Shopping for a roof replacement, or repair, in the Knoxville area, can be exhausting! Multiple contractors, opinions, colors, and manufacturers are just a few of the factors to take into consideration when finalizing your selections. With all of this newly acquired information, where does one even begin to narrow the search? Through the years we’ve interviewed countless East Tennessee homeowners who have had “less-than-stellar” experiences with their roofing contractor. By the end of the dialog, one topic generally stands out, the proposal they signed was either vague, misleading, or lacking overall!

So what are the differences between a “good” roofing proposal and a “bad” one? This is a very all-encompassing topic that would take hours to fully cover; and let’s face it, with the average human only retaining 20% of what they read, it’s going to be a long night! But have no fear, we have some general guidelines to go by to lead consumers in the right direction.

1. Materials
A proposal is going to outline not only the roofing process but the materials that will be used! Let’s use “underlayment” as an example:

Sleazy Steve
“We will install synthetic underlayment”

This would be the same as going to the dealership and saying I want to buy a Honda car. We have no idea what type of underlayment they are selling us, just that it will be there. “Underlayment” products can sell between $50 per roll to over $100 per roll. If it’s not specifically listed in the proposal do you think “Sleazy Steve” is going to go above and beyond to have top-of-the-line products purchased? The answer is “NO”, Steve is going to be putting more money in his pockets. Below is a more detailed option:

“GAF Feltbuster” synthetic underlayment will be installed over the entire roof deck.

In this example, we know the BRAND, the MODEL, and where it will be installed at home. We can perform a 30-second Google search and find all of the specifications for this product, and how it can affect the warranty of the roof system.

One of the most common ways in which less-than-stellar roofing contractors cheat homeowners is by offering a reputable dimensional grade shingle that falls in line with others’ proposals, but fill the remainder of the order with cheap accessories! Or, in East Tennessee lingo “putting lipstick on a pig!” You want to know EVERY product that is being installed on your roof.

2. Warranties
This is a subject that can get tricky whereas a contractor can put an amazing marketing spin on a common roofing practice to give the illusion that they are offering something unique. We like to use the auto industry as an example due to it being both widely recognized and understood. We all know that an auto dealership offering “Premium Upholstery Protection” packages is generally nothing more than a few hefty layers of ScotchGuard with 500% markup: The same goes for roofing!

Warranties such as ”The Nail Free Guarantee” or “We’ll Walk Your Yard Barefoot Guarantee” are nothing more than a contractor marketing the use of nail magnets at the end of the job. There is nothing special about this as it is common practice with any reputable roofing contractor.

So how do we know if a warranty is legitimate? Again, It’s as simple as a quick Google search! Every shingle manufacturer has warranties that they back and stake their reputation on. Warranties like GAF’s System Plus Warranty, or Owens Corning’s System Protection Warranty are guarantees from reputable leading roofing companies against material defects and workmanship issues. The benefit to these roof system warranties is that they are most often applicable even if the roofing contractor that performed the work goes out of business! Knoxville residents have the bonus of having Territory Representatives from both of these companies living in the area and are often the first line of communication in any claim process.

3. Payment Schedule
This has been a hot topic of debate since the hailstorm of 2011 where most of the roofs in the Knoxville area were destroyed. If you’ve lived in the area, you’ve surely heard a story of a roofing contractor taking money up front and never returning to complete the work!

Per the Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance, contractors are FORBIDDEN from charging more than 1/3 of the total proposal price as a down payment, and for good reason. In general, there is zero need for a roofing contractor to need money up front. With that, contractors have still managed to create some pretty unique explanations to solicit money up front:

“We need money to purchase your materials.”

“We need money to pay the crew.”

“We need money to put you on our schedule.”

Now any rational individual knows that reputable contractors are on a payment schedule with their supply house, that there’s no need to pay a crew for work that has not yet been performed, or that it doesn’t take money to write someone’s address on a whiteboard! Yet still, there is a weekly news report of a homeowner getting swindled out of their hard-earned money by way of a down payment!

Our stance is that unless there are special-order products that need to be ordered, there is no reason for a down payment. If you are going to entrust a contractor to complete a $15,000 roofing project, should that contractor not have the same level of trust that their client will pay upon completion? Only paying at completion of work ensures that the client STAYS in the driver’s seat throughout the duration of their project.

4. Change Orders
Last but certainly not least on our list is “Change Orders”! A “Change Order” is an item not discovered during the inspection process that could need to be addressed as the project progresses. Common change orders for both roofing repair and replacement jobs are flashing, and decking replacements. During the demolition process, we often find damage to the existing roof decking, or missing flashing components. Once these changes have been identified, there is an additional charge to the proposal number.

A good proposal is going to have common change order items listed with additional line item pricing. A good example would be OSB decking, in a proper proposal it would be stated in the “Change Order” section as:

“7/16” OSB decking charged at $65.00 per 4×8’ sheet”

In this example, we know EXACTLY what to expect should the contractor run it to bad wood. If you see (3) pieces of wood come off of the truck, we know to expect a $195.00 change order.

Conversely, If change order pricing was not stated in the proposal, it’s fair game for a less-than-stellar contractor to charge whatever he feels is necessary. In recent years, we’ve seen competing Knoxville-based roofing companies have up to a 35% difference in their change order pricing! One contractor may have a lower proposal price, but much higher change order pricing. Rest assured, the higher the change order pricing, the more apt they will be to replace products that don’t necessarily need to be replaced!

We hope that this article has been useful! Presumably, if you’ve read this far you are in search of a reputable Knoxville-based roofing contractor. We at Rescue Roofing wish you the best of luck and would love the opportunity to discuss your project in further detail!