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Making an educated decision: factors to consider before signing a contract

Investing in your roof can be a significant financial decision you may need to consider at some point. Your roof shelters you from the harsh Canadian winters and the blistering heat of the summer and is by far one of the most important decisions you may need to make for your home or business. That’s why it’s important to make sure you have all the necessary information in order to feel confident about your decision. With the overwhelming options available and different products on the market, the following key pointers can help you make an educated decision when it comes to your roof.

1- Contractor Credentials

It’s important to trust your contractor. The trust between a client and a contractor is first founded on knowing that the contractor has all the necessary qualifications to actually do the job. Clients in Quebec should be looking for a few things; among them are an RBQ license (Regie du batiment du Quebec) and membership with the CCQ (Commission de la Construction du Quebec). Membership with associations can also be a helpful indicator (like the APCHQ -Association des professionnels de la construction et de l’habitation du Quebec for example). When a roofing company is registered and upholds a membership with various associations, it is a good indication that they are in line with industry standards and are up-to-date with practices.

It’s also important to know whether a contractor has liability insurance and what is covered under their policy. It is good standard practice to always ask for a copy of the contractor’s insurance coverage, as well as their license.

Another way to confirm the credentials of a contractor can be to request recent references. This can help clients have a good understanding of the quality of work and reputation. In addition, visiting the place of business can be a good indicator of the level of professionalism you will be dealing with. Specialized contractors often require large equipment and vehicles, so if they do not have a physical location or “place of business”, you may want to investigate further.

2- Manufacturer Certifications

There is a difference between simply applying the materials and being a certified installer. The workmanship and quality of work are an important factor in determining the lifespan of a roof. The manufacturing companies that produce the roofing materials often provide training to demonstrate correct installation methods. Proper application of materials can significantly increase the number of years the roof will last.

3- Materials

While workmanship is important, the actual materials used to cover the roof must also be of premium quality. Choosing the appropriate materials for your particular roof is a good start to ensuring a long-lasting, durable roof. If you don’t know enough about materials, ask your contractor questions. By asking questions you are not only informing yourself about the products, you are also determining your contractor’s level of knowledge and comfort with the given materials and processes.

The manufacturer of these materials are also a very good source of information and are usually very eager to educate the public on their products.

4- Price war

When comparing bids, the question that you should ask is: “which price provides the best value”. Often times the lowest price is not necessarily the best “bang for your buck”. For example, one contractor may quote for a roof system that may be 20% cheaper than a second or third contractor, but the expected lifespan for his roof may be 50% less than the other two… this may be the more attractively-priced option, but definitely not the most cost-efficient option.

There are many factors that contractors take into consideration when they provide you with an estimate. The main reason for price difference when comparing estimates is the difference in the actual work being done which includes: materials, compositions and installation methods. For example, flat roofs that seem similar can have many different possible compositions. This will likely contribute to a price difference. Think of buying a car, which comes available in a v6 model, but also available in a v8 or a hybrid model…the cars look the same, but what is under the hood is very different and diversely affects the performance of the vehicle.
It is important to understand what value the different options provide. Make sure you understand whether the price reflects the materials, the work being done, as well as the durability and life expectancy of the roof.

5 – Property value

One way of increasing property value is by installing a new roof. You can increase the curb appeal and value of your home by choosing a finish that is both aesthetically pleasing and exceptionally durable. High performance roofs are particularly cost-efficient in the long-run, especially for re-sale value. To prove my point, put yourself in the buyer’s shoes and ask yourself if you would rather buy a house that you will need to invest a large sum of money on to replace the tar & gravel roof in 15 years, or, would you rather buy a home with a membrane roof that will only require a resurfacing after approx. 30 years. Quality roof systems add a certain property value, similarly to other aspects of a building, such as stone vs. brick vs. siding…

In conclusion, find a licensed contractor that you are comfortable with, or that was referred by a credible source. Remember, when you sign on the dotted line, this becomes a binding contract. Ask questions, do your research and get to know your contractor before making such an important decision.

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