Maggio Roofing, in Takoma Park, Md., insists that customers be home for the tear-off. The reason is simple: The company has no idea what may be found once the old roof is torn off. If Maggio Roofing's crew finds rotted wood or serious masonry deterioration, they photograph it. Work won't begin without a signature acknowledging the need for additional work, regardless of whether or not that work is undertaken.
In most cases, homeowners are more than willing to spend the extra money — on average, $1,400 per job. “Most roofers will just cover it with some kind of membrane and cap it and fasten it as best they can,” says owner, Scott Siegal. “It's not a terrible thing to do, but it's not the right thing.”
OH, BY THE WAY Few specialty contractors, whose profits are often tied to the speed with which a job is executed, ask for additional work. To get that work, someone has to ask for it. And you have to take the risk that customers will balk.
Maggio Roofing solved those problems by incorporating the possible need for additional work into its sales process. The company proposal package includes a price list, and project managers are authorized to request change orders from customers if installers see the need. “It's not like he's just making up a number,” Siegal says. “If we uncover something, chances are it's identified on our form and all he has to do is fill in the number.” It's also made clear that jobs have to be installed to a certain level of quality to be covered by warranty.
WHILE WE' RE HERE Warranty makes the case. Randy Brown, owner of Clearwater Home Improvement, in Mystic, Conn., often points out to re-roofing clients that their warranty requires vented soffits to allow the roof to breathe. “Their usual reaction is: ‘We didn't figure that in.'” Other common change orders include ridge vents, window trim, and — on entry door jobs — storm or screen doors. Homeowners, Brown says, are usually thankful for the suggestion.
Frank Mumford, owner of Sir Home Improvement, in Kalamazoo, Mich., notes that the effort to secure additional work starts with those likely to be asking for it: the installers. A year and a half ago, he set up a Web site with gift items that installers could exchange for points based on the dollar value of additional work. Recently, for instance, a technician installing windows brought in a $9,000 roofing job on the same property. “Most guys out there aren't going to bring in anything if you occasionally give them twenty-five or fifty bucks. You have to have a program where you can say: This is what you're going to get if you bring in [additional work].”