By Jim Donovan

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — This time of year, many of us are making home improvements, like installing new windows and siding. But there’s another important feature of your home that shouldn’t be overlooked: the roof.

In this week’s Angie’s List, Jim Donovan takes a look at some things you should consider if you’re thinking about getting a new roof.

When it comes to choosing a roofer, it’s a good idea to work with a local, reputable company.

“You want a company that is known in the area, because your roof might last 10, 15, even 20 years, and you want someone who is going to stand by their work,” said Angie’s List founder, Angie Hicks.

If you don’t thoroughly research a roofing company, you could run into trouble.

Watch this video…

“If it’s done improperly, it might take some time before you notice it, and it could lead to costly repairs, leaks in your house, poor ventilation that could cause damaged shingles, shingles installed improperly could lead to leaking problems and further damage throughout your house,” said Hicks.

It’s also important you make sure the company you choose is insured.

“In particular, you want them to have worker’s compensation insurance, because if something happens to one of their employees on your property and they don’t have insurance, it’s potentially a claim against your homeowner’s insurance,” said Hicks.

Contracts can differ from one roofing contractor to another. The key is to read everything you are signing.

The contract should include:

– Cost

– Payment terms

– Start date/expected end date

– Job description

– Materials to be used, with manufacturer’s name and length of warranty

– Provisions for charge orders or extras

Angie’s List Tips to Prevent Rotten Roofing Work:

– Check if the company is licensed. The National Association of State Contractors Licensing Agencies report that 21 states require roofers to be licensed or registered, but Pennsylvania is not one of those states. Some municipalities may have requirements though, so homeowners should check with local agencies before hiring.

– Get multiple bids.

– Get written estimates from at least three contractors. If a door-to-door contractor says they’ve noticed your roof needs to be repaired, confirm this with a local contractor.

– Check out the past jobs of three former clients. Asking for references from suppliers or running a credit check can also help you determine if a company is solvent.

– Ask for proof of workers’ compensation and liability insurance. The company should be able to show you the certificates. If a contractor doesn’t have insurance, the homeowner is taking some of the liability if a worker is injured on the job site.

– Be wary of storm chasers, or contractors who flock to an area that’s been hit by bad weather. Some out-of-town companies are legit, but be cautious and make sure they are operating under appropriate local licensing and permit laws. If you prefer a local contractor but demand is high, many roofers will perform provisional repairs to tide you over.

– Before buying a home, always have the roof inspected.

– Never make large payments upfront. Don’t rush into making a decision.

Reported by Jim Donovan, CBS 3

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