Installing a new roof is an incredibly important—and sometimes stressful—decision for homeowners. Cost often factors into roofing choices; depending on materials used, the size of the home, and the contractor hired, you can easily pay five digits for a replacement roof. On a more personal level, the roof is what holds a house together. A quality roof protects your home for decades; a shoddy one can lead to more problems—and more stress—down the line.
The choice of contractor cannot be overlooked as homeowners assess their roofing options. Some people might be content to call a 1-800 number or fill out a form online to find a roofer. Others might diligently investigate local roofing companies to find one that can expertly handle the job. And still other homeowners settle for a general contractor rather than a dedicated roofer.
The decision is important, not only for the comfort and protection of your family but also for the overall value of your home. According to Remodeling magazine, a new roof adds, on average, $13,355 to the value of homes in the DMV. Choose the wrong contractor and you might not realize that value. With this in mind, here are some pros and cons of working with local roofing companies to upgrade your home:
Roofers vs. General Contractors
The first comparison we’ll make is between local roofing companies and general contractors—home improvement businesses whose primary focus isn’t roofs but have some experience in that area. Local roofing companies offer a number of advantages, including:
Expertise and certifications
Though local roofing companies might offer other services such as window or door installation, they are roofers first, handling dozens or more jobs a year, as opposed to a general contractor that may only replace a few roofs amid other jobs. Moreover, the best local roofers are certified by top manufacturers to install their products, a process that involves rigorous training and a commitment to quality. General contractors, with their focus spread among so many home improvement disciplines, often don’t meet these standards, simply because they don’t have the time to do so.
Partnerships with top manufacturers
Speaking of manufacturers, local roofing specialists often partner with the best companies not only for certification but also to provide the newest in roofing technology and the best deals for consumers backed by strong warranties. The relationship is beneficial for all parties but usually isn’t attainable for general contractors.
General contractors sometimes don’t carry the liability insurance that a dedicated roofer does. If your home is damaged during installation by a general contractor, will the contractor’s insurance be comprehensive enough to pay for the repairs? Local roofing companies are insured for specific roofing mishaps, which are already less likely to occur because of the roofer’s expertise.
The installation of a new roof shouldn’t be a one-and-done deal—it must be the beginning of the relationship between the contractor and the homeowner. Most local roofing companies are hyperfocused on standing by their workmanship and answering questions for homeowners before, during, and long after the installation process. On the other hand, general contractors often make their next job the priority. If there is a problem with your roof, you really can’t afford to wait until it’s convenient or cost-effective for the installer.
General contractors must keep working to stay profitable, and they might be less patient or apply more pressure on you to commit to a job. The best roofers don’t rush homeowners, understanding that your decision is bigger than their timetables.
Advantages of Working with a Local Roofer
Of course, there are national roofing companies that will install a new roof on your home, whether by their own hand or by subcontracting to a business (and not necessarily a roofing specialist) in your area. A big name may carry some weight, but a local contractor usually is the wiser choice. Here’s why:
Eliminating the middleman
Homeowners get the best deals, the straightest answers, the most favorable timetables, and much more when they choose a local roofing company. That kind of service often isn’t possible with a national company, even if it’s subcontracting locally—you may need to call a 1-800 number or enter an online chat to get answers…if you get those answers at all.
A national roofing company is trying to make as much money as possible off your job. The subcontractor it hires might have the same goal. As a result, you could be stuck with a less-than-experienced business using cheap materials and cutting corners to install your roof. After all, the subcontractor’s reputation might not take a hit, and the national company likely can withstand a negative review.
Hiring a local roofing company means the dollars you are spending stay in the community.
Perceived Negatives of Local Roofing Companies
Do cons exist for hiring a local roofing company? Some negative perceptions may linger in homeowners’ minds, but most of these are easily dispelled. For example, cost is often cited as the reason not to go with a local roofing company and instead hire a general contractor or try to DIY the job. This is false for two reasons. First, a local roofing company often isn’t as expensive as you might think, particularly if it is partnering with a top manufacturer. Second, long-term value must be considered. If a general contractor’s roof only lasts 15 years, compared with 30 or more for a local expert’s installation, the return on investment is obviously greater for the latter. The roofer’s finished product may cost more money, but it also saves more money.
Another misconception is that a general contractor will be better equipped to handle other problems that might arise, such as with the chimney or the gutters. This line of thinking is valid but overlooks one thing: Roofers are on top of homes every day and, frankly, have seen every problem imaginable and will know how to address unexpected issues.
Local roofing companies bring unparalleled expertise to a job that requires it (and don’t let a general contractor tell you that installing a new roof is easy). Roof replacement requires experience, dedication, workmanship, outstanding materials, and pride—traits that the best local roofing businesses provide better than a general contractor or a national company.