Kelvin Collins

Kelvin Collins

As communities continue to reopen from the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses are scrambling to restaff and answer increasing customer demand. Roofers especially are feeling the crunch, as consumers turn to Better Business Bureau more than 17,000 times a day to research roofing businesses.

According to the Associated Builders and Contractors, construction industry leaders' confidence climbed in May amid the pandemic. While roofers are expecting to expand their staffing, more than 48% of contractors believe their profit margins will decrease over the next six months.

Roofing remains the No. 1 viewed type of business profile at BBB, with almost 6 million searches for roofers last year. In reviewing more than 27,000 positive customer reviews, workmanship ranks at the top when it comes to overall customer satisfaction, especially for home repairs and leaks. Also important to customers are:

• How well roofers clean up after a project.

• Reasonable pricing.

• Providing before and after pictures of the project.

• Limiting in-home work access during the duration of the project.

The median roofing project costs consumers around $8,000 – but homeowners insurance often covers most of that expense, possibly explaining why workmanship trumps everything else.

Trust matters and the numbers don’t lie. Roofers account for the highest number of BBB Accredited Businesses, with around 17,000 across North America. A business that is accredited with BBB meets and exceeds the BBB Standards for Trust, including acting with integrity and honoring promises – something customers demand and expect.

With consumer confidence rising, CNBC reports that consumers remain concerned about the uneven path to recovery. Reports of COVID-19 related complaints and reviews to BBB skyrocketed in May 2020, reaching more than 53,000 over a three-month period.

For BBB Accredited Businesses, this news gives them a distinct advantage in the market. Accredited businesses have nearly a 100% complaint resolution rate, magnified by the sheer amount of consumer inquiries to BBB.org daily.

Reputation is everything

No question, having a good reputation can go a long way for a business, especially roofers. First shared in a BBB COVID-19 Impact Report, consumer behavior is starting to change when it comes to finding a reputable and trustworthy business. In an April 2020 BBB/Google survey with consumers, BBB found that nearly half of consumers are more selective on which businesses to trust.

For those planning a project, here are some tips for hiring a roofer:

Make sure you understand the full scope of the project. What exactly is the roofer going to do? Will they be doing spot repairs or replacing the whole roof? Will they be removing the old roof or covering it with the new roof? Make sure you understand the pros and cons of the solutions and that everything is detailed in your contract.

Ask about clean-up and waste removal. Confirm that your contractor will be responsible for taking away all old materials and cleaning up your site after their work is complete.

Consider your gutters and landscaping. A roof job will require the use of ladders that can cause damage when leaned against your gutters or stuck in your landscaping. How will your roofer protect against damage or fix things after the job is done?

Plan for bad weather. What happens if there is bad weather while your roof project is underway? Ask your roofer about what they will do to protect your home in the case of rain or snow.

Check your insurance coverage. If your project is for fixing damage, check your homeowner’s insurance to see if your project is covered and how you should proceed if it is. (You also want to check your contractor’s insurance coverage for things like worker’s compensation, property damage and personal liability.)

Clearly written proposals that are detailed and broken down into separate line items are a good sign that the contractor is being thorough and has prepared an accurate estimate. The following is a partial list of items your estimate or proposal should include:

• The type of roof covering, manufacturer and color.

• Materials to be included in the work, e.g., underlayment, ice dam protection membrane.

• Scope of work to be done.

• Removal or replacement of existing roof.

• Flashing work, e.g., existing flashings to be replaced or reused, adding new flashing, flashing metal type.

• Ventilation work, e.g., adding new vents.

• Who is responsible for repairing/replacing exterior landscape or interior finishes that are damaged during the course of the work? Make sure that it contains language addressing who is responsible for any damage that occurs as a result of the work.

• All items of concern and work to be done should be included in the contract.

• Installation method.

• Approximate starting and completion dates.

• Payment procedures.

• Length of warranty and what is covered, e.g., workmanship, water leakage.

• Who will haul away the old roofing materials and/or project waste (e.g. extra materials, packaging, etc.)? Is there extra charge for this service?

Common roofing scams often occur after storms when a roofer “just happens” to be on your street and notices damage to your roof. Learn more about these so-called "Storm Chasers" at bbb.org/storm.

Kelvin Collins is president/CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving the Fall Line Corridor, serving 77 counties in East Alabama, West Georgia, Southwest Georgia, Central Georgia, East Georgia and Western South Carolina. This tips column is provided through the local BBB and the Council of Better Business Bureaus. The Better Business Bureau sets standards for ethical business behavior, monitors compliance and helps consumers identify trustworthy businesses. Questions or complaints about a specific company or charity should be referred directly to the BBB by phone at 800-763-4222, online at bbb.org or email info@centralgeorgia.bbb.org.