The best prevention in getting a good roof is to hire the right contractor to begin with. Your roof is probably the most critical part of your home: it shields and protects you, your family, and the contents of your home. Its replacement needs careful consideration. Think of the weather conditions we have endured in this area over the last few years. Every time there is a strong wind, ravaging storm, earthquake, hurricane, snow and ice, our office receives over 100 calls a day. Be proactive: if you think you need a new roof or are experiencing any indications that the roof is aging, get it checked out by a professional so that you are not among the thousands of area residents who are looking for a fix after the disaster has occurred. Reputable contractors will already have work scheduled far in advance, and you do not want to be in the hands of an amateur.
There is a lot of information to help you chose the right contractor to get the job done right the first time. (See summary of Consumer Resources below.)
First, do your homework. The organizations listed below offer valuable information about the contractors you are considering. Second, understand the credentials that a reputable contractor must have and why. (Next week, we will post information about Understanding Contractor Credentials.) Familiarize yourself with what you want and need so that you have an idea of whether you want your roof to maintain the same look or whether you might want to upgrade its appearance by choosing a roof that will enhance the look of your home and is an investment for future sale.
Talk to your neighbors, ask your local Chamber of Commerce for a reference, go on line and check with the organizations listed below (these organizations are consumer resources and are not paid advertisers). A recommendation from a friend or neighbor is a valuable source, but you still need to verify the credentials of the contractor and educate yourself on what your needs are.
The best sources of valuable information available to you are listed below. Do not allow yourself to be swayed by a cheap fix: it will likely cost you a lot more in the long run.
Better Business Bureau:
1411 K Street, N.., 10th floor
Washington, D.C. 20005-3404
An excellent source to check the status of a company you are considering doing business with. Allows you to see whether complaints have been filed against the company and whether they have been resolved or are still pending.
Washington Consumer’s CHECKBOOK
1625 K Street, N.W., 8th Floor
Washington, D.C. 20006
Non-profit consumer magazine with award-winning articles and rating reports. Subscription required, but free article on local roofing contractors is available on its web site (www.checkbook.org).
Subscription required. Excellent rating source of over 500 categories of service providers. Providers cannot pay to be awarded top marks. The reviewers are homeowners who provide feedback on their experiences. High marks must be earned.
Fairfax County Department of Consumer Affairs
12000 Government Center Parkway
Fairfax, VA 22035
Department’s mission statement is to help protect Fairfax County consumers from illegal, fraudulent or deceptive practices.
Virginia Office of Consumer Affairs Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services
Office of the Attorney General
Consumer Protection Section
900 East Main Street
Richmond, VA 23219
Consumer Protection Hotline: (800) 552-9963 or (804) 786-2042
Complaint clearinghouse, dispute resolution and general consumer protection investigatory service.
National Roofing Contractors Association
National roofing trade association that provides a wide range of information to consumers, as well as local roofing member referrals (click on “find a contractor).
10255 W. Higgins Road, Suite 600
Rosement, IL 60018-5607
(847) 299-9070 (phone)
(847) 299-1183 (fax)
Virginia Association of Roofing Professionals
Virginia trade association that provides member roofing professional list.
2415 Westwood Avenue
Richmond, VA 23230
(804) 497-5917 (phone)
(804) 288-3551 (fax)