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How to pick the right roofer

WASHINGTON — It’s going to be a rainy end of the week in the D.C. area. If your home needs a new roof, a local consumer’s group has advice for finding a roofer.

“You can hire a roofer that does great work and also charges low prices,” said Kevin Brasler, executive editor at Checkbook.org. “Often, those low-priced roofers are highly rated by their customers.”

The trick is to get multiple fixed-bid estimates for the entire job, which Brasler said is easy enough.

“They can come by and check out your roof without you being there and without them needing access to your home,” he explained.

Prices can vary vastly, though. Checkbook mystery shoppers getting multiple bids for three Washington, D.C. area jobs found these price ranges:

  • $10,720–$18,690
  • $4,502–$8,335
  • $12,600–$19,752

Before hiring a roofer to do the work, Brasler said, you’ll want to see proof the contractor is licensed and has liability and workers’ compensation insurance. Once you’ve selected a company, Checkbook recommends that you get these specific things in writing:

  • Detail what roof areas are included
  • Specify materials that will be used
  • State whether old shingles will be removed
  • List whether flashings are to be replaced
  • Get a warranty for both materials and installation
  • Detail who is responsible for hauling away debris

Once you’ve selected a roofer and agreed on a contract, Brasler said, you shouldn’t pay any more than between 5 and 10 percent of the total cost upfront — wait until the work is done to pay in full.

“That gives you the maximum amount of leverage to make sure the job’s done right,” Brasler said.

Through a special arrangement with the nonprofit Washington Consumers’ Checkbook, WTOP.com readers can have a look at Checkbook ratings and price comparisons for roofers for a limited time.

Editor’s Note: Consumers’ Checkbook/Center for the Study of Services is an independent nonprofit consumer organization founded in 1974. It has for more than 40 years been an innovator in providing information to help consumers make smarter choices.


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