In our experience, roofing companies that carry out re-roofing to an existing domestic property tend to be quite small and local or regionally based. Many are family affairs where their reputation in the local area is known and where recommendations to others from happy customers is one of the biggest sources of work. So unlike sectors such as double glazing and boiler replacements you will not see much tv or national press advertising for a roofing company. So finding a good roofer that can re-roof your house or maybe carry out a smaller repair is not always easy.
What makes a good roofing company?
In my view there are three key areas that a roofing company can be judged on:
- How they present themselves and their business. Do they have a brand that is clear and visible on any quotations, emails, website (if they have one) and vehicles? The brand may be as simple as Smith & Son Roofing. Do they have clear contact details with an address and telephone number (not just a mobile number). For many homeowners it is important to know who they are dealing with. A mobile number and a first name does not give much reassurance when you are giving someone thousands of pounds of work to do.
- Their attitude to you as a customer. Since most of us only have a reroof done once in our lives a roofing company has a tremendous advantage – they know far more about roofs than we can ever hope to do. Do they try and blind you with science or do they try and explain what is required and why. Do they turn up when they say they will and respond when email or telephone messages have been left?
- Professional roofing skills. Can they provide references and examples of roofing they have done locally for you to look at. If so then do talk to the references and find out what they have to say (Yes the reference could be best friends with the roofer but generally the references will be legitimate customers).
Now roofing is a very practical skill so don’t necessarily expect a slick marketing operation. The most important thing for a small roofing business is the quality of their work. If they have a good reputation then they will pick up a lot of their business without being great at marketing themselves. So use the above comments as a guide rather than seeking perfection in all areas!
One other important points to check is that they do have public liability insurance.
Where do you find a good roofing company?
Personal recommendation from friends and family who live locally is a good route. When we had our roof done then some neighbours (who have a similar house to ours) took an interest in what was going on, how much it cost etc. As we were please with the work, when the roofers finished with us they had another job lined up for them just down the road.
To find our roofing company we filled in the enquiry form at the Federation of Master Builders (FMB) at www.fmb.org.uk and looked in a local monthly magazine to see who advertised regularly. We had three emails from roofers from the FMB website and another from an advertiser in the local magazine so four quotes in all. We went with a roofer who was price competitive but who also had a nice approach to communicating and seemed genuinely keen to impress. One of the other roofing companies had a similar price but we felt it would be easier to work with the company we chose. We did take up references ( three phone call) and got very positive comments back, especially on their attention to detail and approach to tidying up which encouraged us to place an order with them.
Other sources could be the National Federation of Roofing Contractors Limited (NFRC) who have a website at www.nfrc.co.uk. We haven’t used this site so can’t talk from personal experience but generally a company that prides itself on professionalism is going to want to be a member of some credible trade body.
Do make sure any quotation is in writing rather than verbally and check what is covered and what is not. Make sure that the quotations are similar i.e. that you are replacing clay tiles with similar rather than with concrete tiles.
Code 4 lead is usually used for flashings (to waterproof the joints between the roof covering and brickwork) and code 3 for soakers. If the roof is particularly exposed then heavier code 5 lead may be needed.
Until a roof covering is removed it can be hard to estimate how many of the tiles will need replacing and how many can be re-used. On our 80 year old roof we ended up using about 85% of the tiles and made up the rest with reclaimed tiles (as they were not brand new they didn’t stand out but blended in well with the ). One of the companies estimated 20% needed replacing and another worked on 40%. The higher quote assumed an additional 32 square meters of tiles were needed which at £50 per square meter is about £1,600.
Also the condition of roof timbers may be hard to assess. If access to the loft is possible then a visual inspection will give a guide to what you may expect but if rotten timbers are encountered these may well be additional costs to the quotation. Likewise there may be areas such as gable roofs where extra insulation may need to be added to improve thermal insulation.
If over 25% of a roof is being refurbished then there is a requirement to bring the roof up to improved thermal insulation standards. This may involve putting insulation board between the rafters or additional insulation on the floor of the loft.
Do make sure the quotation includes disposal of all materials from site and that site should be left in a clean and tidy state.
Most pitched roofing work is guaranteed for 10 years. This should be stated on the quotation.
Different companies have different approaches but many require a part-payment when the job has been started (and the material are on site), followed by a final payment when the job is finished, the scaffolding is down and the site is clean and tidy.