Trust A Locally Owned Business: Three Lessons Learned When Installing A New Roof

roofingHurricane Irene slammed up the East Coast in 2011, and like many people in Lancaster, PA I was effected by the damage.  My roof sustained serious damage, and it needed to be replaced right away.  I knew the insurance company was going to cover the cost of the repairs, so with money in hand, I started looking for a roofer.  I started with some of the local companies, but they were putting in bids that were several hundred dollars higher than the bids that I was quoted from some new travelling roofing companies that I found.  I thought to myself, “Roofing is roofing”, and I decided to save some money and go with a cheaper roofing company.  Unfortunately I found out the hard way that hiring a cheap roofer has lasting consequences.


The first warning sign that I had that the roofer was not a quality roofer was when he was late to get to the job on the first day.  He blamed the tardiness on the difficulty of finding the right materials at a time when so many people were trying to fix their roofs at the same time.  After I thought about his excuse for a minute, I accepted what he had to say and let it slide.  What I should have realized is that a contractor that does not respect your time is someone who will not respect your property and not respect the work that has to be done.  Over the course of the two weeks that this roofer took to complete my new roof, I think he was only ever on time once, the day that he was supposed to be paid for the work.  While my neighbors were able to move on with their lives after just a few days of inconvenience, I was stuck with an unfinished project until this roofer decided that he was ready to get done.

The Staff

Once the roofer arrived on the first day he immediately left and told me that he had to go get some materials from the store.  I shrugged and went back inside, but two hours later this roofer arrived with a truck bed full of day laborers.  I asked him where his regular staff was, and he told me that he did not have a full-time staff and always hired workers whenever he went to a new town.  I should have told him to stop working right then, but there was rain in the forecast and I wanted to have my roof fixed.  The next day there were fewer workers, and very few of the same faces.  Over the two weeks that he worked on my roof I think I saw over a hundred different men working on the roof, and only a handful seemed to have any specialized knowledge about the work that was being done.  This is one of the reasons why the new roof took so long to get installed.

The Aftermath

Once everything was put on the roof, I was relieved.  I was tired of dealing with this unprofessional contractor and I just wanted to go back to my regular routine.  When I paid him I asked again about the warranty that he provides and I was told that there was a copy with the invoice and a number to call if there was a problem.  I thumbed through the papers and there was a document that looked like what he described, so I paid him.  A month later a normal sized storm came through and dumped an inch of water on my home.  Within minutes I could feel the water coming in through the ceiling.  It turns out that this roofer did not install a mat under the shingles, and the water was coming in through the shingles like the roof did not exist.  I called and tried to get the work covered under warranty, but the number had been disconnected.  I wound up paying for the work out of my own pocket.

If I had to do it all over again, there are many things that I would do differently.  I would have hired a local company so I could check on their references and make sure that they do quality work.  A local roofer would have had a trained, full-time staff to do the work, and many of the problems that I had with the shoddy roof could have been avoided.

I am Jeremiah Johnston, and I live in Lancaster County, PA.  I wrote this article because of the problems I had with a travelling roofing company and I want others to avoid these same issues.  Local roofers in Lancaster PA have the fully trained staff, the tools and the integrity to do the job right the first time because they count on word of mouth business, and I highly recommend Zimmerman’s Construction ( for your roofing needs.  They were able to fix the poor job done by the other roofer quickly, and affordably, so I am sure they can help you too.