Questions to Ask Before Signing a Pennsylvania Roof Contract

Major home improvement projects often come with a significant investment, proportionate to the importance of the project to the overall security, functionality, and aesthetics of the home. As a result, it’s crucial to consider several essential factors necessary for the ultimate success of the project before beginning. First among them is finding a reputable, skilled contractor to complete the project.

Why Should You Find a Quality Roofing Contractor in Pennsylvania?

An Erie Home Installer - Installing a Metal Roof.

Pennsylvania residents know that the task of finding a contractor isn’t always easy. In fact, in some cases locating a contractor who can perform the work you need, on the schedule you want, and at the price you’ve budgeted is more difficult than the task of enduring the renovation itself. However, it’s essential to carefully review any contractor you’re considering to weed out potential bad apples and ensure the contract and work will be up to your expectations.

That sentiment goes double for any roofing project in the Pittsburgh or Harrisburg areas. Pennsylvania winters can be brutal, with the summers humid and rainy. Because you depend on your roof to protect you, your family, and your possessions from both weather extremes, it’s crucial that you ensure the job is done right the first time. For that reason, it’s essential to do your due diligence when hiring a roofing contractor.

Do Your Homework

Even if you’ve identified a Pennsylvania roofing contractor you think may fit the bill, you’ll need to know more to be sure you’re not hiring the wrong company for the job. Doing your research and identifying the right questions before your meeting can help you remember to seek the most important information during the interview. To that end, we’ve compiled this list of tasks to complete and questions to ask before you sign a roofing contract:

  1. Do your background research. Your first step should be to research each company on your short list and compare online reviews, information from rating authorities like the Better Business Bureau, online directories, local Pittsburgh and Harrisburg business directories, and other measures of reputation. If possible, ask family and friends for recommendations or request honest feedback from current and former clients. In addition, require references and compare cost lists among the companies on your short list.
  2. Insist on credentials. Before proceeding with discussions regarding your roofing project, ask to see Pennsylvania state licensure, as well as insurance information. If someone from the roofing company experiences an accident while on the job, it’s crucial to confirm workers’ compensation and liability policies will cover the workers and protect you. In addition, some roofing companies serving Pittsburgh or Harrisburg may hold memberships in professional associations.
  3. Request an inspection (and then a timeline). Before any roofing company can give you an accurate quote, it will need to perform an inspection. This process gives the company a chance to assess the work you need to have done and determine how long the job will take. At this point, you can request a timeline for job completion, as well as what may extend the timeline.
  4. Inquire about permitting. Most Pennsylvania localities—Pittsburgh and Harrisburg included—require special permits for the completion of roofing work. Your roofing contractor should readily agree to get a permit first and appear knowledgeable about the process. If the contractor seems hesitant or refuses permitting, you may not be working with a contractor who is on the up-and-up.
  5. Ask about subcontractors. Some roofing companies hire subcontractors to handle part or all of a roofing job for them. Most Pittsburgh area subcontractors are skilled workers, but you’ll want to request information and view feedback regarding the subcontractors just as you did the roofing contractor itself. Ensure the subcontracting team is insured, licensed, and will seek permits to protect you from legal trouble.
  6. Inquire about safety, cleanup, and warranties. Ask your contractor what safety precautions the company takes while on the job—including workers as well as safety precautions to keep you and your family safe while work is ongoing. A related topic is the cleanup of roofing materials from your property and the warranties regarding labor and materials. You’ll want to ensure you’re not setting yourself up for dangerous cleanup work or an unsafe roof that will not stand up to the test of time.
  7. Get a firm estimate. Now that you and your contractor have a strong sense of the work to be performed, the permits required, and any subcontractors necessary, ask for a firm cost estimate. It’s also crucial to ask what, if any, situations could lead to increases in the estimate given to you. While it’s impossible to predict all the surprises that may happen, a reputable contractor should be able to list common issues and their approximate cost. Note—it’s wise to reserve an extra 10 to 15 percent for any unforeseen problems that arise during a roofing job to ensure you’re covered in the event of additional costs.
  8. Inquire about payment. When does your contractor expect a down payment, and how much is it? Which methods of payment does your contractor accept? If your contractor refuses to begin work without an unreasonable down payment (near or over 50 percent) up front or claims to accept cash payments only, be wary. A reputable contractor will not require a large cash payment, only to disappear before work is complete.
  9. Read the contract before signing. Unfortunately, many clients in Harrisburg and Pittsburgh admit to negotiating a solid verbal roofing contract and then failing to read the written version before signing. A written contract is a binding, legal agreement, and it’s crucial to develop a full understanding of what you’re signing. Be sure to retain a copy for your records, in the event a mishap occurs and legal action becomes necessary.

Make Sure Your Roofing Contractor Will Work for You

The considerations and questions listed above serve to gauge your roofing contractor’s level of expertise and professionalism and help you decide whether to hire this contractor. However, the knowledge you build during the process can help you become more informed about the roofing process and let you know what to expect during the job. If you see a red flag at any point in the process—or if your Harrisburg or Pittsburgh roofing contractor refuses to answer any of these crucial questions—you’ll likely want to find a more reputable professional to complete the job.

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