A roofer who does a lot of new construction is not a good choice for an old house that often requires custom work because it's one-of-a-kind.

Take the time to inspect recent jobs by the contractor you choose. Look at the spacing between single tabs. They should be straight as they alternate shingle rows. The shingles should be trimmed along valley flashing where they overlap. At the edge of the roof the end shingles should be trimmed and aligned with the edge. The flashing at roof valleys and eaves should be neat and free of tar.

Ask the homeowner about how the roofer left the yard and areas surrounding the house. The roofer is responsible for leaving the area clean and removing old shingles, nails and other debris. If a trash bin, also called a roll-off container, is used for the old roof and debris, discuss where it will be parked. If a permit is required, ask who will obtain it.

Also discuss if the roofer's truck will be parked on the lawn near the house. Often tire ruts from a truck can cause serious damage to the lawn, especially during rainy season when the ground is soft.

Here are the basic points that should be included in a written contract with a roofer to install a new roof:
  • Description of the work to be completed
  • Roofing material to be used including the manufacturer, style, color and grade of roofing
  • Manufacturer's warranty for roofing material
  • Warranty for leaks, flashing failure or any defects caused by a faulty installation
  • Preparation work required
  • Removal and disposal of old roof and debris
  • Protective measures against damage to shrubbery and plantings
  • Proof of liability insurance and workman's compensation coverage by the contractor
  • Cost of material, labor and payment schedule
  • Job installation start and completion date