Roof replacement can be one of the biggest home repair expenses you can take on, so you’ll want to hire a good, well-respected, trustworthy contractor.

In a previous post, we discussed specific questions you should ask your contractor about the products and practices they’ll be using to install your new roof. But it’s just as important to educate yourself about roofing contractors themselves.

How do you tell if you’re working with a good contractor? By asking them questions, according to Cesar Sanchez, owner of Patriot Roofing in Cincinnati, Ohio.

“One of the biggest mistakes homeowners make is not educating themselves,” said Sanchez. “By asking questions, you can learn a lot about the roofer and ultimately feel confident in your decision to hire them.”

Here are four questions you should consider asking your roofer before you sign the contract and get the work started:

Are you insured?

It’s always a good idea to ask your roofer if they’re insured, but you should consider taking the extra step of verifying it. If any damage to your home occurs or if someone is injured on the job, you want to be sure the contractor’s insurance will cover it.

Get the insurance policy information and a certificate of insurance from your contractor and review it with your insurance agent. Ask your agent or broker if the contractor’s insurance adequately covers and includes liability, workman’s compensation, and vehicles. If they don’t think it does, ask their opinion on what you should do before hiring the contractor.

Do you recommend stripping the roof down to the deck?

Some roofs may have damage that can affect the performance of the new roof unless it’s repaired. For that reason, contractors will usually recommend removing the old shingles, underlayment, ice and water protectors, drip edges and flashing.

This can allow the contractor to see any repairs the roof deck needs and address them. In some cases, it may be acceptable to re-cover the existing shingles, putting new shingles over the top of old ones. But the best way to be sure your roof deck is as good as new is to take everything off so any damage that is present can be seen and repaired. Also, be sure to check your local building code. Two layers of shingles is the most that many codes will allow.

How will you protect my landscaping?

Stripping an old roof off a house can be a messy process. So be sure to ask your contractor how they will avoid damaging your yard.

During most roof replacement jobs, workers scrape off old shingles, underlayment and other materials, leaving just the roof deck. Sometimes they can deposit old materials and debris directly into a waste receptacle, but it often falls to the ground around your home.

For most homeowners with green thumbs, that can be a frightening thought, because they have flowers, plants and other delicate greenery surrounding the house. All of that can be damaged by debris falling from the roof.

Following the recommendations on IKO’s Blueprint for Roofing practices, contractors usually use a tarp draped over plants, or sheets of plywood where more sturdy protection may be needed.

What is the area of my roof?

This question is one of the keys to determining the cost of replacing your roof. The area — or size — of your roof determines how much material will be required and how long the job will take.

Your roofer can either go up on the roof to take measurements, or provide you with a report from an aerial imaging company. But you don’t have to wait for that — you can get the report yourself. You can get a report from a company like EagleView, telling you the estimated square footage of your roof.

Your roofer may still want to take their own measurements, but knowing those details ahead of time can help you understand what to expect.

Be sure you take the time to get to know your contractors. Asking them a few questions can help you get the peace of mind you need.

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