The unmistakeable sound that causes any homeowner to shudder… regardless of where its coming from, it usually is never good!

But this time its from the ceiling…the roof is finally leaking.

You have put off replacing your 25 year old roof for the last few years and it has finally caught up to you.

Now what?

What most people do is hop on google and find a couple roofing companies and ask them to come out and give them an estimate for a new roof.

Three different roofers come out and give you estimates to replace your roof and you get prices ranging from $5000 to $35,000!

But you know NOTHING about roofing and you have NO CLUE what to ask these roofers!

Here are 7 basic things to start with that will help you make a smart decision:

1. The basics: Insurances & Licensing

Ask the roofer to SEE a copy of his current MN or WI contractors license as well as active workers compensation and general liability policy. The insurance is especially important for you because if a roofer were to fall and become injured on your property and there isnt insurance coverage — you become personally liable for anyone on-site at your home…

2. Proper inspections

Does your roofer get up on your roof to inspect everything?

What about getting into your attic?

It is important that your roofer gets a complete upfront picture of what needs done with your roof BEFORE starting the project so you are not surprised with a  something like a nice change order mid-project to install new plywood decking because your roof boards are spaced apart…

The attic inspection is the most critical inspection that needs done. Your attic can tell many stories about how your roof is performing, for example – if you your insulation is matted down and stained in areas, you may have had leaking, or if the soffit vents are blocked by insulation, you may have no intake ventilation and you may have a negative pressure attic that pulls warm humid  air from your home which can cause condensation and many more things.

3. Materials and Warranties

Just like buying a car or a new washing machine, there is a wide range of roofing options for your home with a wide range in pricing, warranties, and bells and whistles.

Make sure to ask what your options are available to you and ALWAYS ask what warranty options are accompanying your new roof. If your roofer is not talking about their own labor warranty, there is a good chance that they are not offering anything at all!

4.  Property protection

The process of removing your old roof and disposing of it into a dumpster is a messy job. Especially in the Northland, where we routinely see windy days.

It is important to ask your roofer how they intend to protect the landscaping, decks, siding, and windows from falling debris and the use of construction equipment. Especially shrubs and gardens alongside the house – debris is nearly impossible to clean out from these spots and it is imperative that protection is in place in these spots.

Here is an example of how your roofer can protect your home:

5. Project Organization

Always find out who the on-site project manager or foreman is and get their contact information. This is critical in the event that you need to get ahold of someone on-site quickly but also is important to just be there to answer questions and concerns and keep you updated on the project.

Also, before the project starts you should be informed as to when the material and dumpster is scheduled to arrive and when the install date is scheduled so you can have time to arrange for a clear driveway, move easily damaged landscaping and patio things, and in todays day and age, make sure you don’t have work zoom meetings planned! (its fairly loud inside!)

6. Proper Installation

If the contractor is certified shingle installer by a large roofing manufacturer, they are required to install the roofing system to the manufacturer specifications in order for the roof system to warrantied. Double check with your roofer to see if they adhere to those specs.

A couple other important installation best practices are

– Making sure that the roof ventilation is properly calculated (its not rocket science but amazing how many roofers neglect to do this!)

– Masonry flashings on chimneys are properly replaced

– Wall flashings are replaced where the roof meets any walls

– Pipe flashings are replaced and properly sealed

– Ice and water barrier is installed the proper distance from the eaves

– Drip edge flashing is replaced

7. References and reviews

Check out your roofer on Google, FB, and other online reviews sites. This is IMPORTANT!

If you see something you don’t like, ask the roofer about it and see how they have addressed their negative feedback.

The internet is brutally honest and can expose a fraudulent or unethical contractor quickly.

Also ask for references. Call those references and ask how their experience was with the roofer.

Trust your gut, do your research and don’t just choose the cheapest roofer! There is a reason that roofers have the most negative ratings on BBB out of any industry – BY FAR!