In a country where it rains and then pours, it might make sense to invest in a good roof. However, this is easier said than done. There are enough charlatans who will leave you with a pesky drip or a persistent leak. Which is why it’s important to do your homework when choosing the right roofing contractor.
Several of the following points may seem obvious, but it’s a known fact that the simplest advice is the one most easily forgotten. For example, it’s often tempting to choose the cheapest roofer without stopping to consider just why his rates are so low. Perhaps his materials are cheaper, and therefore not quite up to the mark?
- Go for roofing contractors recommended by friends and relative, or by suppliers of roofing materials. Or you could look up on the internet or in trade adverts. As a rule avoid door-to-door salesmen.
- Whatever route you take, vet the company yourself. See how the representative is. Are they quietly confident and knowledgeable? Are they willing to provide you as much information as you need? Or are they pressuring you to make a decision before you are ready?
- Make sure you ask representatives for company details (so you can check if they are bonafide) and also for references from other customers. Ask for a portfolio that shows off their best projects (and hopefully happy smiling customers). See if you could personally go and check out the work they have done in the past.
- Make sure the company is registered in a national trade association, such as the NFRC (National Federation of Roofing Contractors) or the CRC (Confederation of Roofing Contractors).
- Check their insurance. Your contractor’s policy should cover Employers Liability, Public/Products Liability and Contract Works and you should be able to see it.
Finally, ask for their quotes (usually given free of charge). Get a few in, so you can compare. Three is ideal.
- While looking at the quotes be material savvy. Do your own research. For example, imported slate is very expensive, locally sourced slate is more economical, and manufactured slating, like fibre cement, is cheaper still.
- Bare in mind that estimates for refurbishment work can change once the tiles or slates have been removed to expose the sub-structure underneath.
- When you have honed in on the one you want to go with, make sure that the contract is in writing. Ensure this includes start and end dates, materials, work hours, safety precautions, warranties, any terms and conditions, deposits, and the right to cancel. Also, if it will involve any third parties, and lastly if they will clean up after themselves.
- Be careful on upfront payments as it may be difficult to get anything back. Contractors offering cash/VAT-free deals are not easily tracked down if things go wrong.
- Ask for a guarantee on new or refurbishment work. NFRC offers guarantee schemes, which back up, but are independent of, the contractor’s own guarantee. So if your contractor goes out of business, you are covered.
- Remember that a property owner is responsible for any planning permission that may be required. When carrying out refurbishment work to 50% or more of a roof’s area, a Competent Roofer (from the Competent Person Scheme for roofing) must be employed. Otherwise, your Local Authority Building Control must be contacted prior to work starting so as to meet thermal requirements of Part L of the current Building Regulations.
- Finally, before work starts make sure you clear enough space for building materials. Then, sit back relax and look forward to having the best roof over your head.