How to choose the right roofer?

Roofing

How to choose the right roofer?

When choosing the right roofing specialist, there are some key issues you need to think about. In this article, we’ll take you through them step by step.

  • Choose someone with lots of specific experience
  • Make sure you get a detailed quote from each tradesman/helper you’re considering
  • Find out whether a tradesman/helper uses safety equipment properly
  • Make sure each tradesman/helper is upfront about equipment hire costs
  • Never pay full payment upfront in cash!
  • Make sure the work is completed to standard

Let’s look at each of these in a bit more depth.

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Choose someone with lots of specific experience

What sort of a roof do you have?

Thatching, slate tiling and flat roof repair work all require very different sets of skills, so look out for a tradesman/helper who has specific experience of doing similar jobs to yours.

Glen has been a roofer for 11 years, he explains:

“Make sure the tradesman you hire is really experienced in doing your sort of job, particularly if it’s a big project – like a whole new roof.

“Most roofers will be experienced in working with tiles and slates – but lots of flat roof projects include the use of fibreglass and other, more modern materials that some roofers won’t have much experience of working with.

“So make sure you hire someone who’s used those materials several times before – and preferably ask to see photos of their recent work.”

For big roofing jobs, in particular, check previous customer reviews on the site Helpers.ie. A good roofing specialist should have a number of reviews from previous customers. However, they might not be on the site long enough to have many reviews, in such case the tradesman/helper should be happy to introduce you to previous clients:

“Normally we’d show a potential customer our portfolio on Helpers.ie – or else we can show in person for example on an iPad. And if there’s a job that’s similar to the one the customer wants done, we’d offer to put them in touch with the person who had that job down, so they can go round there, chat to them and inspect the work.”

Get a detailed quote from each tradesman you’re considering

Every tradesman/helper should provide you with a clear and detailed written quote which gives a breakdown of all possible costs. These could include:

  • Labour – including the hire of any sub-contractors
  • Materials
  • VAT and any other taxes
  • Parking charges
  • Waste disposal costs
  • The hire of extra tools or equipment
  • Site security or facilities – like fencing or a portable toilet

Every quote should also explain the tradesman’s/helper’s charging structure (is it per hour, per day or a flat rate for the entire job?) and highlight when any payments would need to be made. For example – would you be expected to pay for any materials upfront? Or is the tradesman/helper happy to take payment for the whole project once it’s been completed?

Finally, each quote should include a step-by-step description of the process the tradesman/helper plans to go through to complete your job.

Make sure you get the same information from all the tradesmen/helper you’re considering – so you can compare like-with-like. And if you think the quote is missing any detail, don’t be afraid to ask.

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Find out whether a tradesman/helper uses safety equipment properly

There are various Work at Height regulations which every tradesman should adhere to. The Health and Safety Executive has produced a brief guide to what the regulations and guidelines mean in practice.

The use of scaffolding (as opposed to a ladder or cherry picker) isn’t always essential when roofing specialists are working at height; it depends on size and scale of the individual job. However, a roofer should be happy to explain to you how he plans to use his equipment safely, and in a manner compliant with the law.

Make sure each tradesman/helper is upfront about equipment hire costs

The hire of certain equipment is likely to incur significant costs – so it’s important the tradesman/helper you choose is upfront about any extra charges. Glen explains:

“In terms of the equipment a tradesman uses, it’s really just a matter of preference. For example, I never use scaffolding – if a job requires scaffolding I actually won’t take it on.

“There’s nothing wrong with hiring a roofer who does use scaffolding, but the homeowner should be aware that it’s expensive to hire, so the tradesman should be warning you in advance, before you commit to hiring them, about those added costs.

“Ideally they should include the cost of the scaffolding in their quote, separate from the cost of labour and any materials.”

Never pay in full upfront!

Some roofing specialists will be happy to wait until after work has been completed before receiving any payment.

Others may request a deposit first, especially for bigger projects. However, you shouldn’t have to pay more than 25% before the work begins; and never hire a tradesman who wants the full amount upfront.

According to Steven, you could even ask to delay payment further. He explains:

“Don’t be afraid to ask a roofer whether you can delay payment until it rains! That way you’ll be properly testing the repair. A good tradesman who is confident in his craft should have no problems with this.”

Make sure the work is completed to standard

Once you’ve chosen your tradesman/helper and the work has been completed, Glen explains that you should get more photos before you pay up:

“Make sure the tradesman/helper takes plenty of photos of the completed job and gives them to you. That way you can pick him up on anything that’s not quite right – like cracked tiles or the over-use of silicone – before you pay him.

“We actually send drones up to take pictures – particularly after big jobs. That way customers get an aerial shot of the house, and plenty of high-quality, detailed pictures of the work done, which they can easily zoom in on.

“If something goes wrong after the job is done, don’t be afraid to get another company in to inspect the work before you get the original company back out.

“That means you already have an expert, independent second opinion, if the original company tries to quibble over what needs doing. It’s just a bit of extra ammunition to have in your back pocket in case you need it.”

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