How To Recognize a Good Flat Roof Contractor

by | Aug 22, 2023 | Flat Roof Management

Contracting is a bit like the wild west. There is no regulation or oversight of contractors other than the volatility of the free-market economy.

Good contractors lament the fact that there is always a new crop of fly-by-night and charlatan tradesmen and women competing for a limited pool of business. It ends up leaving a bad impression of roofing contractors in general, one in which all contractors – even the good ones – are painted as being dishonest and unaccountable.

Factors To Consider

There certainly are good roofing contractors on the market, but how do you identify them? If you need a good flat roofing contractor who can inspect, repair, restore, or replace your flat roof, how can you tell the good ones from the bad?

At Flat Roof Solutions, we recommend asking questions that will help surface concerns you might need to be aware of before hiring a roofing contractor. The questions we recommend are itemized below, starting with the ones that specifically relate to flat roofing.

Authorized Manufacturer Contractor

Is the roofing contractor an authorized contractor with any roofing material manufacturer?

This is the one question that is most pertinent to flat roofing. Only authorized roofing contractors can get a roofing material manufacturer’s warranty issued for their projects. A manufacturer’s warranty is the best protection you can get when it comes to protecting your flat roof investment, property, and tenants. It should therefore raise a big red flag if the contractor is not authorized by any manufacturer.

Warranty for a Duro-Last Single-Ply Membrane Flat Roof |
If the flat roofing contractor you are considering is an authorized contractor, the next question you should ask is if it is with a company that is reputable. You can do that easily by reviewing company references.

References For Recently Completed Projects

The roofing contractor should be able to provide you with references for a half dozen similar projects they have done in the last 3 years or so. If possible, references should be for projects that are similar to your own. We recommend calling those references to verify what you have been told and to ask about the reference’s experience working with the contractor.

For example, you could ask:

  • Did the contractor complete the project in a timely manner?
  • Were they neat on the job site?
  • Were there any unforeseen difficulties? If so, did they handle them well?
  • Did they pick up the phone when you called them?
  • Have you had any problems since the installation was complete? If yes, were they handled satisfactorily?
  • Were there any change orders or additional costs that were not discussed as possibilities at the start of the project? If so, was it substantial?
  • Clean Flat Roof Work Site |
    This is not an exhaustive list of questions, but the types of things you should be asking when you speak with a reference.

    Online Reviews and Information Sites

    This is just a basic checking of the business via the Internet. 

    • How long has the company been in business?
    • Is it a local, regional, or national company?
    • Does it provide the service you are seeking?
    • What is its online reputation?

    I wouldn’t be concerned if you find an occasional bad review. But if you see a whole slew of them, that is cause for concern.


    Any roofing contractor you hire should have adequate insurance. Adequate means the contractor has coverage rates that fit the type of work you are seeking and is normal for your project or industry. If the contractor’s coverage is too small, that could signal inexperience or disorganization.

    You should ask every contractor you are seriously considering for a copy of their certificate of insurance. It never hurts to call the carrier and verify the policy is in effect. We have heard of contractors forging their certificates. (It is easy for anyone to forge a certificate with graphics software.)

    Employees or Subcontractors

    Flat Roof Solutions Employee Working on Flat Roof |
    It’s more and more common in flat roofing to have companies subcontract their work. We believe the customer is better served when the roofing company they hire has a presence on the roof during the project. That said, if your contract includes a roofing materials manufacturer’s warranty, many of the potential quality control issues that can arise with subcontractors will be mitigated.

    Payment Terms

    It is customary to provide a small down payment, roughly 10%, when the contract is signed. It gives the roofing contractor assurance that the customer is serious, and it is safe to order all the materials as the project is likely to move forward.

    It is unusual for a roofing contractor to want a large down payment, say 50%, before anything is ordered or the job begins. It could mean the contractor has no capital and no credit with their supply houses. This can be a sign that the contractor is unreliable and doesn’t pay his or her vendors in a timely way.

    You should also know that if your contractor does not pay his or her supplier, the supply house can come after you for the amount owed. Any materials delivered to your location are yours and you are on the hook for their cost. It does not matter that you paid your contractor. If he or she didn’t pay the vendor, they can get a judgment against you easily. We have, unfortunately, seen this transpire as well.

    Subjective Feelings

    Hopefully at this point, you’ve managed to weed out potentially troublesome contractors and are left with an objectively vetted short-list of viable candidates. Now the question becomes, who would you rather work with? Do you and the contractor mesh? Do you like them?

    In our experience, we tend to have better outcomes working with people that we get along with and have a general good feeling about. We do not recommend working with a roofing contractor that you cannot stand personally.

    That’s our list. It’s based on more than two and a half decades of experience working with commercial and industrial property managers and owners in Philadelphia, Southeastern PA, Southern New Jersey, and Northern Delaware. We’re experts at what we do and truly enjoy providing services to our customers.

    Expert Advice

    Whether you’re a beginner, need advanced information about flat roofing topics, or a refresher,  this is where you can learn everything you need to know about commercial and industrial flat roofing.

    Contact us for more information or pricing.




    Jared Van Vranken is Vice President and lead estimator at Flat Roof Solutions in Malvern, PA. Jared has directed the installation, repair, recovery, and replacement of commercial flat roofs for more than a decade at Flat Roof Solutions. He guides clients in selecting the best roofing materials for their needs and budget.

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