Board members of America unite! Do not simply go for the low bid on your next roofing project. Go through the process or hire a consultant to help you through the process. The size of the expense can run from $50,000 to $5,000,000. You can’t afford to make a mistake. If the roof is to be replaced with a different material than is currently in place, get the advise of an architect and/or an engineer. When roofs collapse or blow away there’s tremendous collateral damage. When roofs leak, the problem has an effect on multiple homeowners who have their personal property damaged. Insurance claims are filed. Rates go up. Do not be suckered into a low-bid contractor.
Each year we try and explain the basics of going out for bid on a new roof.
#1. Create a committee.
#2 Establish your expectations.
#3 Select your material choices.
#4 Evaluate manufacturer warranties & guarantees.
#5 Consult with an architect or engineer to determine potential problems.
#6 Get a proper professional job specification written.
#7 Have your choice of contractors bid on the same spec.
#8 Make sure you thoroughly check references. Get references of all jobs performed in the last year.
#9 See if your attorney can run a court check on the contractor to see if any lawsuits have been filed, are pending, or if any judgments have been levied. Then get a list of jobs performed 5-6 years ago. Don’t be put off. If the contractor doesn’t keep good records, go somewhere else. The current jobs will tell you about their punctuality, cleanliness, and customer service. The 5-6 year old jobs will tell you a bit more about their quality. Ask if they have any claims made in the past 5-6 years on their warranties or guarantees. There should be some. Nobody is perfect. How did they handle these problems?
Of course the contractor should have proper insurance for his crew, vehicles, and general liability. Is the contractor willing to post a performance bond? Rely heavily on your manager and in-depth investigation by the committee. Assign everybody just a little bit of homework. Make sure it is done properly. If not, reassign it.
Bids on large projects often vary by tens of thousands of dollars. There should be an explanation that you should be able to understand. Ask the right questions. Did one contractor estimate 200 hours of labor while the other estimated 250? If the job runs to 300 hours, who pays? If it’s the contractor you have to ask yourself if they will just absorb all that extra cost. What did each bidder budget for insurance. Are the materials costs similar? It is your opportunity to ask the right questions and your obligation to understand the answers. Does one contractor pay the roofers $12/hr while the other pays $18/hr and provides uniforms? Proper scheduling can have a big impact on the overall cost. What happens on rain days?
I think someday we might put out an entire handbook on selecting a new roof. For now, rely on your manager, professional engineer or architect, roofing consultant and your own common sense. But do your homework and don’t go for the low bid. You are bound to lose big in the long run.