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Choosing a Contractor
By Trey Stinnett



National, Local and Out-of-State Contractors:

Every city has local contracting companies and it’s usually a good idea to support a local outfit, but in some cases, this may not be practical or advisable for your situation. The recent Oklahoma City hailstorms have left over 100,000 homeowners with severe damage. Most reputable roofing companies can install 2 – 5 roofs a day. Even with 100 local companies working overtime, it would take over a year to fix all the damage! National companies understand this and have come to Oklahoma to help. This flurry of work often results in disreputable contractors taking advantage of homeowners in need.

National vs. Out-of-State Contractors:

It is important to discern between a contractor that has simply driven into your area only to return back to their home-state after the work is done, and companies which may be headquartered in a different state but have a National business structure.

National contracting companies, such as Centre Tree, are normally headquartered in a different city but may have satellite offices and crews locally for quick dispatch. Out-of-Town contractors are much like storm chasers, rushing out to cities where catastrophic storms hit hoping to “get in” on the work. Not all out-of-town contractors are bad, in fact, most can do the work, however reliability and accessibility may become an issue if the job is compromised.

As a consumer, when faced with choosing between an out-of-town contractor and a National contractor always choose National.

Identifying a Reputable Contractor:

Centre Tree has been around since 1983 and we’ve seen a lot of contractor outfits come and go. Throughout the years we’ve learned a few things about spotting a reputable contractor.

Financially Viability:

How long a company has been in business is usually the first step to determining the financial viability of a contractor. A contractor who may have started business in 2005 will very likely be in “growth mode.” During this phase, difficult operational cut-backs have to be made that often affect the quality of the final product for homeowners. For example, choosing a lower quality shingle to save a few bucks can leave your home susceptible to wind, hail and water damage well before the 20 or 30 year warranty expires. Or the case where many contractors choose to use four nails per shingle vs the six we use. This adds more anchor points for each shingle making it that more difficult to succumb to windstorm damage . These and many other choices can and will affect the final restoration job.

Warranty reserves are another reason financial viability is important. Most National companies offer multi-year warranties on their work. This is only possible if they have large amounts of cash in the bank to draw from should this type of work be needed. Smaller roofers and contractors simply don’t have access to this type of financial resource.

Licensed and Insured:

Licensing and Insurance are two VERY important considerations before choosing a contractor. A non-licensed contractor is operating illegally and can expose you and your family to unnecessary risk. Uninsured contractors expose themselves to risk if one of their crew get hurt on the job. This might not seem bad for the homeowner at first, but often a medical catastrophe from just one uninsured injury can result in bankruptcy for a contractor leaving the homeowner with either unfinished work or no-one to call if the work was done poorly.

Quality Marketing Materials:

This may sound trite, but often it is the most mature and seasoned contractors who understand the importance of high-quality information materials for their customers. A pretty logo and a nice brochure don’t always mean the contractor or roofer represents a reputable company but it’s a big step over the contractor whose sign was made with a sharpie!

This type of marketing investment can also indicate how important a contractor believes outstanding customer service is. Knowing your contractor or roofer is dedicated to the best service possible allows the homeowner to relax knowing the job is going to get done right the first time.
Identifying a Disreputable Contractor

Disreputable companies exist in nearly every industry in the world. With roofers and general contractors, disreputable companies often leave a signature that is easy to spot if you know what to look for.

Requiring an Upfront Deposit:

A reputable company will not ask you for a deposit when you sign the contract. Disreputable contractors or roofers will often enter an area with meaningless contracts and collect $500 or more in “deposits.” Next they might turn off their cell phones, leave the state and never return again. Don’t let this happen to you.

A reputable contractor will require partial payment only when materials physically arrive at your door. This is considered a “good faith” payment and both acceptable and normal among reputable contractors.

What to remember is to never pay a dime until materials are visible at your doorstep and NEVER pay a “deposit” upfront.

Not Uniformed, Vehicles left blank:

Disreputable contractors and roofers will almost never spend the time ensuring everyone of their “employees” are uniformed or their vehicles are clearly marked with the company name and number. This is usually because these contractors have simply called a few handy buddies or relatives to do the work for them. Be extremely wary of non-uniformed contractors taking extra care to ask specific questions about their viability and legal status.
Stay alert

These tips are things we’ve learned over the years that every homeowner should familiarize themselves with. Sadly, many people pass up great, high-quality contractors over a slick pitch from a disreputable company. Always stay on alert when trying to pick a contractor or roofer and keep these tips in mind!



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About the Author

Trey Stinnett, Centre Tree Contracting
5030 N May Suite 183
Oklahoma City, OK 73112
405-355-3257

If you would like to re-print this article, please contact the author.
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