Know the risks

It’s important to protect yourself and your home before starting a home renovation.

Problems with home renovations are among the top consumer complaints in Ontario. In 2015, the Ministry of Public and Business Service Delivery received approximately 1,600 complaints and inquiries about home renovation services – 21% were related to roofers.

If you need to hire a roofer, knowing the risks will help you avoid things like scams, poor workmanship and legal liability for an injured worker.

Protect yourself as a consumer – before work on the roof begins.

Research roofing contractors

Roofing contractors are not licensed by the government but, with a little research, you can find a reliable roofing contractor. Start by:

  • asking friends and family for recommendations
  • considering local businesses only, so you can more easily check their references

Next you can search:

Get a quote

Ask for a quote from at least three different contractors by a certain date. A quote is a written estimate that should include:

  • a clear and complete description of the work to be done
  • an itemized list of the cost for materials and labour

Compare the quotes you receive before making your decision.

Check references

You may have a roofer in mind for the job, but you should ask for – and contact – at least three references. These are people who have personally hired and dealt with the contractor.

Ask the contractor for references from a current, recently completed and past project, so that any problems with the quality of the work may be caught.

If the contractor refuses to provide references, do not hire them.

When you contact the references, ask each if:

  • they would hire this roofing contractor again or not
  • the job come in on budget and if not, why not
  • their home or personal property was damaged during the project, or if workers were careless (e.g. nails left in the driveway)
  • the workers wore safety protection equipment, especially when working more than three metres (10 feet) above ground

Ask about worker safety

As a homeowner and consumer, you can – and should – ask the contractor about the business’s health and safety practices.

You’ll want to make sure that each roofer that will be up on your roof is trained to work safely and will be wearing fall protection equipment.

Do not hire a contractor who cannot confirm whether they have trained and equipped their workers properly. Starting April 1, 2017, all roofing contractors must have a working at heights training card, which proves they’ve been trained to work safely at heights.

Currently, under Ontario law, roofing workers must be:

  • trained to work safely at heights
  • trained in workplace-safety hazards
  • protected at all times when working more than three metres (10 feet) above ground

You can find the law under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Create a contract

You have consumer rights under Ontario’s Consumer Protection Act. It covers home renovations and repairs, including roofing.

This law says when you and the contractor sign a roofing contract worth $50 or more in your home, you have the right to a cooling-off period of 10 calendar days. A contract signed in your home is a “direct agreement” under the Consumer Protection Act . During those 10 days, you can cancel the contract for any reason without having to pay any cancellation fees.

If you hire a contractor and they start working during the 10-day cooling-off period, you can still cancel the contract but you’ll be responsible for paying for any work performed and for materials the contractor used

What to include in the contract

Having a written contract is the best way to protect your rights as consumer.

Make sure your contract includes:

  • the contractor’s name, address and contact information
  • a thorough description of the project with details of the work to be done and the materials to be used
  • the quote, or written estimate with a thorough description of the work to be done and an itemized list of the cost for materials and labour
  • a work schedule, including start (after the 10-day cooling-off period) and completion dates, and details about how delays will be handled
  • the total cost, including all applicable taxes, the terms of payment and the down-payment or deposit, amount
  • details on how gardens and landscaping will be protected during work
  • who is responsible for cleanup once job is completed
  • who is responsible for damage that may occur to driveways, eaves, siding, screens and other parts of your property or your neighbour’s property
  • a clear description of all warranties for materials and products to be used

Manufacturer warranty

Ask the contractor who is backing the warranty of the materials to be used. Manufacturers of roofing materials often are not associated with the contractor using them. Some materials require certified or specially trained roofers to install them for the warranty to apply. Ask for a copy of any warranties that are part of the work being done.

Learn more about what to look for in a warranty.

Spot a scam

You can protect yourself by knowing how to spot scams.

Here’s what you should watch out for and do to protect yourself:

  • if a contractor says your roof is damaged and needs repair, ask them to prove this with a photo of the damaged shingles, holes, etc.
  • if a contractor asks for a large down payment “to pay for materials”, limit the down payment to 10% and never pay the full amount of the contract until the work is done
  • if a contractor offers tax-free deals, you may not get a receipt, which is your legal proof of payment for services and/or materials
  • if paying in cash, get a detailed, signed receipt from the contractor

File a complaint against a roofer

Find out how to file a complaint about a roofing contractor.