At some point or another, every homeowner will need to invest in a new roof. Oftentimes, getting a new roof installed on our home is one of the biggest investments most of us will ever make on it other than the initial purchase price. That’s why it’s so important to choose a reputable roofing company when the time comes. However, with big investments come big questions. Do I pay any money upfront? How much is too much? Am I being taken advantage of?
At RoofCrafters, we've been installing new roofs for homeowners like you for the past 3 decades, and questions like these are not only common but extremely valid. In light of transparency, we believe you should have all these questions answered before you contact a roofing company, because knowledge is power, and you deserve the power to make educated decisions about your home.
In past blogs, we've explained how to find good roofing contractors and avoid bad ones, as well as what to look for when it comes to roof warranties. Although, there’s one other bit of advice I’d like to impart that will save you time, money, and grief when it comes to a roof replacement. That being said, in this article, you'll learn which type of contractor to stay away from, all about deposits, paying upfront, and final payments. Let's get started!
Beware of Roofers Who Offer Large Discounts for an Upfront Cash Payment
While everyone is interested in saving money, if a roofing company offers you a big discount as long as you pay in advance, my advice is to look for another roofer. While some roofers ask for a small down payment, if you pay the entire amount upfront, it could be a long time before your roof is replaced, if ever. Even worse is you will have little recourse should the work prove to be less than ideal.
How Much of a Deposit Is a Fair Amount?
This is a trick question of sorts since any well-established company should have more than enough means to complete the job of replacing your roof without asking you for anything in advance. I know that’s what we at RoofCrafters do.
However, it’s not uncommon for some roofing companies to ask for anywhere from 10-50% upfront. If you decide to go with any of them, make sure you have a firm date for the work to begin as well as some way to cancel the payment if the work isn’t completed or the roofing company goes out of business before it has begun.
Why Would a Roofing Company Ask for an Upfront Deposit?
Since about half the cost of replacing a roof is the purchase of materials, some roofers want customers to cough up some of it in advance. This is what’s known in the business as a “Good Faith Payment.” If you have faith that the contractor will live up to the terms of the agreement, you may choose to pay a portion of the money upfront.
After all, it’s your money. However, if the material the contractor purchases should prove to be substandard, or if the installation is less than adequate, good luck getting your money back if you paid the deposit with anything other than a credit card.
Why Would a Roofer Need a Substantial Upfront Deposit?
If neither good faith nor materials are the reason to ask for a substantial down payment, then what reason could a roofer have for demanding a big advance? There are a few things to consider: the contractor might be using your money to pay off his last job, or they may be in a cash bind for any number of reasons Do you really want to do business with a capital-strapped individual? The contractor may not have credit at local supply houses. Why is that? I could go on and on and on with reasons.
What Could Go Wrong If I Pay Upfront?
The more you pay in advance for a roof, the more of a disadvantage you put yourself in. While a contractor can place a lien on your home if you don’t pay them, you as a homeowner have little recourse other than the expense of filing suit if the work isn’t done to your satisfaction (or at all). The only thing consumers have to hold over the heads of any contractor is money. The more of this advantage you give up, the more the ball lands squarely in the contractor’s court.
Won't My Contractor Have to Pay For Their Supplies in Advance?
Not unless they have maxed out their credit. Just like consumers, well-established roofing companies have access to credit that gives them 30-days to pay up before interest kicks in. Since the average roof takes 2-3 days to install, this gives a roofer plenty of time to pull the permits, purchase and deliver the materials and complete the roof before the bill comes due.
Are There Any Legitimate Reasons For a Roofing Contractor to Ask For a Large Deposit?
Unless you live in a mansion or own a shopping mall that will take weeks to complete your roof, the answer is no. Even then, the contractor should never ask for payment in full. Rather they should ask for a deposit and progress payments as the work progresses. Forego the company that asks for a large deposit, and instead be diligent about checking over the work before you pay once your project is complete.
Once the roof installation is complete, should you immediately stroke a check for the full amount to the contractor? Any roofing company worth their salt will make sure they let you inspect their work before you give them the final payment. If the job has been done properly, there should be no materials left lying on the roof or on your property. The shingles should be evenly spaced and the roofline ruler-straight. The vents and flashing should look shiny and new. You should detect no bent or missing fasteners. Last but not least, there should be no damage to your home or your yard.
Should I Pay Upfront for a New Roof?
All in all, use your best discretion. If the company seems shady, with little to no reviews, and has been around for less than a year, I'd advise you to not pay them upfront, nor at all. However, if you believe in the "good faith payment", and are comfortable doing so because the company providing you with a legitimate reason, it is entirely up to you.
If your next concern is scoping out a reputable roofing contractor, check out our Top 10 and FAQ Checklist, it’s free! It includes several questions to ask your potential contractors and provides you with peace of mind knowing you choose the right person for the job, all while preparing you to hold your roofing partner accountable for their quality and service.