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Most Commonly Asked Roofing Questions

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As a roofing professional, you probably already know there can be a pretty steep learning curve when it comes to repairs and replacements. Most homeowners don’t think much about the surfaces protecting their homes until a leak or a hike in their insurance gives them a little wake-up call.

That means much of your job becomes about serving as an educational resource for clients—especially those reeling from an unhappy surprise. There are a few questions in particular that come up time and time again, so having the right client-focused responses will serve your business and your business relationships for years to come.

“My roof is leaking—do I need to have the whole thing replaced?”

Sometimes the scariest thing is not knowing, and for homeowners who’ve sprung a leak, it’s hard to beat back visions of the whole roof collapsing before their very eyes. Thankfully, this is one place where you may be able to deliver some good news to your clients—depending on the size and the location, they may be able to get away without a new roof. You don’t want to have to dash your client’s hopes, however, so make sure you don’t give the false impression that their roof work will be a breeze before you’ve had a chance to make an inspection.

“Why do I need to hire you? Can’t I do this work myself?”

Ah, the question every roofer loathes. But the truth is, due to the poor overall reputation of the profession (the Better Business Bureau reports that a shocking 73 percent of homeowners feel home repair and improvement contractors can’t be trusted), you’ll have to defend your worth at every turn—especially for those homeowners who have a little bit of repair work under their belt. Here are a few points you can use to sway them:

  • They may seriously damage their roof. At their most innocuous, improperly nailed roofs can result in ripples, lifted shingles, and leaks. On the more serious side, there is potential for roof collapse and even bodily harm. A DIYer may have replaced a few shingles here and there, but they need to understand that roof work is a whole different animal.
  • It may not even be legal. Depending on the home’s location, local jurisdiction may forbid the homeowner from doing roofing work on their homes by themselves, and certainly without a license.
  • They may void a manufacturer’s warranty. Improper installations result in so many roofing replacements that manufacturers often won’t cover a roof that isn’t installed by a licensed contractor.

“Can you roof over my existing shingles?”

Clients asking this question may fall into two camps: those who are hoping to save a buck by reducing the workload required by a project, and cautious homeowners who would prefer to not be stuck talking to another roofer in a few months. While there are many opinions on the subject, there are obviously cases where no professional would argue for reroofing. Still, convincing a stubborn client may take just a little bit of finesse. Usually these clients respond most strongly to facts, so knowing the basic information below may help them come around:

  • Shingles must be laid as flat as possible to be effective. Show the client where old shingles are lifted or curling, making a reroof inadvisable.
  • Shingles add weight to roofs. Here’s a factoid to remember: every 100 square feet of quality roofing adds 350 to 450 pounds of weight. That will be helpful for a client who’s asking about a second reroof.
  • A tear-off will allow you to inspect the underlayment and decking. Does your client have a leak? Then you know the problem may not be as simple as repairing the shingles. Make the client aware of the risks of a reroofing—namely, if there are additional problems with the roof, they may find themselves back here again in a few months.
  • Reroofing may void warranties or create problems come inspection time. Is your client planning on selling soon? They may be trying to replace their roof for the lowest price possible. But inspectors are wise to this kind of behavior, and will report it to any potential buyers who have an inspection performed.

“How much will it cost?”

Money obviously talks with clients, so your ability to describe costs completely and fully will go a long way. Tell your clients about material differences that can affect project costs, and be clear about any site factors that may make you want to hike up your estimates—like charging more for steeper roofs, remote locations, or heavier materials. Creating a consistent policy will do a lot to create trust, while your transparency will ultimately improve your overall relationships with clients—for many years to come.

There are 8 comments

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    • Thomas J Taylor, PhD

      Shawn – fantastic, thanks for checking in with us. Roofing is a great profession – the obvious first tip is to work safely. Also, training is very important – your local GAF representative can help get you into a training program where you’ll learn best practice and how to avoid mistakes. Take care and good luck for 2018.

  1. Tim

    I always go right for the throat and tell them that I would be doing them an injustice for a patch job if the rest of their roof is falling apart as well. Tell them about all the things you know that can go wrong, damage their home, create a safety hazard, and bring down the value of their home. Then proceed to tell them how a new roof can fix all of those issues – almost permanently. I don’t really go for their throats, but you know what I mean – educate them then let them decide.

  2. Sherri Berry

    The statistic that 73 percent of homeowners don’t trust home improvement contractors is sad but not surprising. The roofing industry in particular is rampant with storm chasers and unqualified individuals who are out to take advantage of homeowners. We always encourage homeowners to research any roofing contractor they are considering and make sure they are fully licensed and insured and have a solid reputation with the BBB and also have positive reviews online. We also never ask homeowners to pay for their roof upfront which is always a red flag! There are a lot of good roofing contractors to choose from – unfortunately there is also a large number of bad individuals who claims to be reputable roofers that homeowners need to be wary of! We always provide free estimates, free inspections and no money upfront.

  3. Danika Hawking

    I agree that in Canada, roofer must be insured, even along with Insurance you must ask them to show Warranty and Roof inspection certificate. it will surely help to get the best roofing contractor for your roof needs.

  4. Shay

    Just want to add that at least in Canada (not sure about the rest of the world) make sure your roofer is fully insured. A good roofing contractor should have liability insurance up to $2,000,000. Of else if any type of accidents happen you the home owner will be the one in trouble.

  5. Alex

    One big question we keep getting down in Charlotte, NC is “won’t the insurance company just cover that?”. We often get hail or wind damage and because there are so many roofing companies canvasing the neighborhoods that the customers just assume the insurance company is going to cover everything! Knowing how to answer all questions and overcoming customer objections is key for any roofing contractor in order to get the job. Thank you for sharing this!

  6. Joe Brown

    Thanks for the great information. The “price objection” is one we’ve all faced numerous times. At our company we have found that a dialed in sales presentation highlighting the value proposition of a new roof vs. a “patch” works wonders. The points listed above would all be great additions to said presentation. Thanks again for the article.

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