Without knowing what to do, and what NOT to do, repairing and replacing roofs can be unnecessarily costly.

Here are some pitfalls to avoid in order to get the best possible job at the fairest possible price.

Pitfall 1

Relying on an artificially low bid. Bids which are far below the next two lowest frequently deliver solutions which are neither satisfactory nor cost effective.

Pitfall 2

Dealing with roofing contractors which are not licensed, bonded and insured. Only licensed, bonded, insured roofing companies can adequately protect you and your roofing investment. Be sure you are able to independently verify a contractor’s name, address, licensee number and insurance coverage before signing a contract. You can check a contractor’s license status by calling the California State License Board at 1- 800-321-2752, and/or by visiting their website at www.cslb.ca.gov

Pitfall 3

Failure to get bids, warranties and contracts in writing. All recommendations, proposals, prices, terms and conditions of a roofing contract should be in writing which is dated and signed by an authorized representative of the contractor.

Pitfall 4

Assuming all contractors listed under “Roofing” have equal experience, comparable values, comparable capabilities and identical customer satisfaction policies. When it gets beyond the talking stage, roofing contractors are as different as night and day. Before awarding a job, check to see how long a contractor has been in business. Also ask for a list of customer references, and make sure they’re happy with the contractor’s work. Finally, check with the Better Business Bureaus to see whether complaints have been lodged with the contractor.

Pitfall 5

Being rushed into a decision by “special circumstance” bids, price offers or scare tactics. Don’t be rushed or intimidated by companies or sales persons who offer a special “today only” low price because they will use your property for advertising purposes or any other reason. When a contractor tells you that a bid is only good if you sign a contract immediately, they probably know you will be able to get a better price, better job, and/or better service from someone else. And remember, if you spot something in a contract after you have signed it, don’t forget the law says you usually have three days to cancel a contract.

Pitfall 6

Paying for roofing jobs “up front”. Typical roofing contracts call for a 10% down payment (but no more) at the time the contract is signed, as well as progress payments at pre-arranged intervals throughout the advancement of the job. Be sure you are thoroughly satisfied – both with the material and workmanship – before making the final payment.

Pitfall 7

Sacrificing long term durability in the interest of short term savings. “Patching” a roof usually costs less initially, but, except in very specific situations, the total additional maintenance and repair costs required by a patched roof may ultimately make the initial patch job far more expensive than doing a total reroof.

Pitfall 8

Failing to get written scheduling and completion commitments. Unfortunately, people don’t always ask the roofing contractor to specify in writing when work will begin and how long it will take to complete the job. The contract should spell out start/finish dates as well as the conditions which could alter the agreed upon schedule (weather, customer specifications changes, etc.).

Pitfall 9

Failure to get a building permit. Roof installations must meet county building codes and pass inspections by building inspectors. If you want to sell your home in the future and do not have the required re-roofing permit for replacing your roof, you may be subject to special inspections. If it turns out the new roof was not installed to building codes, you may need to completely replace the roof – again – at your own expense.