Commercial roofing is an entirely different beast from residential roofing. It requires a different set of materials, skills, and expertise, so it comes as no surprise that hiring a commercial roofing contractor doesn’t come cheap. As a building owner or property manager, you might be tempted to cut corners and go with the cheapest option to save money. But in reality, you’ll only be inviting problems further down the line. In this article, we’ll discuss the main risks of choosing the cheapest commercial roofing contractors, and tips for choosing quality roofers for your next project.
Poor Quality Installation and Materials
Professional roofers that have been in the business for years are aware of the best practices in roof installation and are dedicated to carrying them out for the right price. A cheaper contractor may not have the same dedication — some hire inexperienced laborers or outside contractors to help with a job. This helps keep their prices down, but the risks far outweigh the benefits. Commercial roofing is a complex job, and an inexperienced laborer will not be aware of the correct materials or installation methods for a specific project. What if they seal the seams improperly, or if they use the wrong insulation material? What if they make an error in the layers of a BUR installation? These mistakes are directly related to reducing the lifespan of your roof.
Aside from inexperience, there is also the possibility that a cheap roofing contractor will not invest in high-quality roofing materials, using older or reclaimed materials instead. They may also not come equipped with the right tools or safety equipment, heightening the risk of an injury. The last thing you want is to be held responsible for an injury that occurred on your property. It's better to reduce risks by hiring roofers that can guarantee quality craftsmanship and site safety. Reducing your upfront costs isn’t worth it in the long run when you’re sacrificing your roof’s overall lifespan. When your roof wears out earlier than expected, the money you saved previously is just going to get funneled into repairs or full-scale replacement.
No Warranty or Long-Term Protection
Your roof will ideally last you anywhere from 20 to 50 years and reputable roofing contractors are prepared to stand behind the quality of their work. When your roofers use quality materials, you’ll receive an additional layer of protection from the manufacturer’s warranty, which covers any defective materials.
Hiring cheap roofing contractors will not grant you the same level of protection. They are there to install a roof, minimize as much of their responsibility as possible, and get paid. The manufacturer’s warranty might also be of little use in this scenario — it doesn’t cover material defects caused by improper installation.
In the worst-case scenario, the cheap roofing contractor you hire might go out of business a few years down the line, leaving you bereft of any help for future maintenance and repair.
Missing Permits or Licenses
Generally, building permits are required for any structural changes to your property. Depending on the work done, there may also be additional requirements, such as permits for waste disposal. Some states also require roofing contractors to be licensed. If you work with a cheap roofing contractor, they may not have or are otherwise not willing to acquire these documents. This invites the possibility of reworks (e.g. building inspector deeming the building unsafe until the work has been corrected) or legal trouble (e.g. personal injury lawsuit from an unlicensed roofer with no workers’ compensation insurance).
Tips for Choosing a Quality Commercial Roofing Contractor
Given that it’s better to prioritize quality over price when it comes to commercial roofing, prior research is absolutely instrumental when choosing a contractor. Here are a few tips you can follow:
Verify Their License
Check if you are in a state where roofing contractors are required to be licensed. If you are, you can ask your roofer about their license number. You can typically verify licenses online through the website of the licensing board (e.g. for California, you can check the Department of Consumer Affairs Contractors State License Board).
Ask for References or a Portfolio
Reputable roofing contractors will have no problem with providing their portfolio of work or references from satisfied customers upon your request. This will help you verify the quality of their work, as well as determine whether or not they’ll be a good fit for your roofing project. Given that there’s a wide range of materials for commercial roofing, it would be ideal to hire someone that has experience with the type of roofing you want.
Check BBB for Complaints
The Better Business Bureau is a vital resource for customers looking to verify the integrity of the business they’re working with. The BBB allows users to file complaints against or leave reviews for a business, which are then available for other consumers to view when they search for a business they’re interested in working with.
Check Yelp and Other Review Sites
Utilizing the internet is an effective way to learn about the roofing contractors you’re hiring. Yelp and Google Reviews are the first review sites you’ll want to check for past customers’ experiences. Other general review sites you can check are Facebook and Yellow Pages. Sites like Porch and Houzz are geared primarily towards homeowners, but the roofing company you’re considering may also have a presence there if they also do residential projects.
Key Takeaway: Cheapest Is Rarely The Best Option
When it comes to commercial roofing, you’re making an investment that’s meant to last you for decades. In the long run, hiring the cheapest roofing contractor is only going to do more harm than good. Do your research, ask for estimates from several different companies, and find a quality roofing contractor for your project.