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What Is a Licensed Roofer?

By K. Kinsella
Updated Feb 13, 2024
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Licensed roofers are certified contractors who repair and install roofs on commercial and residential buildings. To become a licensed roofer, an individual must typically gain some on-the-job experience and complete a certification process. Governments in some areas require roofers to be bonded and to obtain insurance before they can complete the licensing process.

People employed in this profession use materials such as tiles, metal sheeting, asphalt and gravel to install roofs on property. Building codes exist in many areas that specify the manner in which these materials are to be installed and anyone wishing to become a licensed roofer must learn about these local regulations. In some areas, a licensed roofer may also be able to install solar panels in which case contractors must be familiar with electrical wiring procedures and local ordinances that govern this type of work. Some firms offer formal apprenticeship programs while other trainees receive no formal training but acquire knowledge while working under the direction of experienced professionals.

Many local government agencies have rules in place requiring applicants for the licensing process to have completed a certain number of hours working in the roofing trade, whether as apprentices or entry-level contractors. People who meet this requirement may have to attend a series of training classes that cover local regulations, installation techniques, liability issues and building materials. These classes usually culminate in a written or practical examination during which an assessor determines whether applicants possess the requisite skills to earn a license. Individuals who successfully pass the examination may submit a formal application for a license and in many instances, this process includes having to pay a fee.

Prior to a license being issued, laws in some nations require roofers to buy a bond and a liability insurance policy. The bond protects the financial interests of both the contractor and third parties in the event of a lawsuit stemming from the contractor's work. In exchange for a one-time premium payment, the bond issuer agrees to make a payout to cover damages that the licensed roofer may be ordered to pay during a damages lawsuit. Bond payouts are capped and in some instances, the bond coverage level may be insufficient to cover the required payout. Therefore, many local governments require contractors to buy liability insurance for an amount in excess of the bond coverage.

Having bought a bond and a liability insurance policy, the roofer must provide the licensing authority with evidence of both. A self-employed roofer may also have to register as a business entity or owner with the state before being able to complete the licensing process. Depending on local laws, a licensed roofer may have to reapply for a new license after a certain period of time while in other areas these professional designations never expire.

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Discussion Comments
By Feryll — On Oct 23, 2014

I didn't know some roofers were licensed and other were not until I called a guy to come out to my house and check my roof to see why water was leaking into the attic. This guy came out to my house and in about 20 minutes he said everything was taken care of. He said we had a couple nail holes and some loose flashing.

We were pleased because he completed the repairs so quickly and the cost was much less than we thought it would be. Then the next time it rained the roof was still leaking. We have called the guy out to the house three times and the roof is still leaking.

A neighbor just told me that this guy is not licensed. I'm definitely going to make sure I get a licensed roofer the next time I call someone.

By Animandel — On Oct 22, 2014

@Drentel - Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you I can really pinch a penny, but I have to disagree with you about using a roofer who is not licensed to do work for you so you can save money. Of course, there are some guys out there like the man you mentioned who do good work even though they are not licensed, but I think this is the exception rather than the rule.

By Drentel — On Oct 21, 2014

Everybody has his an her own opinion on the subject, but as far as I am concerned you don't need to hire a licensed roofer to work on your roof to get quality work. I'm speaking from my personal experience here.

There was a man in my home town when I was a kid. His full-time profession was farming. This took up most of his time in the spring and summer. During the months when he didn't have as much to do on the farm, he worked as a roofer. My dad always called him when our roof needed a quick fix or when it was time to replace the shingles.

He didn't have a license, but he did excellent work, and he didn't charge as much as the roofers who did only roofing all of the time.

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