How to Hire a Roofer for Your Home

fixing a roof shingle
Most of the costs associated with roofing are actually for the skilled labor rather than the materials themselves.

Whether you’re considering slate with copper flashing or something a little more modest, a new roof is a major investment that typically costs thousands of dollars.

The materials themselves represent a relatively small portion of the bill. The bulk of what you’ll spend goes for the skilled labor involved. And that makes choosing an experienced pro the best way to protect your investment and ensure a leakproof job.

Simple, right?

Unfortunately, roofing is an easy-entry business that requires little more than a pickup, a ladder and some basic tools to get started.

man getting on roof safely
Lesser-quality roofing companies typically don’t last much longer than 5 years.

How to Find a Qualify Roofer

Search the web for “Roofing” only if you can’t get a recommendation from a neighbor, a friend or someone at your local lumberyard or home builder’s association.

Gather at least two prospects, and make sure each has been in business at least five years — roofers who do shoddy work usually don’t last that long.

Start your prospect check with availability. There’s no reason to waste time if they’re booked until next year. Get names and addresses of references, and drop any contractor who balks at providing them.

Then do a drive-by inspection of a few recent jobs. Check that the spaces between individual shingle tabs, known as water gaps, line up laser-straight as they alternate shingle rows.

Make sure that shingles are trimmed in a clean line along the valleys where they overlap the valley flashing.

On roof ends, shingles should also be neatly trimmed so they align with the roof edge. Ragged lines mean slipshod work. Also look for neat, tar-free flashing at roof valleys and eaves.

If the roofs stand up to scrutiny, call references directly and ask them the following questions:

  • Would you use this roofer again?
  • Did the roof leak? If so, did the roofer respond promptly, was he courteous and did he charge you for any additional work?
  • Did the job come in on budget? If not, by how much did he exceed budget? Were the extra charges justified?
  • Did the roofer damage any bushes or flowers, and did he leave nails in the driveway? Flat tires are a common complaint during and after a roofing project. Good roofers pick up any dropped nails with large rolling magnets throughout the job.
  • Was a designated foreman available to address your concerns during both the tear-off and installation of the new roof? (These jobs are sometimes done by different crews.) You want a point person for questions and concerns you have throughout the job.

When a roofer comes by to look over your job and work up a price, note his appearance. Pride extends beyond the job site. If he isn’t clean enough to sit at your breakfast table, do you really want him working on your house?
Then detail the full range of your expectations. Find out who will do the work and the foreman’s name. And get everything in writing.

Private mortgage insurance folder for home finance
Better roofing companies will have more than $1 million in liability insurance. (DepositPhotos)

What to Look for in Quality Roofer

If you like what you see, it’s time to verify that the roofer carries workers’ compensation coverage and at least $1 million of liability insurance. Get his agent’s name and proof-of-insurance certificates. Then get an estimate, which should be free.
Because roofing is a short-term job, break up the total due into two payments: one-third up front for materials, and the remainder when the roofing and cleanup are done to your satisfaction.

Also insist on a warranty that covers leaks, flashing failure and other labor-related defects. A one-year warranty is the minimum, though two or three years is preferable. These same stipulations should go into the contract, which should also include what type of roof will be used. Request the highest-rated, longest-lasting shingles you can afford.

Shingle manufacturers generally back their products for 20 to 30 years. Some warranties are void if shingles are put on over existing shingles, so tearing off the existing layer could be required, at an additional cost. Asphalt roofs last 13 years on average, so a 20-year warranty should be fine. Just be sure you get the paperwork and proof of purchase needed to pursue any problems down the road.

Installing a metal roof.

Getting a Quality Roofing Job

Several other quality checks will also help you ensure a leakproof job for decades.

  • Replacing valley and eaves flashing is cheapest and easiest when reroofing, so do it now. Also have pipe boots or roof jacks replaced to direct away water where pipes or gas vents protrude. Leave chimney flashing alone if it’s in good shape; otherwise, have the roofer call in a mason.
  • Now is also the time to make sure you have proper attic ventilation. Have it checked by the roofer or an HVAC contractor. Poor airflow can heat an attic to 130°F in summer. In winter, moist interior air can condense on the underside of the sheathing, rotting it. You may want to have ridge and soffit vents installed to circulate cool air into the attic, alleviating both problems.
  • If you suspect some of the plywood decking beneath the shingles is rotted, put a small allowance, say $200, in the contract for replacing it. Clearly state that you must approve any charges above this amount, and that you get the money back if the decking is in good condition.
  • Ask how the roofer will protect bushes and plants (roofers usually use plywood). Draw clear lines of responsibility for any damaged plants.
  • Find out how the trash will be disposed of and nails picked up. Be sure Dumpsters or trucks used for garbage pickup don’t roll onto a new lawn or over an underground sprinkler system. What’s more, there should be thick plywood under Dumpster or truck wheels to protect the turf or driveway. An alternative is to pay extra and have the old shingles carted by hand to the curb.

Finally, trust your intuition. If a roofer rubs you wrong, even at the contract stage, don’t be afraid to back out before signing, and resume your search. Unless water is pouring in overhead, it pays to take your time on this major investment.

Further Information


  1. Everything they say in here is true.. check you Roofer carefully ; if you are gettinga speciality product like Metal shingles /or membarne EPDM roof for low slope roofs. Make sure your Roofer is certified to put the product in. Call the manufacturer, they know who is CERTIFIED in the craft. WWithout a certified installer you run the risk of your warranty being declared invalid if any ‘problems’ arise with the installation.

  2. Should a new roof include new flashing around the chimney? I have leaks around both chimneys but he didn’t say anything about flashing when he gave me an estimate. I just assumed that was part of it.

  3. I had a new roof put on my home last June. I was up pointing my chimney up with my husband and a noticed a funny looking shingle like it had been pulled out from the others. I went over to it and lifted it and underneath there was a hole no plywood of anything. I felt around and ot appeared to be hallow ina basketball size round areas. Also we walked on the roof and it felt really mushy in spots like we were going to fall through it. I’m sick to death knowing I paid almost $8,000 and my roof isn’t properly done.

  4. However, you say nothing about flat roofs. Kinda difficult to check the work just driving by.

    I live in the Phoenix area, and I’ve seen “This Old House” refer, on houses on the East Coast, some kind of roll-out sheet for a seal AND Elastomeric AND a mesh fabric to hold it all together.

    However, in the heat of summer, I’m not sure about such a tight seal, even with under-eave venting and those “onion” vents that turn in the wind. Don’t you need it to breathe through the roof surface so, during the summer, heat doesn’t build up in space between the ceiling and the roof?

    So, what are the answers on flat roofs? When installing a new, flat roof, is it preferable to pitch it a little so water can run off more easily?

  5. Bob,

    Although Lone Mountain isn’t in AZ, we have been specializing in flat roofs (and only flat roofs) for over 25 years. We have a flat roof video available on our website ( and on YouTube.

  6. A few people have asked about flashings. Flashings ARE the most important part of a roof installation. A steep slope roof will almost never leak in the field of the roof, that is the vast majority of leaks in a shingled roof come from flashings.

    The roofing contrator should include flashing in the roof proposal. Make sure to get a written proposal with specific scope of work details, including materials to be used.

    Flashings should be comprised of aluminum or copper. The chimney is the most comprehensive flashing system and the contractor should have experience with this.

  7. A few items to consider when hiring a roofer:

    How long have they been in business?

    How available have they been? (consider the ability to contact the contractor, if you have difficulty when they are still trying to earn your business – imagine if you are trying to get them to return for a leak call)

    Do they have a physical office? (without an office, the contractor is less likely to be around 5 years from the installation)

    Are they insured? Have they worked locally, do they provide references?

  8. When asking a contractor for referrals, what company in their right mind would give a referral of a bad customer or a job that went wrong???????? Lets be honest, 5 times out of 10 they probably give an address of a relative or friend, and even if you do get a reference of a true customer – as an everyday “Joe” how would I the customer know the difference between a bad job and a good one? If I the customer don’t know the difference between a “3D shingle” and a “dimensional shingle” as the true term, how will I know the difference between anything else that I am looking at?

  9. I live in northeast Mississippi. I am a widow with no family or friends who can advise me. I live fundamentally on social security …. money is so limited …. but its urgent that I get a new roof. The present one is almost 30 years old, and I have a huge leak. What is the least expensive, most economical type of roofing material I should select? It doesn’t matter if it doesn’t last as many years as others. I’m 80+ years old. It will certainly outlive me. I really need your help with this and any advice on choosing a contractor or any pointers in this area. Thank you so very much. I hope this reaches you, because I feel you will try to help me if you see this message. Thanks again.

  10. Which should we replace first, the gutters or the roof? Underneath i believe it’s called the soffit n fascia, iit’s wood with tiny metal louvers that the painter painted when he painted the wood. Should I replace and update that too? We built the house in fall of 1988.
    Thank you

  11. This article was written 8 years ago, Yellow Pages are not the way to go, check online reviews, Yelp, Angies List, Google Reviews. Select a contractor with a RECENT reviews, sometimes a company is sold, new owner, same company name.

  12. Roofing is a very large expense. I can see why it would be so important to make sure you have a great roofer! I like how you said to check with other people, and their experiences with their roofers. Thank you so much!

  13. My family is looking to hire a roofer to fix up some leaks in our roof and this article really helped me see what I should be looking for. I would have never thought to ask for a warranty on the work provided but I will definitely do that when we find our guy. Thanks for helping me see how important the roofer actually is in the process!
    Bill Barnett

  14. I appreciate you talking about how to hire a great roofer. Last year, we had to replace our roof, and we did basically what you are suggesting here. We got referrals from friends/neighbors and got estimates from a few different places. We checked out recent jobs they did and we ended up getting a roofing company that we were very satisfied with. It was a bit stressful at first, but I think doing our homework paid off. Thanks for the info!

  15. Very good points Danny,

    I talk to new customers everyday in an attempt to maximize their insurance proceeds. I’ve found that the more I educate myself about homeowners insurance and the claims process, the more value they see in not only my service but also how accuracy gets the claim approved. There are many people out there wanting to make a quick dollar. Remember, a lower price doesn’t equate to better craftsmanship or better roofing solutions. Your roofing company shouldn’t have any issues with answering your questions, in fact I find educating them helps insurance agents retain loyal customers.

  16. Also, make sure the company pulls a building permit, and when the job is finished, BEFORE you pay the contractor, check with the building inspector to make sure all required inspections have been done. I hired John Bean Roofing to do my roof and years later when I went to put my house on the market, I found out the building inspector has no record of the work being inspected, which is a snag in the sale of my house. I tried to reach out to the company, John Bean Roofing but they only have an answering service, you can’t speak to them directly and they haven’t returned my calls.

  17. We really need a new roof. Our asphalt shingles are practically falling off, so this is great to know. I like how you said that we should find someone who offers a good warranty. I’ll be sure to check for that!

  18. I appreciate your suggestion to call references and ask if the project was completed under the budget. My husband and I need to have our roof replaced, but money is a little bit tight, so we have a very strict budget that we need to keep. When we’re talking to references, we’ll definitely make sure to see if the roofer stuck to the budget pretty closely or not. That’s critical for us, so that’ll be a huge factor in our final decision.

  19. I really liked your tip to check with your roofer’s past clients so that you can know if they will be a good match for you. I have been thinking of getting sheet metal on my roof, and I want to make sure that the job gets done well. I will be sure to check the past clients of my roofer.

  20. I like the tip you gave to contact a roofer’s references to see if they are reputable and worth hiring. My roof lost a few shingles to the wind last night, so I need to find a roofer to replace them before it rains. I will be sure to check their references before I decide to hire them.

  21. There have been some really bad storms in my area lately and they have damaged my roof. It is good to know that I should check the company I am looking into hiring has been in business for at least five years. That does seem like a good thing for me to know because I want to get a good repair job done on my home.

  22. Decent post. I was looking for this sure information for quite a while.This post gives really quality data. thankyou for posting.

  23. My husband and I need some work done on our roof, and I appreciate your tips for choosing a roofer. Checking the yellow pages is a good idea, for sure. We’ll be sure to call references and ask them the questions you suggested, as well.

  24. I really like the idea of asking your family and friends about who is good to to hire. That way you can have someone else experiences to base your decisions off.

  25. Hello!
    The questions to ask previous clients are good, it will give new clients an idea how the roofer does his job. It is also important that the roofer and client have a clear understanding about the project specially the cost of it so that there will be no hassle when the project already starts.

  26. I like your idea to do a drive-by inspection of some of the roofer’s recent jobs. My brother needs to find a roofer for repairs. Your article would make it easier for him to identify the right roofer to use!

  27. Thanks for explaining the need to call references directly and ask for references. My wife and I are looking to replace our roof and need a company in our area. I will be sure to find a contractor with available references so that I can get the most reliable people for the job.

  28. I never knew that an inspection of recent jobs will help you to choose the right roofing contractor to help you. My mother noticed that her roof is damaged, and we are looking for advice to help her. I will let her know about the importance of hiring a roofing contractor with a great reputation for past projects for the job.

  29. Thanks for mentioning that you should look at your roofer’s previous work to ensure that they provide quality services. My wife and I need some spray foam roofing installed since we recently moved into an area that experiences frequent rainstorms. We’ll be sure to find a roofer that provides quality services.

  30. My mother has been complaining about roof leakages since last week and both my father and I are F-E-D up. I am now considering hiring an expert in roof repair, but the internet shows up lots of results in our area and I don’t know who to choose. I like how you mentioned that we should get recommendations from people we know because they will give a more honest opinion, along with better suggestions. I might talk to our relatives and friends about all this! Haven’t done THAT yet!

  31. I got some heat rashes on both my forearms the other day, despite JUST sitting around working from home while watching TV in the background!!! If simply being IDLE can cause the heat to get to me, perhaps it’s about time that I hire a roofing contractor to fix the ventilation of my home.

  32. LOVE the tip of doing a drive-by inspection of recent jobs. This will give us a good idea of how the roofer is. Shared!

  33. LOVE the tip about visiting homes and doing a drive-by inspection to see if potential roofing contractors did a good job. My sister is planning to downsize to a smaller home because she and her husband are getting divorced. She wants to get a new roof installed before putting her house on the market, so I will share this information with her.

    • Glad to hear you enjoyed this content, Rosie. Please feel free to share it with friends — that’s how we’re able to create similar content!

  34. My brother and his wife want to have a new roof installed on the fixer-upper home they purchased in their neighborhood last month. I’ll send them this info to help them feel confident about whatever roofer they end up choosing!

    • Glad to hear you enjoyed this content! Please send our congratulations to the new homeowners and share this page with friends — that’s how we’re able to create similar content.

  35. Thanks for the advice. We’re looking to hiring a roofing contractor to install a new roof at our house. Hiring a professional local roofer is a big investment for my family so these tips are helpful. We’re interested in synthetic roof options and are going to hire a professional roofer to replace our existing roof with wood shake shingles. Thanks again for the article – it’s helpful!

    • Glad to hear you enjoyed this content, Pete! Please share it with friends — that’s how we’re able to create similar content.


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