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If you’re like most homeowners, hiring a roofing contractor can cause some apprehension. Many homeowners share this anxiety because they have little or no experience with hiring a roofer nor do they understand how roofing systems work. Roofing projects can also be a major investment, so it pays to do some research beforehand. Here are three simple measures you can take to protect yourself when hiring a roofing contractor:

Draw up a contract

The most basic way to protect yourself when hiring a roofing contractor is to draw up a contract that details every step of the project. By spelling out the exact expectations on each side of the table, you can avoid future misunderstandings. A contract will also provide an opportunity for recourse if a breach occurs. Some items worth including in a contract are: a start date and projected completion date, proof of liability insurance and workman’s compensation coverage, specific materials and products to be used, a warranty that covers manufacturing defects and workmanship errors, and a detailed estimate and payment timetable.

Never pay in advance

Reputable roofing contractors won’t ask you to pay in full up front, as they should have the resources to purchase materials. Instead, set up a payment schedule for the duration of the project, beginning with a deposit. A deposit should be no more than roughly one third of the cost of the project. For large roofing projects, monitor phases of the work and make payments as the project progresses. Don’t make a final payment until the roofing work is done to your satisfaction. Remember to make all payments by check or credit card for your records.

Verify insurance

A roofing contractor should carry general liability insurance to protect you from unforeseen events, such as damage to your property, as well as worker’s compensation in the event a worker is injured. Ask to see certificates of insurance and call the phone number on the policies to check if they are current. A general liability insurance policy should cover at least $1,000,000 for each occurrence and $1,000,000 for general aggregate. Professional roofers will readily supply you with proof of insurance.

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