You Get What You Pay For
As an expert witness that has been involved in several hundred lawsuits testifying for homeowners who have been taken advantage of, I am concerned with some social media and national television advertising that I've seen lately. First are the ads for various referral networks that claim to have vetted contractors via customer reviews, license verification etc. Some are national companies and some are local social media sites. The challenge here is that in most cases, homeowners are not construction experts or they wouldn't need to hire a builder or remodeler in the first place. Relying on such reviews can lead to problems when the reviewer has no real sense of what the market rates are for a kitchen or bathroom remodel for example, and just bases his or her opinion on the fact that they took several bids and went with the lowest bidder. Likewise, what appears to be quality work may not actually stand the test of time. Inferior materials and cheap labor are the same as stopping at a fast-food restaurant just because it's cheap and convenient...while tasty and able to satisfy our hunger, in the long term, ill effects begin to show up in terms of our health.
The second category are the so-called roofing experts that show up after every hail event, hurricane, or windstorm. I have investigated hundreds of roof claims where someone shows up at the door promising to get the homeowner several thousands of dollars more than the insurance adjuster gave in their estimate. I can say with 100% certainty that I have yet to investigate a weather-related insurance claim where an insurance adjuster missed anything of significance. That said, the adjusters are giving you an estimate or an approximation of the cost to repair covered damages. If there is something that got missed, all policies I've seen allow for the adjuster to come back in and supplement the claim to cover additional work if needed. Moreover, insurance adjusters are trained to give the homeowner the benefit of the doubt. In fact, most of the reports I give to lawyers state that I believe the adjuster probably overpaid the claim. And just because your neighbor got a new roof after a pea-sized hail event doesn't mean it was warranted! In general, the damage threshold for hail capable of damaging a properly installed roof is 1" in diameter or larger, depending on the direction of the hail impact, density of the hailstones and other factors. This is not an opinion, it is a scientifically verified fact! Remember, your homeowner's policy is not meant to pay for the maintenance of your home. Roofs wear out and it is your responsibility to see that they are maintained, not your insurer's.
The best source of information on professional builders and remodelers is your local home builders association. In Houston, this is the Greater Houston Builders Association (www.ghba.org). Outside the Houston area, you can find your local association at the National Association of Home Builders - www.nahb.org. Membership in your local and national home builder's association means at a minimum that the member at least cares enough to be involved in the largest residential construction association in the world. Education, codes, standards and professional involvement are characteristics that should matter in your selection process. Also, look for industry-leading designations such as Graduate Master Builder (GMB), and Graduate Master Remodeler (GMR). As far as roofing replacement contractors, look up a local roofing supply company and inquire about quality roofing contractors who pay their bills and run a professional business. Beware of "Chuck in a Truck" types, they are out there and I see a lot of them in courtrooms throughout Texas.
Finally, seeking numerous bids on your work will do nothing more than chase away quality contractors. We haven't "bid" a project in more than ten years... we don't need the practice! It takes days or weeks to develop a proper construction estimate. Instead, we develop a relationship, and start with high-level budgets based on discussions with the homeowner and then refine these budgets through what is known as a "design-build" process. Most professional builders and remodelers follow such a process. And be sure to always, ALWAYS, request a copy of your contractor's general liability insurance certificate from the insurance carrier or agent. It is easy to forge an out-of-date certificate.