8 Things Contractors Wish Customers Knew

roofers on large shingle roof

The relationship between a homeowner and their contractor can be a delicate dance. There’s an unfortunate stigma surrounding roofing contractors, but the majority are honest, hard-working people looking to deliver quality results. Let’s take a look at what many contractors wish homeowners knew.

1. Contractors want to work with people they trust, too.

So, you’ve finally found a reputable roofer for whatever your project entails and they’re ready to get to work. But before the project begins, you mention that your cousin has worked on roofs before and you’d like him to work alongside the contractor.

What they wish you knew:

While it's noble of you to have your cousin’s best interest in mind, a responsible contractor will have a network of individuals they trust to assist them with the project.

Suggesting your cousin works alongside a professional contractor and his crew does a disservice to everyone involved, including you. By doing so, the contractor now has to work with someone he has no relationship with. Furthermore, your cousin is now depriving an established crewmember of work who may depend on this contractor for steady employment.

And lastly, you’re doing yourself a disservice by having an unqualified individual work on the project instead of trusting true professionals to get it done right.

2. Contractors don’t want to reuse old materials.

It’s tempting to want to reuse old roofing material for new projects to keep materials out of landfills and save on renovation costs. While it's honorable to make green choices, your contractor does not want to reuse old roofing materials.

What they wish you knew:

They’re not trying to charge you more money; old materials, like flashing, tend to fail once they’re removed and reinstalled. You may think you’re saving yourself money, but chances are the reused material will fail prematurely and end up costing you more money. Rather than insisting on reusing old materials, recycle it instead. It’ll stay out of the landfill, which helps the environment and your wallet, since recycling fees are generally lower than disposal fees.


3. They place a high value on allegiance to other tradesmen.

group of contractors

Make no mistake about it, a contractor places a very high value on how you perceive and review their work. Word-of-mouth advertising is extremely beneficial to a contractor, and they’ll do as much as they can to ensure you have a positive experience.

What they wish you knew:

While this is all true, there’s another side to the coin. Contractors with a well-established reputation have connections with many other tradesmen, often connections that have been built over many years. So if you have a problem with a supplier or subcontractor they are using, they may decide to pull them from the project to keep you happy, or they might not.

Usually, a contractor will try to remedy a situation to keep everyone happy in order to keep that well-established network within tradesmen intact.

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4. Roofers are not trying to create extra work.

Homeowners have a right to be suspicious of contractors creating extra work as the project moves along. After all, there are a number of scam artists and fly-by-night handymen running amok.

What they wish you knew:

It’s true some roofing contractors repair items that probably don’t need to be fixed, but it’s far from the standard operating procedure.

What usually happens is as roofers are working and pulling out damaged materials, they find other compromised roofing components not initially listed in the contract. Because it’s impossible to know the extent of the repair, contracts get amended and charges get added.

5. The permit office won’t allow for every special provision.

approved permit

Homeowners can request a lot from contractors. And while it’s easy to get upset at a roofer who can’t accommodate your every provision, chances are it’s a permitting issue, not a skill-based decline.

What they wish you knew:

A responsible roofing contractor will have an established relationship with the local permit office. One of the reasons for their solid reputation is that they don’t make stupid requests from local officials. But the goodwill they’ve created over the years does wonders for getting your permit approved in the first place.

6. The contractor fee is not negotiable.

A lot of homeowners try to bargain with a contractor’s markup fee in an attempt to save more money. You may feel that a 10 or 15% markup fee is a lot and try to negotiate it.

What they wish you knew:

A qualified contractor will do everything possible to pass on savings to their customer. They want a positive review and to establish a lasting relationship in case you ever need more roofing work. Years of experience will aid in finding every means possible to reduce costs, but the markup fee isn’t one of those options.

The markup fee is used to pay subcontractors, material suppliers, and many other business expenses. Only a small amount is netted for personal profit.

7. Contractors want to work with a detail-oriented customer.

Some homeowners are afraid to be direct and forthcoming about what they want and expect from a contractor. They may feel like they’re being bossy or pushy and don’t want to come off as a jerk.

What they wish you knew:

While it is true no one likes working for a jerk, contractors want to know what’s expected from them early on so everyone is satisfied.

Resentment over a job that wasn’t done to specifications can turn nasty and expensive, which no one wants. Be professional and polite, and there’s a good chance your contractor will be too.

8. They want you out of the way.

Roofer on roof

Unless you’re paying for a roof replacement, you should be able to stay inside your home throughout the course of the roofing project.

But even for something small, try to stay out of the contractor’s way while the repair is taking place.

What they wish you knew:

A roofing contractor is not going to tell you where you can and can’t be on your own property, but it’s wise to stay clear of their work zone and allow them to function in peace.

Roof repairs generate a lot of debris, which can cause a safety hazard if you’re in the way. It’s best to stay out of each others' hair unless you have a serious question or concern.

Find an experienced roofing contractor near you