Searching for a reliable roofer

April 2 2014 by Ellen Roseman

Our home insurance company called to cancel our coverage for leaks coming through the roof. The reason? We hadn’t replaced the roof since 1986.

If we sprung for a new roof, we were told, the insurance company would consider reinstating our coverage.

Of course, this would save money for the insurer, since it would lower the risk of roof leaks and costly claims.

The idea of getting roof repairs scares me. I often hear stories from readers about defective shingles and worthless warranties. CBC Marketplace did a story on this in 2010.

Nevertheless, I’m looking for quotes from companies I find online. Not an easy job with a proliferation of firms.

First, I went to Homestars,which is well known for customer reviews of contractors. With hundreds of Toronto roofers listed, I looked for those with ratings of 9.5 to 10 (out of 10) and the owner’s name clearly visible.

I also went to Trusted Pros, which lets you search for contractors and find what their customers think of them. But there weren’t many reviews of Toronto roofers. Most were not yet rated.

What I did like was the site’s helpful articles, such as, “How to avoid a libel lawsuit when critiquing your contractor.”

Then, I ran across something called Smart Reno, which acts as a matchmaker for customers and contractors. I described the job and left my email address and phone number. Now I’m getting contractors calling me to see if they can inspect the roof and give quotes.

The final stop was the Better Business Bureau, which lists helps you screen out contractors to avoid (those with ratings of D or F). I checked out City Wide Roofing, which called me after I went to Smart Reno. They had an A+ rating.

Now I know why I waited so long to replace the roof. It’s an expensive job and requires an informed decision. Any advice is welcome. Wish me luck.

2 comments

  1. Michael Suddard

    Apr 4 2014

    Hi Ellen,

    I had my roof done in Ottawa in September 2013. I was very careful to do my research as I didn’t want to make a mistake.

    Being new to Ottawa, I wasn’t sure who to trust and who to avoid. Research was in order.

    I first turned to CBC Marketplace and found a 2011 episode featuring Mike Holmes giving advice on how to find a roofer. See here:

    http://www.cbc.ca/player/Shows/Shows/Marketplace/Season+38/ID/1781395915/

    Next, I asked my neighbours:

    – If they needed their roofs done.

    – If they had any weather-related issues in terms of leakage to isolate points where water was getting in, so I could let the prospective roofers know who might be able to provide long-lasting solutions.

    I moved into the next phase and followed these steps:

    1. Sought out referrals from trusted sources:

    – My real estate agent made a couple of suggestions.

    – Friends who live in the area.

    – A property management firm that takes care of several condominiums and townhouse complexes.

    2. Had estimates done by the referrals when I was present. I made sure:

    – As Mike noted in the CBC video, they went on the roof.

    – They measured the roof.

    – They explained clearly what they were going to do and how long the workmanship and materials were going to last.

    – Got everything in writing.

    – Asked for references.

    Note: I tossed one estimate because the company refused to meet me during a time I was home.

    3. Checked the references:

    – One company lost, since the homeowner said this company hadn’t completed the full project of redoing a front porch and the roof.

    – One company impressed me, since the tenant of the building came out and said the work crew were excellent in cleaning up and answering questions.

    4. Checked their online ratings just like you did in your post.

    5. As the work was being done, here is what I did:

    – Checked each day as the work progressed to ensure the proper materials were used, things were done as written (i.e. ice & water shield) and the workers seemed happy.

    In the end, I and three others in the immediate vicinity of my house got our work done by this one company.

    As far as I know, we are all pleased with the workmanship and quality of the job.

    The roofing company has experienced owners, who have been in the business for 15+ years, using workers who are dedicated to their work and aren’t afraid to give clear, honest answers.

    6. Let my insurance company know.

    – I had the facts on my roof replacement sent to my insurance company so they would have it on record along with the receipt.

    – There were no insurance savings, but apparently insurance providers ask about the status of the roof after a certain amount of time has passed.

    I hope this helps. Best of luck.

  2. Andrew

    Apr 10 2014

    Try Avenue Road Roofing. If they are good enough for Mike Holmes, they should be great for everyone!

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