How to Hire The Best Roofer - PODCAST TRANSCRIPTION

How to Hire The Best Roofer - PODCAST TRANSCRIPTION
February 22, 2023 at 6:00 a.m.

Editor's note: The following is the transcript of an live interview with DaVinci Roofscapes Territory Manager Mike Franck and Renewal Roofing Owner Will Boyd. You can read the interview below or listen to the podcast.

Speaker 1: Have you ever had a question about your roof and didn't know who to turn to for answers? Are you interested in learning more about one of the most important aspects of your home? Not to fret, the AskARoofer podcast is here for all you home and building owners. Join us as we talk with industry experts, roofing contractors, business owners, and more about all things roofing. And remember, AskARoofer.

Megan Ellsworth: Hello everyone. My name is Megan Ellsworth.

Lauren White: And I'm Lauren White.

Megan Ellsworth: And this is the AskARoofer podcast. And today we are joined by Will and Mike. Hello. Hello, gentlemen.

Mike Franck: How you doing?

Megan Ellsworth: We're so excited to have you here with DaVinci Roofscapes and Renewal Roofing. So thanks for being here. Let's dive right in and have you both just introduce yourselves.

Mike Franck: Well, I'm Mike Franck. I am a territory manager for DaVinci Roofscapes. That covers Georgia, Alabama, parts of Alabama, Mississippi, and the north part of Florida. I've been with DaVinci for about four and a half years, five, coming on five years soon.

Will Boyd: And my name is Will Boyd. I own Renewal Roofing out of Roswell, Georgia. Work all over the Southeast for the most part. 18 year, almost, roofing veteran. And kind of pride myself on doing, I don't want to say high end, but definitely the difficult roofing systems that are out there. So metal slate, composite, flat roofs, that sort of thing. Have a lot of experience doing that. So that's kind of the main focus of what we do actually.

Megan Ellsworth: Amazing. Great.

Lauren White: Wonderful. So today we are going to pick your brains about how to hire the best roofer for the job. But I hear there's a story about a homeowner in Mississippi that you'd like to share with us.

Mike Franck: Yes. So the early stages of this, this homeowner reached out to one of our project specialists at DaVinci Roofscapes and was looking for product information, samples, had some technical questions that we kind of filled her all in and she loved the product and most of the communication was done via email, and she had her own roofer that she had decided upon. I always like to at least reach out to make sure they're familiar with it. This guy had never installed DaVinci before. I said, "That's not really an issue. I can help, blah, blah, blah." But as the conversations got going a little bit further and we got a little bit closer to the job being ordered and started, something just didn't jive. I was feeling a disconnect there. And then when the material got ordered, that's when it really started happening. So I reached out to the homeowner, left a message. The message was never returned. She never called me back.

Not that I was going to say anything about it, but I just wanted to make sure everybody was on the same page. And I wanted a better line of communication with the homeowner. And in a nutshell, he started, this gentleman started the job and about a week later I started getting emails with pictures that were not good. And there was a whole bunch of issues that I could see in the picture. So I, Will Boyd is one of my great partners in the market and he's the one that I kind of learned from him. As much as he learned about DaVinci from me, I learned from him. And I started sending these pictures over to him as I'm continuing discussions with the homeowner, and he was giving me his advice on what he would do and how he would fix this and that.

And he definitely saw some issues. I reached out to the homeowner, I said, "Look, the best thing we can do is stop the job. Let's get down there and look at it to see what can be done." We end up going down there a few weeks later and Will's experience and knowledge on DaVinci specifically, but just in roofing in general, kind of just won him over. And what we went down there as kind of, I'm bringing an expert to kind of help you tell this guy what to do. And it turned into we're going to let that roofer contractor that we initially hired go away, Will, we want you to do our job. And that's when Will takes over.

Will Boyd: So I guess that makes it my turn. It's interesting. I've seen so much in a long period of time in roofing. I've kind of seen it all and I try and handle those situations with kid gloves if you would. But I offered to go with Mike. Mike and I work really closely together and I would say partnership's probably the right word. And it's a long way from me. Seven hours probably with a little bit of Atlanta traffic. But we got down there and not to beat a bad situation, but there were issues that I could see. I flew a drone and it didn't look that great, but I wanted to get up on it and see it up close. So what I would say, as far as any roofing system goes, especially something like that, that area's actually close to the coast, so there are even stricter installation standards.

But the alignment was wrong, the patterns were wrong, spacing was wrong where they fasten was wrong. I mean just to make, not beat the dead horse, everything was wrong. And then when we got there, this slate system had a bunch of big pieces and a bunch of little pieces. All the little pieces were stacked in the side yard because they didn't even know how to make them work. And so that was kind of their telltale sign, something's badly wrong. So unfortunately, after talking to Mike's technical team, and I kind of gave them, "Hey, here's what I would do, best practices, here's what we would've charged." Then they asked, "Will you come do it?" So fortunately or unfortunately we had to can the whole roof, we threw it away, because the way that it was installed, nothing was salvageable.

So we actually reinstalled it correctly, put in new skylights, and it was perfect. I mean, it was absolutely beautiful. And what I would say in that is in this fast moving society that we live in, everything's immediate gratification, boom, boom, boom. Nobody really wants to take the time to find out if whom you're speaking with is legitimate or, "Yeah, I'm a roofer so I can do it." I've been that guy before. I was young and inexperienced at one point in time, but I always make certain that the people know I have references, I have happy customers you can talk to, here's the addresses, but look at my social media, look at the photos that we've done. And even though I only get five or six likes of a social media post, I hear from all these people around town that are like, "Hey, we looked at your stuff on social media." And I'm like, "Well punch that like button." I don't want to sound like a YouTuber.

But yeah, we got down there, most of the job was done and we had to completely take it off. The decking wasn't repaired correctly. Yeah, I mean it was a rough install and we made them happy. We made it right. And that's kind of what I've always brought to folks is, I tell you up front, there was no permit ever pulled on the job. That was an interesting discussion with the city. Up to that point, nothing had been done correctly and people trust people. They were introduced by a local contractor to this fellow. So even though somebody may lead you to water, you still need to do your due diligence and make certain that you're picking somebody with good crews, with good references, good experience.

Megan Ellsworth: Absolutely. What are some questions that homeowners should ask before they decide to go with a roofer?

Will Boyd: Mike? Is that to Mike or is that to me?

Mike Franck: Always you.

Will Boyd: Let me tell you something. One of the things that I would say from my perspective is, I don't want to give too wordy of an answer, but first off, I'm a good fiduciary to their investment. I think that's the biggest thing. So that's track record. But doesn't matter if it's a, DaVinci's about this high in the system as it goes, or a builder grade shingle, the first thing that you're asking for is licensing, insurance, whatever's a applicable to the local, state, county, city, they all have different things. If they can't provide or pull a permit, that's a red flag. If they don't have references of somebody close by, that's a red flag. And not to punt, but basically doing your due diligence. That is what you need. Somebody with happy crews, happy clients, all that stuff is their work culture. You know, you can trust your spidey-senses when you speak to people. And if they don't give you good answers to your questions, that's really not a, that's red flag worthy.

Megan Ellsworth: Absolutely, follow the spidey-senses.

Mike Franck: Just to add on to that though, Will, in this particular situation or a specific situation, he had never done work down there. It kind of a little different, the homeowners kind of leaned on me and I basically said, "Look it, this is the guy who does the jobs that no one else wants to do in terms of difficulty. This is what he prides himself on." So even though he didn't have any local references, he showed them jobs that he had done in the past, and then that's one of the strengths of Will. Will goes down there. And I don't think, when they're making as big of a dollar investment as it was coming with, specifically a DaVinci roof, you can't explain enough to these homeowners. And that's what Will's strength is. He will get as specific and detailed as you want, and this is a large investment that they're putting into their house.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah, absolutely.

Lauren White: So I guess without word of mouth recommendations, I mean clearly that didn't work out for that homeowner in Mississippi, but how do people go about finding a reputable and licensed contractor? What avenues should they go through?

Will Boyd: Honestly, social media has been king in that arena. They're basically, there's two different types of roofing, new and reconstruction, so re-roofing. In the Atlanta market, it's inundated. 90% of roofs are shingles, 90% of roofers are steep slope shingle applicators. So that's what you're looking for. You're looking for somebody who's putting a bunch of jobs up on social media and you're able to find them and then look at them on Google or Yelp or whatever you're using. You're going to see a pretty realistic review board of people.

New construction, let's say that you're building one of these just amazing homes that we do a lot of in Atlanta. You're interviewing your builder, seeing what work that they've done, architects, engineers. So we're finding a lot of our work now through those, I don't want to say back channels, from architects or engineers or other builders. And like Mike said, I kind of take pride in doing the difficult. And so some of the projects that we've done, they call that builder or that architect and they say, "Hey, who was this fellow? We have a similar project and nobody wants to touch it or nobody has the experience." And so that's been the way that I've been getting into those inner circles of doing some of the stuff like Mike's product, which is the best of the composite world. But yeah, I mean, just use modern day tools. There's no yellow book anymore.

Megan Ellsworth: So going off of that, does a homeowner or should a homeowner know what type of roof they want before they go and look for a roofing contractor? Or is that kind of loosey-goosey?

Will Boyd: All right. Also too, I would say in this day and age, again, the overwhelming majority, and there are some market analytics that show, most everybody, if they're in an existing structure that has a shingle roof, most of those people are going to be looking for a shingle roof. So there are people in existing structures that won't always wanted a metal roof or tin or whatever they call it.

It depends on the category of project that they're going for. So what I would tell you is if you're doing your due diligence and you're looking at their social media feed and you see these guys are doing cedar slate, composite, flat metal, whatever, you know that that's going to be somebody who can filter your questions really well. So in the interview process, depending on what you're looking for, we get a lot of, "Hey, on social media I've seen this dream style house with a standing seam metal roof on it. You do that roof? Can you give me a price?" And so maybe that doesn't meet their budget. And what I would say is a good, experienced, well-rounded roofer is who you go to because they can give you the options that meet your budget and work with you on the different types, the differences between what makes one better than the other in the hierarchy of roofing products.

Lauren White: Well, and so you mentioned interviewing the roofer. Is there a certain number, should you just go with the first one that you find? Or should you talk to multiple people and cross reference different quotes that you get? For someone who's never done that-

Will Boyd: Yes, yes.

Mike Franck: Will wants you to stop at him.

Lauren White: Well, of course.

Will Boyd: No, no, no, no. Yes. Pick the first one you speak to. No, honestly, it depends on your market. If you're in a tiny little town, everybody knows each other and it's Smith Roofing and 1, 2, 3 Roofing. If you're in a larger market, I think if it were me personally, I think the minimum is three. And if somebody can't give you an estimated breakdown or a detailed breakdown, there's you another red flag. Why can't you tell me specific answers to questions? But if you're not able to compare apples to apples, whether it's a $10,000 shingle roof or one of these 300 and $400,000 high-end crazy roofs, if they can't answer questions and you don't have anything comparable, I think that that's a problem.

But if you get, and this actually happened for a builder friend of ours in Atlanta recently. Their office manager lives up on a big lake north of Atlanta. I think she had two estimates and it was a little bit out of their price range. Now it's a big ranch house, lot of roof. And so I wrote up an estimate and said, "Hey, look, everything that you've gotten is, these are legitimate pricing. Here's how much material is now, here's how much labor is now. So this is legit." But if you don't have some comparables to go to and then see why is this guy using this in the valleys? Why is this guy saying this about flashing?

If you don't have anything that you can peel back the layers of the onion and do your own due diligence, again, it comes into how much effort are you willing to put in to invest in picking the right guy by asking questions. A homeowner may, I guess to me, after all these years and several thousand projects, it seems simple to me. I do not know everything. If I don't know the answer, I will tell you, like, "Hey, I don't know. You're actually asking something I don't know." I'll do my digging, I'll give you an answer. But if you're not getting at least two or three to compare, I think you've done yourself an injustice by not doing your own research.

Lauren White: Yeah, definitely.

Megan Ellsworth: Absolutely.

Lauren White: That makes sense. Okay, so once a homeowner has found the right roofer, right, done their research, compared the quotes, picked a roofer, what happens then? What do they need to do? What do the homeowners need to do? Can you walk us through that?

Will Boyd: So from my standpoint, depending on the size of the job, shingle jobs, most shingle jobs are probably two days are less, even re-roof, right? So you want to make certain that if it's a re-roof situation, ask them questions about anything that's near and dear to them. So dad's got his crazy expensive gas grill out back or nice furniture. Ask what their precautions are. Do you remove everything from a yard? What do you do as far as cleanup goes, preparation, tear off incidences, what's your protocol for tearing the roof off? So that's where most of your issues are going to happen in a re-roof situation is when boom, everything comes off. At least that's always been my experience. If depending on how that company operates, they need to prepare for a material deposit. So are these guys asking for money upfront? Are they asking for money when it drops? What are the payment terms? What are the clear and upfront expectations? I think that that's something that's really important.

For high-end roofing systems like DaVinci, some of the questions that need to be answered is, what are your under laminate options? What do you do for the exposed metals? Too often people get wrapped around the axle about, I want this roof. And then I've seen it. And not to go back to that job, that was a long way away, but they had off the shelf drip edge, like light gauge aluminum, different color drip edge from rake metals, from valley metals. And so that also ties into your comparing quotes. I make custom metals, custom size, I make everything myself in-house.

So you need to prepare them and ask questions. What is the process flow? Are we drying in with an exotic material? Are we choosing high-end metal materials to make my roof pop and look better? And then are we looking for a material deposit? Do I need to write you a check when the material delivers? I think that too often those things are not communicated and it creates an animosity between builder or homeowner and the roofing contractor. So just instead of having that internal turmoil about these things, just head them off at the front. Talk clearly about setting expectations is what I would say.

Lauren White: Yeah, that's great. Makes a lot of sense.

Will Boyd: But people don't do it. It's scary.

Lauren White: Yeah.

Megan Ellsworth: Absolutely.

Will Boyd: You don't ever want to, even if you do great work, you don't want to have your hand out and be like, please. So you just have to rip the Band-Aid off and say, "Okay guys, here's how it normally goes. What makes you comfortable?" And I've had to get a lot better at that myself, because we do so many large jobs, it's hard to play bank for too many big jobs all at one time. So I've had to get a little bit more assertively out there.

Megan Ellsworth: That's a good thing, though.

Will Boyd: Oh, man. Yes it is.

Megan Ellsworth: So should homeowners be wary after a big storm hits when they're, and if they need a new roof or they need something fixed on the roof, should they be wary if they're more contractors in the area than there used to be? What should the process be after a storm hits?

Will Boyd: So it's interesting that you ask, there's two things there. One is, and this was asked in something else that happened from a Project of the Year award that we won, but they had asked about that same scenario. Do I call my insurance? What's happening? If all of your neighbors are getting new roofs, there's a chance that you have legitimate storm damage. If you have broken windshield from hail damage. I mean set, again, set realistic expectations. What I would do if a big storm hits a big area, there are not enough roofing contractors to handle everything. So that is why there's that traveling storm chasing model. So the vast majority of those guys are probably good people without malicious intent. And you know what I know, squeaky wheel gets the grease. So all of that goes back to if you're in Atlanta and a company from Tennessee or Texas is knocking on your door and you're, again, just like Lauren asked, how many estimates should I get?

Well, how many roofers should I talk to? Don't sign the paperwork from the first guy that knocks on your door. Talk to several different guys and say, "Okay, you're out of town. Why would I choose you over one of the local guys? How do you warrant work from two states over? What are your references?" Go back to social media. If it's Acme Roofing from Dallas and they're in Atlanta working, well, maybe they do hundreds of millions of dollars of roofs a year, and they have a network and a system to take care of you. So in that place, you may want to go to somebody like that, a "storm chaser", somebody from out of town. It doesn't have to be a negative connotation, but you do have to do your due diligence. You've got to do your digging.

Make certain that, did the crews travel with him? Do they just find local crews? It's just anybody up here. So again, it kind of goes back. So if a storm hits and your brother's buddy owns a roofing company, he says, "Hey, I'm six months out." And you're like, "Man, I can't wait six months. This out-of-state guy says he can get to me in a month." Well, you have to make that decision, but you know, you have to do your due diligence. You have to ask the right questions. Are you prepared? Can you do it now with quality products, quality installs? Who are your references? If I have a problem in two years, what do you do?

Mike Franck: Yeah, I think there's a balancing act, especially when it relates to storms because of that. There's more roofs that need to be repaired or replaced than there are roofing contractors. So you kind of got, but I don't think a homeowner should ever sacrifice the end result. It's a balance by who can do it in a timely manner, and who can do it right. You should never sacrifice doing it right just because somebody can do it quicker.

Lauren White: It's a good point.

Megan Ellsworth: Yeah. Well said.

Lauren White: Yeah. So let's talk about DaVinci. What makes DaVinci special? Why should a homeowner choose a DaVinci roof?

Will Boyd: Mike, you go first?

Mike Franck: I want to hear your take on it. But to be honest with you, I mean, DaVinci, it's been around for over 20 years. Synthetic slate, synthetic shake, multiple profiles of both of them, it's a Class 4 impact rating, Class A fire rated system, it can withstand hurricane force winds, approved down in Miami-Dade County, which is like the New York City of building codes. If you can get approved down there, you get approved everywhere. And the big one is wind load. And the bearing of that. It's a color through product. We use virgin raw materials and resin compounds. So it's color through, there's a consistency of product. It's a durable product, warrantied against no curling, cracking, splitting, color blotching, basically a limited lifetime warranty. And it's closely, especially in the case with this job in Mississippi, you could drive by and you think that's real slate up there. And it closely assembles our natural counterparts, which are what we're comparing ourselves against, which is real natural slate. And natural cedar shake will give us your prep.

Will Boyd: Okay, my turn. So that's the manufacturer's bullet points and that is what it is. But I was always intimidated by DaVinci. It's if you've never been into Whole Foods and then you go into Whole Foods for the first time, you're like, why am I here? I'm not worthy. It took me a long time to feel like I was good enough to be on their radar to do their stuff. I pride myself in just being the best applicator of these materials. But what I'll tell you is theirs is the best, it looks the best, ease of install, like finished product. It is the best composite system out there. Everything that Mike said is great, but then you have their support, you've got the best product out there, and from everything that you can compare it to in the composite space, again, if you do your homework, it is clearly the best.

There are a couple others that are decent, and there are several that I would not recommend for a lot of different reasons. But time and time again, their stuff's the best. And we saw that, the southeast is the last area that composites have not just boomed in. And so strategically aligning myself with them, I knew that was the best thing that I could do for my business. And now we've installed so many of these things and we love it. It's just been, DaVinci's been really good. And I will say something else is, in that a lot of the market's changing. People are looking for things that last longer. Don't go down the Google rabbit hole, but shingles are not lasting as long. They are made a little bit differently. People are more conscientious about going green or using metal or recyclables and stuff like that.

So what I can tell you is properly installed, their product lasts forever. So it's in the upper crest, the hierarchy of things. And in Atlanta where there are a lot of high-end remodels, you can't remodel a house for a slate roof if it was not designed to carry that weight. You can, it just costs a ton of money. So we're kind of introducing slate into the re-roof market in Atlanta. And so now these people are getting the look of real slate. And we have projects that are next door to organic slate, DaVinci next to it. You can't tell the difference. That's a funny short story. But we did one in a little town south of Atlanta, and the city inspector, the guy, he was some municipal worker, but it's close to the little downtown area. And after their lunch, the police captain, the fire chief, the city inspector and the homeowner were all there looking up, the guy points next door and says, "Well, I'm glad that you went with real slate because the one next door looks like, you know what?"

And so I laughed. I said, "Well guys, that's actually, that's the composite. That's organic next door." The guy's like, "No way." So I ran down the driveway, I grabbed him a DaVinci sample, I grabbed him a real sample, came over and showed it to them. And it was funny. These guys were around enough building to have some kind of an idea of what they're asking about. And I gave them the benefits of both and showed him kind of my thoughts on it. But they were blown away that our product wasn't the real roof.

Megan Ellsworth: Wow.

Will Boyd: Yeah,

Mike Franck: We got good pictures of that one. We took the picture of the house that Will did, and the real slate job is right in the background. And some people said, "Oh, you did two in a row." I was, "No." And that's the thing is that's what I tell homeowners, a lot of decisions on a roof, even though in reality you're looking at it 20 feet up in the air, but people make decisions five feet in front of them on a kitchen table. And if you put a real piece of slate and a synthetic slate on the table and step back, they're going, "Wow, that really looks like the real thing."

Lauren White: That's incredible. But I'm thinking, too, people in HOAs, right, if they have a certain type of material that their roof can only be, but they really love the look of slate, they can still achieve that while staying within their HOA guidelines.

Mike Franck: And we get into the same thing with cedar shake, too. Will bring us into HOA ARC meetings where they don't want asphalt. And so we'll talk to them about, because people will say, "I don't want synthetic, I don't want the fake stuff," they'll say, and we go in there and we answer all their questions, and then they say, "Okay, so now we can get the look of the real stuff and it'll last longer, and ultimately it'll end up being more economical for us." So we check in all those boxes. We do a lot of HOA meetings, as well, to help support contractors like Will.

Megan Ellsworth: Thank you both so much. Is there anything else a homeowner should know or be aware of before they're doing a new roof?

Will Boyd: Don't wait too late. Plan ahead. And the only thing that I will tell you, after being in this industry for a long time, I've unfortunately gone through the bumps and bruises of having to work for some shady characters. But don't let a roofer sell you fear. Do your due diligence. If you've got a 15-year-old roof and you have a leak in the bathroom, well chances are it's a pipe boot that's happening. It's starting to degradate. Or you have an exposed fastener somewhere that need to be recaulked. There's always something that you can do.

So if you call three roofers and two of them say, "Oh, sorry, you need a new roof." And the other guy's like, "Hey, you know, you can get a few years out of this thing," do your due diligence, plan ahead. If three guys are like, "Hey man, this thing's shot," and you'll know, people can look up and see the state of their roof. But just don't be sold fear. Trust your gut. And I would say like anything, if you're buying a car, if you're doing anything, that large of an investment, you really need to ask questions. Get multiple opinions. That's what I always said, early career, is get three estimates to find somebody you want to work with. You know, you can really trust yourself by just spending a little bit of time and talking to several people.

Megan Ellsworth: Totally. Well, thank you both for your time and being here chatting with us today. I wish, I'm in a rental. I wish I owned my home because I would put a DaVinci roof on, but it's not under my control. But thank you again. This has been fabulous. We are so honored to have talked to you. So thank you.

Mike Franck:Thanks for having us.

Lauren White: Thank you so much.

Will Boyd: Likewise, ladies. Thank you. Thank you.

Speaker 1: Thanks for listening to the AskARoofer podcast. Feel free to subscribe and leave a review. Go to askaroofer.com to ask a question.



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