10 Essential Questions to Ask a Roofer

Posted by Marcos Bicalho

in Roofing

Essential Questions to Ask a Roofer

When it comes to safeguarding your home and ensuring its long-term structural integrity, the importance of a sound roof cannot be overstated. Whether you’re planning a roof replacement, repair, or a brand-new installation, finding the right roofer for the job is critical. Before you call several roofing companies for an estimate, you should have a list of questions to ask each roofer. The answers they give will help you narrow down your choices. And, by knowing what the answers should be, you will be able to tell if the roofer is trustworthy and reliable. There are many questions you can ask, but these are the essential questions to ensure you only hire an experienced and professional roofing company.

1.  What is the legal name of your business and how long have you been in the industry?

First ask your contractor what their legal business name is and how long they have been in the roofing industry. A quality business entity will have filed with their state so they can get the proper insurances and licenses to do business. Do a search on the state corporate database to see if they are a local business. Then do a search on that business name to see what comes up in the results. You want to be sure you are dealing with a legitimate business and not someone who will take your deposit and disappear or use low quality materials in place of what you paid for.

Then ask them how many years they have been in business. This question helps gauge their level of expertise, as contractors with more years of experience typically have a broader knowledge base and a better understanding of industry practices. While experience is valuable, it should be balanced with other factors such as qualifications, references, and past project successes.

2. Are you a local contractor?

Working with a local contractor provides a better experience for the homeowner because it is easier for them to promptly come and go from your place in case there is an emergency. A quality local roofing company will know the local roofing codes and the permits required. This helps ensure your roof is correctly installed and in compliance with your state’s requirements.

3.  Are you licensed and insured?

It’s important to work only with licensed contractors. A roofing contractor license ensures that they know what they are doing and that your money won’t go to waste because of poor workmanship.

Roofing contractors should have workers’ compensation and liability insurance. If they don’t have insurance, the responsibility and liability would fall to you if there is an accident.

  • Workers’ compensation covers you in the case of a contractor injury. If there is no workers’ comp, you may be responsible for medical bills and other costs associated with the injury.
  • Liability insurance protects you from damage caused by the roofers during repair or replacement. If your roof is installed by a contractor without liability insurance, you may not be able to make a claim if there is damage to your roof due to their poor workmanship.

Look up the necessary licensing requirements in your area so that you have a fair idea of the licensing the job requires. And always check the legal documents! Avoid any contractor who doesn’t provide insurance documents, licenses, or warranties.

4. Will you obtain the necessary permits for the roofing project?

Obtaining permits is a crucial step in ensuring that the roofing project complies with local building codes and regulations. It is crucial for the safety and structural integrity of the roof. By acquiring the necessary permits, the roofing company demonstrates their commitment to following the established standards and ensuring a properly constructed roof.

But it is also critical that the contractor pull the permit, not the homeowner. If you pull your own permit, you are responsible for any damages or injuries that may occur on your property. By entrusting the roofing company to obtain the permit, you transfer the responsibility to them. This way, you can have peace of mind knowing that the roofing project is being conducted in accordance with local laws and regulations and any issues will be handled by the roofing company.

5. Do you use subcontractors? If so, what is the experience and reputation of the subcontractors?

Some contractors will use subcontractors to handle roofing work. If your contractor uses subcontractors, then get verification that the subcontractor workers have workman’s compensation and general liability insurance. You might want to grab a waiver that protects you in case the contractor doesn’t pay his subcontractors.

Get information about the subcontractor’s experience and reputation. Most roofing companies do use subcontractors so it is good to understand the structure of their team, their experience with the type of roofing materials you are using and how they will complete the work.

Roofing contractors hire subcontractors to perform specific tasks on their behalf. However, they should still maintain overall responsibility for the project and ensure that the subcontractors meet the necessary standards.

6. Do you provide a written cost estimate, including labor and materials?

People need to know the estimated cost beforehand before signing up for a project. A good roofing company should always provide a free, written estimate that outlines the details of the work you are paying for. Requesting a comprehensive breakdown of the project cost, including labor and materials, allows you to assess the financial aspects of the job and make an informed decision.

A written estimate helps minimize surprises during the project. You’ll want to know the actual cost of tearing off the old roof, installing the new roof and disposing of debris. The estimate should outline other potential costs, like replacing the underlying plywood decking if they discover damage once the project starts.

By understanding the costs upfront, you can anticipate the financial aspects and plan accordingly. Additionally, it provides a reference point to ensure that the final invoice aligns with the initial estimate.

7.  Do you provide a warranty?

Ask the contractor for information on the manufacturer’s warranties for the roofing materials. You want to know your rights concerning defective products and what circumstances could void the warranty. In addition, ask the roofing contractor if they offer a warranty on their workmanship and for how long. A reputable contractor will stand behind their work and cover issues in the event there are problems.

A typical good roof with good quality shingles should have a warranty of 25 years. If a roofer tries to hand you a guarantee for a period less than that, then look for another company.

8. Can you provide references from previous jobs?

Good contractors will have no problems providing references from clients that they have previously worked for. Get references from recent projects and if possible, go see the workmanship. Some of the references may have provided reviews and uploaded pictures that can help you make you decision.

They will also have many reviews available through an internet search. Don’t worry about about a couple of bad reviews if there are many 5 star reviews. Read the reviews and get a good picture of how this contractor handles issues.

Do your homework so that you will also know what to expect.

9. Will you inspect my roof before you provide an estimate?

This is one of the important questions to ask a roofer because not all will do a detailed inspection before providing an estimate. Some companies will claim to save time and money by performing a simple visual inspection before installing a new roof over the existing one. By doing it this way, you may be covering up roof damage that should be addressed. If there are soft or rotten spots of plywood underneath the old shingles, roofing over an old layer of shingles will result in you having to do this project again sooner than you expect.

Ask the roofing company if they will inspect your roof, including your attic, to ensure they are providing an accurate estimate for the work. That means checking for leaks, high levels of moisture and proper ventilation. If your contractor declines to check the attic, then you shouldn’t hire him!

10. Will you remove the old shingles or just roof over?

You don’t need to know every little detail about how to install a roof. But you should understand how the roofing contractor will get the job done. You have to make decisions while hiring a roofing contractor and this is a good question to have with the contractors you interview.

While replacing the roof, you have two options: tear off the existing layer or roof over the existing roof. It’s best to be clear about the plan of action your roofing contractor has in mind. Keep in mind that, per the building code, a roof can’t have more than two shingle layers.

Applying a second layer of shingles on the roof isn’t always feasible. If your current roof has deteriorated, has structural damage or has mildew and mold on it, it’s best to peel off the old layer before new shingles are installed.

If your roof is structurally sound with a little bit of wear, you can go for layering to save some money. But don’t forget that it’s in the best interests of your home if the original layer is taken off, inspected, repaired and weatherized so that your home can withstand anything Mother Nature throws at it.


There are many questions you can ask a roofer, but these 8 are the important ones that you need to have solid answers. Looking for a trustworthy and reliable roofer can be stressful. As a homeowner, it is good to have a trusted roofing contractor that you can call on to handle your various roofing issues whenever they arise. Make sure you only hire the best roofer, but first get answers to these questions before dealing with them.