In the decade that I have been roofing I have ultimately discovered that roofing contractors fall into two basic categories.
Category 1 roofing contractors are businesses that are in it solely for the money. They practice shoddy workmanship, often times installing roofing products to minimum or substandard levels. In most cases their poor workmanship voids the manufacture warranty due to improper installation. If you’re lucky they offer some type of warranty, but you can rest assured that even if something does go wrong within the warranty period, getting the repair done will be like pulling lions teeth. Additionally, because the warranty term is often very short, their substandard work manages to make it to the end of the paltry warranty period, leaving the homeowner with no recourse when things do go bad. Believe me, they will go bad! Which begs the question: How can a roofing business perform so badly? The reason for this substandard workmanship can be for many reasons, but chances are that it all boils down to two primary reasons:
- As I stated they’re in it solely for the money. What this means is that Category 1 roofing contractors underbid other roofing contractors so they get the job. As such, the lower bid means that the profit margin is going to be smaller, which in turn equates to the contractor making a sacrifice on the quality of the materials, installation of those materials, and the overall quality of the work performed.
- The second reason that Category 1 roofing contractors provide substandard workmanship is that their employees are not paid a decent wage. By decent wage, I mean that they pay an hourly wage of $12 to $15 per hour while they themselves make thousands of dollars. Further, besides earning poor wages the employees are forced to perform their roofing duties with cheap and/or inadequate materials. For instance, I once had to do repairs on a roof that was only three years old and the shingles were blowing off. This was due to the fact that there were only four nails in each shingle, and the nails were installed too high on the shingle. Skimping on materials and improper installation are common in this category.
Category 1 roofing contractors are a dime-a-dozen and they are usually not around for very long. They get their money and run, and everyone looses. The best way to avoid falling victim to them is by doing a little research.
Category 2 roofing contractors are businesses that like to implement their professional roofing skills, providing a quality service that earns them a good reputation in the community. They provide quality workmanship that meets or exceeds the manufacturer’s installation specifications, and each and every job is performed with 100% attention to detail. Because category 2 roofing contractors care about their reputation, they offer a workmanship warranty to guarantee that the homeowner is always covered should any problems arise with the installation of their new roofing system. Like the category 1 roofing contractors the reasoning behind these high ethical workmanship standards are essentially two fold:
- While earning a decent living, the category 2 roofing contractor is not in it solely for the money. Albeit their roofing bid may be on the higher end of the scale, however, they use only the best quality materials that meet or exceed manufacturer specifications. Their overall objective is quality service, a competitive price, and 100% customer satisfaction. If something ever goes wrong you can rest assured that a skilled roofing technician will promptly arrive and remedy the problem, no questions asked.
- Category 2 roofing contractors employ professional roofers who earn a decent wage for making certain that each and every job is performed professionally. The employees are provided with all of the necessary materials and tools, and overall they enjoy the work they perform. These employees understand the importance of customer satisfaction and accept nothing less than 100% workmanship quality. They do not skimp on materials, and they are trained to always install the roofing system in compliance to manufacturer warranty specifications.
Category 2 roofing contractors are prevalent in most communities and their businesses are well established. They have earned the respect and credibility in their community and in most cases they are easy to find. They have been around for 10 or 20 years, and they plan on staying around.
In conclusion to this anatomy of a roofing contractor I wish to note that this analysis is but merely a generalization based upon my own personal experiences. Although there are actual roofing contractors and employees alike who clearly fit in either of the two categories listed above, there are those too who fall somewhere in the gray area that lies between. They may or may not have your best interest at hand, or they simply charge an arm and a leg for their very high quality services. Moreover, if you are a homeowner and you are reading this, please take heed to one very critical fact about choosing the best roofing contractor. The cheapest bid is not always the best bid, and although it is common practice to simply get three bids, it certainly will not hurt to get five, ten, or even a dozen bids for your roofing project.