Great Tips and Advice for Hiring a Roofing Contractor in the GTA

In any situation where a significant amount of time, money, and resources are involved, it’s always best to have assurances that the outcome will be as you expect. This is especially true when searching for an honest and reliable roofing contractor in the Greater Toronto Area. Through our tips and blog posts, Trudel & Sons Roofing Ltd hopes to protect homeowners and businesses with the right information.

If you have a question about your roof’s needs, feel free to call us or request a free quote.

Top 5 Common Mistakes People Make when Hiring a Roofing Contractor

1. Not Getting a Written Estimate and/or Contract

This can be a big problem for you if your contractor is dishonest or not reputable. Do not be tempted by a contractor who doesn’t have an address, doesn’t want a written contract and offers a discount if you pay cash. This type of underground economy transaction involves many risks and pitfalls that offset any savings to the homeowner. The best strategy is to get everything in writing including the materials, labor and what happens if anything on the job changes. This will also help you in comparing bids and making your selection.

2. Hiring an Uninsured or Unlicensed Roofing Contractor

The reasons here are simple. Your home is a very large investment and should be respected! It can be tempting to hire “handymen” to help save money, but a faulty roof can turn into an expensive nightmare. Also, always check your contractor’s insurance. If there is a problem or accident on the job, you need to know that you will not end up getting sued or bear any additional costs. The best plan here is to only hire reputable, insured, and licensed roofing professionals.

3. Not Researching Your Roofing Contractor’s Work and Reputation

While most roofing companies operating in the GTA are professional and do good work, it is a good practice to search the BBB or the Ministry of Consumers Services and the Consumer Beware List to make sure they have no unresolved complaints or things that could cause you problems. Also check with the city or town to ensure that the contractor has a valid license to work in your area.

4. Not Getting a Roofing Warranty

Choosing your roofer solely on price can be a dangerous practice, especially if you do not receive a warranty. In the short run this sounds good, but it can hurt you. To get the lowest price, some contractors use cheaper lower quality roofing materials and cut corners on labor. For the long term choose a company with good price, good materials and above all a GOOD WARRANTY. It can end up saving you a bundle.

5. Not Getting a Detailed Construction Schedule

This is a huge mistake! You need to get a schedule in place so that payments can be made accordingly. If you pay upfront, you have no leverage to get your job completed and they could simply take your money and not do the job. The best strategy is to create a payment plan that has some money down and pays out the remainder over the course of the work and final inspection.

Checklist: Hiring a Contractor

What to Do First

Write a description of the work you want done, with as much detail as possible. Check with your municipal building department to ensure that the work can be done and if zoning approval or any special permits are required.

Find a Contractor

Ask friends and neighbors for recommendations. Get names from your family members, friends, local home-builder and renovator associations, building supply outlets, and, in some municipalities, your local building department. Ask contractors for their business licence number and check with the local licensing office and the firm’s insurance company for public liability, property damage insurance, and workers’ compensation. Ask for references from past customers. Check with the Better Business Bureau for complaints against the contractor.

Establishing the Cost: Getting Estimates or Proposals

You should have:

  • At least three estimates or proposals.
  • A complete description of the work to be done by the selected contractor.
  • Samples and literature showing different products that could be used.
  • Depending on the size of the project, plans or sketches and specifications of the work to be completed.

What Should Be in the Contract

  • Correct and complete address of the property where the work will be done.
  • Your name and address.
  • Contractor’s name, address, telephone, and HST numbers.
  • Detailed description of the work, plans (or sketches), and a detailed specification of the materials (type, quality, and model) to be used.
  • The right to retain a lien holdback as specified in provincial law.
  • A clause stating that work will conform to the requirements of all applicable codes, such as building, safety, and fire codes.
  • Start and completion dates.
  • The price and payment schedule (keep in mind the lien and seasonal holdbacks).
  • Agreement on who (homeowner or contractor) is responsible for all necessary permits, licenses, inspections, and certificates.

Contractor’s Responsibilities

Any reputable contractor should take on the following responsibilities:

  • Public liability insurance.
  • Property damage insurance.
  • Identifying any necessary permits and ensuring all legal requirements are satisfied.
  • Workers’ compensation for all employees of the contractor or subcontractors.
  • All work carried out under the contractor, including work done by subcontractors.
  • Removal of construction debris when the job is finished.
  • Warranties on all contractor-supplied work and materials (in addition to manufacturer’s warranties) for a period of at least one year.

Your Responsibilities as a Homeowner

Just as contractors have inherent responsibilities, homeowners also have a part in ensuring a safe, productive environment. Your responsibilities as a homeowner include:

  • Ensuring all contracted work conforms to zoning bylaws.
  • Ensuring workers have adequate working space, freedom of movement, and use of utilities.
  • Ensuring prompt payment according to the requirements of the law and the holdback and payment schedule.
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