Phase I: Inspect What You Expect

1) Get several bids, and conduct a Long Island roofing contractor inspection of your own. Check to see if the bidding contractor maintains membership in regional or national industry associations (e.g. National Roofing Contractors’ Association). Call the Better Business Bureau as well. The NRCA offers a toll-free number (800-USA-ROOF) to help building owners locate a contractor in a specific geographic area. Callers receive free of charge a computer list of NRCA member contractors sorted by zip code, a list of local and regional NRCA-affiliated organizations, and a booklet about roofing systems and terminology. All inquiries are kept confidential.

2) Always ask for references and follow up with calls to them all. You’ll gain valuable information and insight by talking to other customers. A building owner who has found a good roofer (believe me!) won’t mind telling you about it. On the other hand, run the other way from a roofing contractor who can’t produce at least ten references that recommend him highly. Remember, Yellow Page ads and billboards are ads, not references. Good questions to ask references are:

  • Did the roofing contractor keep you informed as to the progress of the work?
  • Was the contractor easy to work with?
  • Have you had any problems since?
  • How long ago was the job installed?
  • Were you satisfied with the workmanship?
  • Would you use this roofing contractor again?
  • Did the crew show up on time each day?
  • Did the crew haul off all trash promptly?
  • Did you get a written guarantee?

3) Request the names and numbers of a contractor’s trade references (suppliers of Long Island roofing materials with whom a contractor has worked) and call them. Identify yourself and say, “We are considering {contractor} to re-roof our building, and they gave your name as a trade reference. Could you give me some information please?” Questions to ask:

  • Do they pay their bills timely?
  • What is their credit limit?
  • What is their current balance?

4) Before awarding the contract, compare apples to apples with a spreadsheet checklist. Because it’s difficult to compare individual specifications in multiple bids, building owners often choose by bottom-line price alone and neglect other important factors.A one-page spreadsheet can make it much easier to compare multiple bids. You’ll see things that won’t be visible otherwise in thumbing back and forth through the bids. We can furnish you with an example spreadsheet, based on an actual job.

5) Remember, there’s no such thing as a free lunch. YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR. If you are looking at four bids and one is 25% lower than the others, look before you leap. How can one company be that much smarter? Fortune 500 companies often discard high and low bids and choose between the others. As you may already know, choosing the low-ball can be a nightmare of expense and inconvenience. Experience is a good but harsh teacher. Many of us have experienced suckerhood through choice of the cheapest, only to regret it later. Shoddy workmanship and low-budget materials cost the most in the long run.

Phase II: Protect and Prepare

6) Ask to see certificates of insurance and require that your company be covered as additional insured before the job starts. Insurance coverage should include liability limits of at least $2,000,000; auto coverage of at least $2,000,000 and workers compensation insurance.

7) Insist on a lien waiver before releasing money to the roofing contractor. Much too often I hear a horror story from a building owner about a roofing contractor that made off with the money without paying for the materials or even making payroll for his employees. This leaves the owner with unanticipated legal problems, since unpaid suppliers can and will place a lein on the building. A roofing contractor should provide a lein waiver equal to the payment received from you. Make sure the contractor knows that you plan to check with suppliers to be sure they’re paid. You’re entitled to ask for (and should get) suppliers’ names and phone numbers to verify payment.

8) Insist on a pre-construction meeting to allow all parties to get aquainted. A chain of command can be established, information exchanged, and an agreement established on important issues:

  • where equipment will be places (kettle, crane, dump truck / dumpster etc.)
  • when the job will start
  • approximate completion date
  • beeper numbers of roof supervisors, etc.
  • payment terms and draw dates

9) Prepare your tenants and/or employees for possible inconvenience. Noise, smell, and dust are a part of re-roofing. Often a parking inconvenience will result from the necessity for space by dump trucks, flatbed trucks, dumpsters, and utility vehicles that must be strategically close to the work in progress.

Phase III: Spec What You Expect

10) Insist on- name-brand materials from major manufacturers (Celotex, GAF, Schuller/Manville etc.). A 10 or 20 year guarantee by a small local firm that later goes out of business is not worth the paper it’s written on. All bids should include a “specimen” warranty for you to study until you fully understand the coverage, limitations, and exclusions.

11) It’s almost always better to tear off an existing worn-out roof than install a new roof over it (recovering). Attempting to apply a new roof on top of a deteriorated roof is a false economy. If the old system has deteriorated to the point of having wet, saturated insulation and you recover, the wet insulation can continue to rust metal decks and / or leak into the interior. Nothing is more frustrating to the building owner and the roofing contractor than to still have leaks after installing a new roof.

12) Include a deck replacement cost and work agreement in the bid. Until the tear-off process has begun, the roofing contractor can’t know with certainty the extent of damaged decking (the support system underneath your roof). Bids will normally indicate that deck replacement work will be done as needed, and you will be charged additionally based on the square footage of deck replaced.

Be on hand while deck replacement work is being done to be assured you’re getting what you paid for. Once the damaged deck has been replaced and the new roof system installed, you’ll have no way to know what was actually necessary , since the new deck will be covered by the new roof. Example: on a 30,000 square-foot building, there could be 5% bad decking to replace, translating to 1500 square feet at $7.50 per square-foot. It adds up to $11,250, a nasty surprise that you may well avoid by verifying for yourself the amount that actually was replaced.

13) Replace all gravel stop, gutters, vents, base flashings, and extension joints. Don’t try to reuse them. Replace all metal so it will all last as long as the new roof system. It is difficult, if not impossible, to remove the existing metal without bending it or otherwise compromising the quality of the new roof system. Downspouts generally can be reused, but always replace missing downspouts.

14) Re-roofing and roofing repairs are an inescapable fact of life. When the time comes, it sometimes pays big dividends to examine the tax law as it relates to your situation. Because there’s a fine line between repairs and capital improvements, we encourage you and your tax advisor to look into the history of case law pertaining to roofing costs. Circumstances may occasionally qualify a re-roofing transaction as a deductible instead of a capital improvement.

Fourteen Secrets Abbreviated

  • Professional association check
  • Customer reference check
  • Trade reference check
  • Spreadsheet comparison
  • Bid price comparison
  • Additional-Insured provision
  • Lein waiver provision
  • Pre-construction Meeting
  • Employee / tenant preparation
  • Name-brand materials specification
  • Tear-off vs. Recover
  • Deck replacement cost and work agreement
  • Metal replacement aggreement
  • Deductible expense or capital improvement


Re-roofing your building is a major expense and a major responsibility in many ways – yours to your company, the contractor’s to you and the materials manufacturer, and the manufacturer’s to each other.

Before you select a roofing contractor, please use this report to help avoid the many pitfalls suffered by the uninformed or misinformed roof buyer. We offer this report to save you time and money as well as assure the quality of your new roof.

We hope, of course, that you’ll call on us as a prospective bidder and let us show you firsthand how much we care about quality and reliability as established contractors. If we can be of help to you, please call me or a member of my staff.

Doug Klein

Please find listed below the major roofing manufacturers we work with and can obtain warranties from.

  • GAF
  • W.R. GRACE
  • U.S. INTEC

If you are looking for tips on choosing a professional Long Island Commercial Roofer then please call 516-746-0163 or complete our online request form.