9 Questions You Should Absolutely Ask your Roofer

1. Are you a certified FORTIFIED roofing contractor?

A certified FORTIFIED roofing contractor has been trained on the best ways to defend a roof against severe weather, and understands the program’s strict verification process.  If you want the peace of mind that comes with a FORTIFIED designation, start with a contractor listed in the FORTIFIED directory.

All certified FORTIFIED roofing contractors will have a valid license (if required by its home state), workman’s compensation and liability insurance.

Why is that important? A licensed contractor will likely be more familiar with local codes than out-of-town contractors, and the licensure board provides legal recourse should there be an issue with the work. A contractors’ workman’s compensation insurance not only protects its employees, it protects you too. If your roofing contractor goes without it and one of his crew gets hurt on your property, you could be held liable for medical expenses. And, contractors’ liability insurance will also cover your home, if it is damaged during the course of a roof installation.

2. Will you remove my old roof?

To drive down costs, some roofers will suggest installing new shingles on top of your old shingles. Those shingles may not be adequately attached, so the FORTIFIED standard does not permit two layers shingles (or more). Additionally, if your roof deck has not been re-nailed with ring shank nails and its seams have not been sealed, then the original roof must be removed to get this extra protection.

3. Will you replace my old flashing and drip metal?

Drip edge and flashing are metal strips that help keep water from getting under your shingles near the roof’s edges and near protrusions in your roof (like walls, chimneys, and valleys). Because reused drip edge and flashing can leave your home vulnerable to water-intrusion, the FORTIFIED standard requires it all to be replaced when installing a new FORTIFIED Roof.

4. What warranty and guarantee do you offer?

The majority of roof coverings (shingles, tiles, metal, etc.) available on the market today come with a manufacturer’s warranty. If you’re getting a shingle roof, expect a warranty of at least 25 years. Metal and tile warranties can be even longer – sometimes even lifetime warranties are available. Ask your contractor if, in addition to the manufacturer’s warranty, they also provide a guarantee for their workmanship and confirm how long that lasts. One to three years is typical for this type of guarantee.

5. Will my roof installation be inspected? By who?

While roofers in most areas must comply with local or state building codes, code officials rarely inspect roof installations. Fortunately, the FORTIFIED program requires an independent, third-party evaluator who will collect documentation that the materials used meet the FORTIFIED standard and that key roofing upgrades have been completed.

Some roofing contractors regularly work with specific evaluators. You can work with their preferred evaluator or you can hire one of your choosing. Check the FORTIFIED directory for evaluators in your area.

6. Will You provide a detailed written estimate?

A detailed written estimate is critical to preventing misunderstandings and surprises. If you don’t get an itemized estimate, at least ask for these costs to broken out separately: the cost of removing and hauling off the old roof, the cost of the new materials and installation (make sure it lists or notes that all flashing and drip edge will be replaced), the price for replacing any rotten or deteriorating decking (usually provided as a price per sheet), and any additional costs (e.g., fees for hand-carrying materials, extra charges for protecting landscaping/pool, surcharge for steep or high roofs).

7. How will you protect my house and my property?

When you’re making a home improvement, the last thing you want is damage to another part of your home. Make sure your roofing contractor has a plan to protect things like your gutters, landscaping, pools or spas, and the driveway. Ladder stabilizers and/or standoffs should be used to redistribute the weight of ladders to protect your gutters. Tarps can be used to keep old roofing material from collecting in your pool or flowerbeds, and an onsite dumpster can help keep your yard free of debris. However, ask your contractor where they plan to park it, as they sometimes cause driveways to crack.

8. Who can I contact if I have questions or concerns?

No matter how diligent your contractor is, there is always a chance something unexpected will happen (e.g., it rains on your installation day, the wrong color shingle is delivered, or the dumpster is blocking your driveway). So, it’s important to know who you can call for help. Find out if there’s a project manager assigned to your home and get his/her number. If one is not assigned, ask for the owner or general manager’s number. If you can’t get any of those, you may want to consider a different contractor.

9. Can you provide three local and recent references?

Contractors generally love to show off their work, and any reputable one will be glad to provide references. Just be sure to ask for references from jobs near you that were completed in the last three to six months. When you call the prior customer, ask if they are still happy with the work; was the job done on-time and at the estimated cost, did the contractor leave your yard and driveway clean; and did they do everything necessary to get a FORTIFIED designation.


Your roof is your home’s first line of defense against severe weather. Visit www.fortifiedhome.org/getting-started to get a roof with next-level protection.

Read more of our tips and ideas in the Homeowner Resources section.

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