Choosing the right company for your roofing project
Among the realties of the roofing industry is this: Not all roofing companies are created equal. So, how do you determine whom to trust with your project? Ask questions to help you choose the right company.
1. Are they a local company or a "storm chaser?"
Given the amount of hail we've experienced in the last few years, the Black Hills area has become a lucrative place for storm chasers to set up shop and take millions of dollars out of our community. And, once they've filled their pockets, they move on to the next storm-damaged area. Be smart. Choose a local contractor. And, understand that just because they say they're local, doesn't mean they are. There are numerous companies based in other states claiming to be from Rapid City to Spearfish to Hot Springs. They'll come to town, rent a building, get a local phone number and try to convince you they're a locally-owned business. Don't be afraid to ask questions about their business and be prepared to do a little research on your own. A computer with Internet access will tell you whether or not what they've share with you about their business is the truth. A good follow-up question is: "Where were you this time last year, or the year before?"
2. What is their structure? Are their roofing crews employees or subcontractors?
In addition to the storm chasers, the hail has brought roofing crews into the area as well. Many contractors, including 1•2•3 Roofing, Seamless & SolarTM subcontract their work to roofing crews from out of the area. This, by itself, is not uncommon and as long as the work is acceptable, there should be no issue with this type of relationship. Every year is different, however most often; our roofing season starts mid-April and ends mid-October. From a purely business standpoint, if my crews are employees, I am forced to lay them off for the remaining months. This gets expensive for contractors must pay unemployment and the associated expenses, which drives up the cost of your roof. As an alternative, we hire crews as subcontractors, pay them well during the time when work is available and weather permits. When weather turns bad, we all take a needed vacation. And many subcontracting roofing crews go on to warmer climates or do other kinds of work in the winter. During summer months, we average 12- to 14-hour days, six days a week. After working at that pace for several months, some time off is welcome. I tell my customers roofers are like teachers, except we get our break from December through February.
3. Are they fully licensed and insured?
Believe it or not, the requirements to receive a roofing license in Rapid City are extremely minimal. To provide roofing services in Rapid City, companies are required to take a 13-question, OPEN BOOK test, pay a $200 license fee and show they have business general liability insurance and a state excise tax license. That's it! There is no requirement to post a bond payable to the city and no research is done to determine a contractor's reputation or history. And, every community in the Black Hills has different requirements, including Belle Fourche, Spearfish, Lead, Deadwood, Sturgis Whitewood, Wall, Hill City, Keystone, Custer, Pringle, Hot Springs and Edgemont and every community in between. In addition, a contractor is NOT required to carry workers compensation insurance on subcontracted crews. Protect yourself and ask for proof of insurance, including policy numbers and phone numbers for their general liability insurance carrier. Then ask who is carrying workers compensation insurance for their crews. Often, the subcontractor carries this coverage, but that is not always the case. The last step is to be sure to call and verify the information you've been given.
Finally, if you are like most people and realize your roof protects your family and the valuable contents of your home, a few minutes invested in researching your options will be time well spent. A good company is here for the long term and will be happy to discuss, not only your project, but the company as well. A good company should be willing to share details of the business. At 1•2•3 Roofing, Seamless & SolarTM, we care about your project and we want your business today as well as the next time you need help.
Please feel free to print and use this downloadable worksheet PDF to help you choose the right contractor for your project. Best wishes and good luck with your project!