There are dozens of “new” Montreal roofing companies that “pop-up” every spring. When it comes to making a decision on hiring a roofing contractor, you are at a disadvantage as many of these roofing contractors are only in business for a few months.
Tar and gravel roofs can last a long time. It’s not uncommon for a roof to last 15 to 25 years, and sometimes even longer. So that puts you at a disadvantage when evaluating quotes from local Montreal roofing companies. If you only buy a new roof two or three times in your lifetime, you can’t draw on experience to make the best decision. And making a decision based on price alone can end up being a very expensive mistake.
When evaluating quotes from local Montreal roofing contractors there are 15 key questions to ask and get answers to before you decide who to hire. Doing so will help you make the best decision.
At North American Roofing, we want you to make the best decision, and avoid being scammed. That’s why we’re sharing the following “insider” information so you know what questions to ask and what to be aware of.
Our customers appreciate our straight forward approach, clear easy to read quotes, decades of providing quality roof installations in the greater Montreal metro area and above all honesty.
Should you have any additional questions we welcome your call at 514-935-2730 and would be pleased to provide you with a competitive quote. You can also request a FREE estimate for a new tar and gravel roof or roof repair by completing the form on the right.
1. How long has the roofing company been in business?
Every spring dozens of “new” roofing companies open for business in Montreal. Since almost every roofing estimate is delivered to a prospect’s home or place of business, it’s difficult to tell how long a local Montreal roofer has been in business unless you ask. Ask for proof about the company’s history and reputation, not just the number of years the roofer has worked in the industry. When requesting estimates, you’ll want to make sure you’re dealing with a reputable firm that has a history of providing great service, has client references and honours their guarantee.
Hiring a “fly-by-night” roofing contractor can cost you dearly.
2. Is the company a member of or certified by APCHQ, RBQ or AECQ? Are the certifications up to date?
APCHQ (Association provinciale des constructeurs d’habitations de Quebec), AECQ (Association des entrepreneurs en construction du Quebec) and RBQ (Regie du Batiment du Quebec) are provincial licensing bodies that regulate the building trades in Quebec. If you have any doubt about whether a Montreal roofing contractor is licensed, ask for their registration number and make a phone inquiry to the licensing body your inquiring about to confirm that their certification is up to date.
3. Has the roofing company every gone bankrupt?
It’s not uncommon to see a roofing contractor go backrupt one week, and the owner register a new roofing company the following week and be back in business. This is an important question to ask, as the guarantee that is issued by a roofing company is only as good as the company issuing and honouring the guarantee.
You’ll want to hire a roofing company that has a proven track record of running a successful business.
4. Does the estimate include completely removing the old roof to the bare wood?
Roofing materials are heavy and the cost to dispose of the old roof has to be calculated as part of the overall budget. Unscrupulous roofers cut corners any number of ways to either deliver a low estimate or increase their profit margin. Not removing all of the old roof to the bare wood or concreate surface is one way to cut corners. With a flat roof, it’s often impossible for the building owner to tell if all the old roof has been removed unless he/she checks in on the worksite, by climbing up on the roof.
For a new roof installation to last as long as possible, it requires a clean base, and that can only be done by removing all of the old roof.
5. How will extra charges (for hidden deficiences) be calculated?
Be vigilent and make sure the roofer has all the costs clearly indicated on the contract before you sign.
Roofing jobs are expensive and the last thing you want are additional charges that suddenly appear during (when the roof is open to the weather) or after the job is completed. Depending on the size of the job, unscrupulous roofers can surprise you with extra charges that can run into the thousands of dollars.
Additional charges to be aware of and that can be buried in the small print (and which you are liable for) of a contract include:
- extra charges for dumping fees (see #4 above);
- ventilation problems in the attic, which may require a new deck;
- extra charges for replacing rotten boards that are only apparent once the roof has been removed.
- Make sure you understand what the cost will be to replace the boards before you sign. This will usually be quoted by the square foot.
6. Are the installers trained, certified and experienced?
As with any trade, you will want to hire roofers who are trained, certified and experienced. Installing a tar and gravel roof properly requires experience. The last thing you want is to hire a company that hires general labourers or students to do the work. The quote may be cheaper, but in the end this is one product and service where you get what you pay for.
7. Does the company carry sufficient third party liability insurance?
A roofing company should carry at least $2,000,000 of third party liability insurance. When roofing contractors are working on your property, you want to be sure they have their own liablity insurance.
8. Will subcontractors be hired to work on your roof or any part of the project?
A good question to ask. Should part of the project go wrong, and you have to take action, you don’t want to be in a situation where a contractor passes the blame to a sub-contractor.
Tinsmithing, a trade that completes the metal work on a tar and gravel roof is one area that a lot of roofing companies sub-contract to other companies.
9. Is the wording of the roofing contract or estimate hard to read (ALL UPPER CASE LETTERS), printed in tiny text or open ended leaving you vulnerable to extra charges?
Check the back of the contract, are you looking at tiny light grey text that’s hard to read? If a roofing contract has legalese wording, it’s possible that there are number of loopholes and weasel clauses that can come back to bite you or cost you significantly more once the job is completed.
The contract should be easy to read, spell out exactly all the work that will be completed, including roofing materials, as well as the length of the guarantee. It’s not what a roofer says, it’s what’s in the contract that’s important. Make sure you totally understand what you are signing.
10. When you evaluate the estimates you’ve received do you clearly understand what you are buying and that you’re comparing “apples to apples”?
Every roofing company has it’s own method of preparing a quote, so it’s often difficult to compare “apples to apples”. Some quotes will be very basic, some spelling out exactly what you are paying for and yet others filled with legalese (see #9 above). You’re best off to go with a roofing contractor that itemizes each of the steps to be undertaken, including the materials that will be used to create your new roof. It should be easy to read, written in plain english and be accompanied by references.
11. Is the work guaranteed? For what period of time and what does the guarantee cover?
Every roofer will say their work is guaranteed. But what does that mean? Ask what the guarantee covers and for what period of time. A guarantee is only as good as the company that issues and honours the guarantee. Should you have the misfortune of hiring a roofer who closes his business at the end of the season, you’ll be out of luck should you make a claim on the guarantee. Make sure you hire a roofer that has a proven history of providing quality service and honours their guarantee. Many “fly-by-night” roofing companies promote a much longer guarantee than the industry norm to make you believe you’re getting more value. Do your research and don’t be fooled by this worthless scam.
12. When will the work get started and how long will the work take?
You’ll want to make sure your new roof is installed as quickly as possible and not open to the weather. Ask when the work will get started and how long the work will take.
13. Would the roofing contractor have any problem with you checking in on the job site (being on the roof) while the job is underway?
If you don’t mind climbing a ladder, it would be a good idea to check on the work while it’s underway. This allows you to make sure that the roofing crew is not cutting corners. Or should an issue arise (i.e. rotten boards) you can confirm the problem and authorize the extra cost.
Ask if the roofing company what their policy is when it comes to you visiting the job site while the work is underway.
14. Are you being asked for a significant deposit prior to the work starting?
If you’re asked for a sizeable deposit prior to the work starting, alarm bells should be ringing. Any roofing company that requires you to pay before the work gets underway is possibly in a weak financial position, or a scam artist and may be just one job away from going belly up. You don’t want to be in losing sleep tracking down a the roofing company that no longer exists.
15. Can the company provide references from previous clients?
Ask the roofing companies that are quoting on your roof to provide a written list of references from previous clients. Not having any references to share, should be cause for concern.
Unfortunately, there are some roofing companies in Montreal and surrounding communities who are out to make a “fast buck”. Just beware that they do exist and ask your short list of roofing contractors the 15 questions above. It could save you thousands of dollars and massive headaches.
At North American Roofing we’ve built our business on providing exceptional quality workmanship, installing tar and gravel roofs at competive prices for over 40 years, backed by a 10 year workmanship guarantee that you can rely on. When you need a new tar and gravel roof or a roof repaired, call us at North American Roofing, (514) 935-2730.