Before you set out to find a roofing contractor, examine what it is that you need. What is the condition of your roof? Has it been leaking? Is the sheathing underneath the shingles in good condition or damaged? Are the rafters in good condition? How many layers of shingles are present? What type of roof is it; shingled, tiled, flat? Seek help if you are uncomfortable with preparing the work write-up.
Step 1: Work Write-Up
Why should you prepare a work write-up? If you are going to solicit estimates or bids to several contractors, the bids need to include the same items, so a fair comparison can be made.
Write each item in detail and leave space for the contractor to fill in a price. You want a price for each item such as; shingle removal, sheathing, shingle installation, dumpster and permit. A total should be included with his signature.
Get at least three bids.
Step 2: Finding the Contractor
Ask a friend or family member if they can recommend someone. If you see a contractor in your neighborhood replacing a roof, talk to the owner and get his card. The yellow pages always have a list of contractors. Local housing authorities may have a list of contractors
Step 3: Reference and Insurance
If the contractor can not provide both, walk away. Check references and insurance coverage. Call the insurance company to verify insurance. Call the building inspector’s office in the town he has listed that he has worked in. Talk to the inspector, and ask if he has ever failed a roof job. If he never heard of him, chances are the contractor did not get a permit. Drive by the addresses used for references for a first hand look of the contractor’s work.
Step 4: The Contract
Most contractors use a general form to contract their work. It is pretty basic but the key items that you want included are; when he will start, when he will finish, the total price, any draws that he might want, and conditions of final payment. Also, a warranty should always be included separately. A five year warranty is not too much to ask on workmanship.
Step 5: Payment and Closing
Never, ever, pay a contractor in full before he starts a job. If he can not carry the cost, he is not the contractor for your job. The only item to consider is maybe upfront expenses for material. That would be no more than one third of the job.
When the work is complete and has been inspected by your local code official, and all debris has been cleaned, then you can pay the contractor. Do not be intimidated to pay if the inspection fails, or cleanup has not taken place. Make sure your property looks the same when the job is complete, as it did when the contractor first got there.
wiseGeek.com: What is a work order?
Bob Vila: Questions to Ask a Contractor Before You Hire
Construction Contract: http://www.constructioncontract.info/