7 Roofing Contractor Red Flags

A red flag strung atop a flagpole on a sunny day

If you’re looking for a roofing contractor, it’s important to know what makes a good contractor and the signs of a not-so-good contractor. Homeowners are tasked with the vetting process to find the right one. While it can be tempting to just select the least expensive option, you will most likely get what you pay for. To help you sort out the good from the bad, we’ve put together a list of some roofing contractor red flags.

1. Out of Town Roofing Contractors

The benefit of using local contractors is they know the area, weather patterns, and local labor force. Most out-of-town roofing contractors only show up following a storm (commonly referred to as storm chasers). These contractors are quick to sign up and complete the job, and then leave town.

Most out-of-town contractors don’t have the expertise or proper licensing to work in the local area. Following a major storm, these companies are just looking to make some money. They aren’t concerned with workmanship or any type of warranty.

For these reasons, it’s important to choose a local, professional roofing contractor known for their quality work and experience. They know the area, city, and state guidelines, and have an added bonus of supporting the local economy.

2. Negative or No Customer Reviews

Before making the decision to work with a contractor, it’s important to learn about past customer satisfaction. Did the project turn out as expected within budget and timeline? How were the service and communication?

But don’t just take the contractor’s or website’s word for it—they’re only going to post the positive reviews. Check Google and Yelp for reviews, and even more helpful, talk to other homeowners who have recently had work on their home done. They’ll be able to give you the good, the bad, and the ugly reviews.

3. No Project Portfolio

Along the same lines as the customer reviews, asking to see a contractor’s project portfolio allows you to see their past work and what types of projects they take on most often. Whether they are able to share their past work in the form of portfolios, case studies, or project write-ups, you should be able to get a good idea if they’re capable of completing your project and their experience level.

A good contractor will be happy to share their past work with you. If a contractor doesn’t have projects to share, it’s a big red flag—start looking for a different contractor.

4. Proper Licensure and Certifications

This one is pretty straightforward. If a contractor doesn’t have the proper license or certifications, run! In the state of Minnesota, roofing contractors that make more than $15,000 annually are required to have a license from the Department of Labor and Industry. As part of this license, the contractor must pass a required exam, show proof of insurance, complete background checks, and present a $15,000 surety bond. Additionally, the state of Minnesota requires roofing contractors to carry minimum insurance protection of $300,000 per occurrence, which must include at least $10,000 in property damage coverage. Both the license and insurance coverage show responsibility on the contractor’s part that they are prepared if any damage or accidents occur on your property during the duration of the roofing project.

5. Pressure to Sign the Contract

It is completely normal for MN roofing contractors to have a homeowner sign a contract before starting work. However, respectable contractors know that any major home repair decisions are a big deal and take time. They trust that the homeowner will take the time they need to research, budget, and plan for their repair and will allow them the room to figure out those details.

A red flag to walk away is a contractor that pressures you to make a quick decision. “We can squeeze you for next week if you sign now.” This includes those who are unwilling to answer any questions. A good contractor should be willing to answer any questions and details regarding the project.

Another piece of the contract to check before signing is the warranty. There will be a warranty on the materials you select for your roof, which is through the manufacturer. When working through this part, make sure to get clarification and clear documentation on the material warranty details, as well as warranty details for workmanship. Make sure to get clarity should an issue arise on how it will be handled.

If you aren’t able to get clear answers, or the answers aren’t satisfying from the contractor, it’s best to start looking for alternative options.

6. Payment Terms

The payment conversation should be made upfront. Depending on the size of the project, there are a few ways a contractor may accept payment, but cash is usually not an option. And if cash is the only option, get away from that contractor right away.

Cash-only payment should be a huge red flag; there are a few reasons for a contractor to only want cold hard cash from you…and most of them are no good. Always create a paper trail with quotes, bids, contracts, agreements, invoices, and receipts.

Also, make sure you review the payment terms you agree to. Never agree to pay upfront in full; anything more than a deposit and stored materials upfront should be questioned. Most quality contractors do not request payment upfront, only when the work starts.

7. Lack of Communication

A roofing contractor should be available when you have questions or concerns. This availability should extend through the initial project discussions, the start of the project, middle, and end. During the initial project scoping process, if your contractor goes silent for an extended period of time and then reappears expecting commitment to the project, it may be a sign of what’s to come. It’s best to reach out to other roofing contractors with better communication.

At the start of your roofing project, make sure to figure out who your on-site point of contact is going to be. This should be the person you reach out to for any questions about the work being completed, the crew, and the materials. It’s important you have trust in this person and discuss how the contractor will communicate any delays or cost changes prior to getting an extended timeline or surprise bill.

Avoid the Roofing Contractor Red Flags to Make the Right Decision

Selecting the right contractor is critical for so many reasons—workmanship, reliability, quality, longevity. If your roof is not installed properly, it will end up costing you more money in the long run. Hiring a professional and experienced contractor in your area can save you money by avoiding the need for a secondary repair or replacement. When you live in a state with extreme highs and lows like Minnesota, workmanship and the right materials are critical, as humidity and ice can cause major damage to a poor roofing job.


A red flag strung atop a flagpole on a sunny day

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