The process of getting a new roof installed will include a series of 5 different types of paperwork. While reading these documents may not sit at the top of your weekend reading list, each one will both inform and protect you in its own way.

1) The estimate – The paperwork for a new roof starts with the estimates you collect from different roofing companies. Look for estimates that are written with a high level of detail that lists exactly what you’ll be paying for. Estimates that include vague or non-specific charges should be discarded as they provide an opportunity for the contractor to pad some expenses and take shortcuts in other areas.

2) The contract – You aren’t obligated to work with a contractor until you sign a contract. Before putting your signature on the dotted line, check the contract for miscellaneous expenses and ask for clarification on anything you don’t understand. Also check the estimated timeline to completion of the job so that you have an idea about the amount of time that you’ll be living in a construction zone.

3) Permits – The installation of a new roof will require permits. Call your local building authority to see exactly the types of permits that are necessary and make sure that the roofing contractor gets all of them. Skipping on paying permits is another shortcut that saves the contractor money while putting you at risk of living under a roof that does not have necessary approvals and/or isn’t built to code.

4) Insurance – Roofing contractors are required to carry workman’s compensation and general liability insurance. Ask for proof of both types of coverage to avoid being liable for a roofer getting injured while installing your roof or for rebuilding the playhouse that was crushed when debris was accidentally dropped on it.

5) Warranties – There are 2 types of warranties. The manufacturer’s warranty covers defects in the actual roofing materials. The length of the warranty depends on the type of material that was used on the roof. Asphalt shingles typically have warranties of around 20 years while a tile warranty can last 50 years or more. The workmanship warranty covers the installation of the materials. Be wary of warranties that last 1 or 2 years and look for workmanship warranties of 10 years or longer. Generally speaking, the length of the warranty is directly related to the contractor’s confidence in the quality of the installation.

Paperwork may not be your cup of tea, but pay special attention to the pieces related to your new roof installation. These documents can help you avoid low-quality work, protect you from accidents and provide long-term protection for your roofing investment.