Roofing Contractors – Avoid the Cowboys

My family have always been involved in property. Whether or not it has been buying and converting, renting, demolition, building, you name it, we’ll have done it at some point. The fact is that, being in this business, you will get to meet a number of unsavoury characters who cut each and every corner they can. It might be extremely unfair for me to tarnish everybody with the same brush. We have worked with lots of good contractors and carry on to provide them with repeat business as a reward for their excellent work. A recent bad, and pricey, experience with some roofing contractors has encouraged me to write this blog. Hopefully in this article I can prevent you from getting your tv debut on Rogue Traders or Watch Dog!

Plan Ahead

Look for your contractor early! Most good contractors are booked well in advance. If you ring Dave from down the road and he can begin work later that day, most likely he isn’t the best option. Business may be quiet for him, but I’d say it is more likely that he isn’t in high demand due to his work quality.


A roofing contractor should have proper insurance to cover the work. If he doesn’t then don’t go ahead with the deal.

Get Reference

Often contractors are suggested by friends. If this is the case ask the friend whether they are satisfied with the work that was carried out, if possible go and look at the end job and see for yourself if you would be happy if this was done to your property. If you don’t know anyone the contractor has worked for, ask them to tell you a local site they have worked on. I don’t advise knocking on the door of a stranger asking to see his roof, if you want to avoid being sectioned, but you can definitely have a look on a drive by or on a walk.

Agree on the Work Needed

It is perfectly normal for a contractor to assess a job and tell you there is more work then you first imagined, after all they are a professional and may well know things you do not regarding the job. Ask them to explain the work in layman terms, get a full understanding and if you don’t really feel sure then get another opinion.

Time Scale

This kind of ties in with the last point. Once you understand what needs doing, agree a time scale. One of the most frequent causes of going over budget is time! When possible I agree a fee, regardless of just how long it takes the contractor to do the work he gets paid the same, you’d be surprised how much faster things seem to get done. This may not be possible, so do your best to manage the time a job takes.

A lot of the issues I’ve dealt with are common sense but you’d be surprised on how often I hear people saying they have been taken advantage of by a contractor. Some jobs will take longer than expected, most will be more expensive than you thought (definitely more expensive than you would like) and most will largely be out of your control once you hand the work over to a contractor. Remember, your home is your biggest asset and hopefully by following my advice you will get the high quality finish you want without breaking the bank.