Some folks cringe when they learn they need a new roof. But if you have the right professional guiding you through the process, it can be educational, comforting, even fun.

Replacing your roof is a major expenditure and needs careful and professional planning.

You will want to choose a company that has a solid reputation in the community. Ask neighbors and friends for their recommendations, based on recent work. Do some research and learn about local companies.

When you have selected a few contractors that sound promising, check to make sure they are licensed in your town and insured.

Ask them for customer references – and check them. Any reputable company should be proud to share these references. If they hesitate, they might not be your best choice.

Then start interviewing. Here are some questions you might ask:

• What kind of materials are best for your environment? Consider sun exposure, tree cover, and the possibility of hurricanes.

• What kind of materials are best for your home? The contractor should give you a choice of styles and colors, as well as levels of quality.

• How is waste handled? Does the company discard it in an environmentally friendly way that suits you?

• Should your home be damaged in the process, how does the company handle fixing it?

• Is the contractor local, so that you can get help quickly if you need it?

• What kind of warranty does the company give on its work and materials? A quality roof with a solid warranty can add protection as well as value to your home.

• How long will it take to complete the job? Make sure you and your family are comfortable with the end date, and plan around it.

• What is the cost? Are there options? Keep in mind that the lowest price might not be the best choice over the long haul. Make sure to compare apples to apples.

• If the roofer asks for the entire quoted amount up front, find someone else.

Based on the answers to the above questions, you might do well to select the contractor that best answers them to your satisfaction.

Doug Williams is the general manager of Lanier Roofing.