How to Pick 'Em: A Beginner's Guide to Finding a Good Contractor
We’ve all been there before. You walk into a nail salon, make friends with the nail girl and end up walking out with leopard print acrylics that are way too long. Ok, well maybe you haven’t been there, but we’ve all been talked into a sale that we have regretted at some point.
I consider living in the colorful state of Colorado a privilege, but there are drawbacks even to this; hail and wind are not insignificant ones. And with hail and wind come roofing salesmen (this can be a really good thing, people! There are operations out there that are indeed professional and accountable).
But how do you choose between the hundreds of roofing companies operating in Colorado? How can you tell who to trust with one of your largest investments (your home)? And why would you take advice from a girl that actually allowed herself to walk out of a nail salon with animal print nails?
Because while I may not know nails, I do know contractors-- the good and the bad. So, here are a few ideas on how to weed out the “chuck-in-a-truck” contractors from a professional that is sure to take care of your home as if it were their own:
* Never assume that all of the contractors that come to your door are operating a scam. It’s not the case. Reliable roofers were out knocking on doors and meeting the neighbors long before storm chasers discovered the industry of the Colorado hail storm.
Door-to-door roofing inquiries in neighborhoods that have experienced damages are the best way to see these damages first-hand and to understand each home’s condition in context of the area. It’s also a lot of work; I would guess that as a homeowner, it’s nice to know that someone has enough interest in working in your neighborhood to take a proactive approach by spending their day reaching out to neighbors.
*Check the Better Business Bureau. We pay the Better Business Bureau for the opportunity to market their lovely logo, but we do not pay them for gold stars and good reviews. You can rest assured that the BBB makes it their business to record all legitimate complaints made regarding their members.
Start with the BBB, but don’t stop there. Use other on-line resources (Google, Yelp, etc.) to find out whether or not your contractor is local. The promise of a workmanship warranty doesn’t do you much good if a leak springs up a few years after your roofing repairs and your contractor is nowhere to be found. You can expect that there will be excellent companies that have one or two negative reviews (you can’t please everyone all of the time), but the good should always outweigh the bad. Ask for references - then actually call them.
*Your roofer should be asking YOU questions. There are things any roofer needs to know about your house to thoroughly prepare for the job, and they should be genuinely interested in learning about your home. As a homeowner, you are an invaluable source of information regarding your house and its systems and components.
It’s unnerving to think that there are salesmen and contractors who will sit down to chat at your breakfast table –joke with your kids and find things in common with you – and then put a less than satisfactory roof over your head then pull a Houdini, never to be seen again. But know that there are excellent roofing sales reps and contractors out there as well, so take the selection of your roofing company seriously.
Conduct your due diligence with care; there are roofers who genuinely want to do good work for you and sustain a reputation that raises the roof.