Roofing scams happen year round but are more prominent during hurricane and storm seasons. We’ll cover different scams to look out for and helpful tips to protect you from scammers.
Homeowners fall victim to roofing scams every storm season. These predators prey upon the anxiety and fear of people that just went through destructive storms. They pressure homeowners into making quick decisions about repairing their roof. Contracts are signed before the homeowner really understands what they agreed to. Unethical roofers are easy to spot if you watch out for the following warning signs.
Storm chasers are roofers that keep track of destructive storms and travel to cities affected by them. They go door-to-door offering to repair or replace damaged roofs. Here are a few of the most common scams.
1. Fake Damage
A roofer will come to your door and notify you of damage to your roof. You can’t see the damage he’s talking about but you believe him because you’re not a roofer. He offers a free inspection and then tells you of the damage he found. He may even take pictures to show you proof of damage but they’re taken so close, you can’t verify it’s your house. The worse kind of storm chaser may even cause damage himself so now you definitely need repairs.
2. Low Starting Bid
A roofing contractor offers you a very low price that sounds too good to be true. Well, it probably is too good to be true. They will either use low quality material that looks good cosmetically but won’t last a year or two; forcing you to shell out for a new roof later.
They might also start with a low bid but halfway through the project other “problems” might pop up and your price rises considerably. You’ll feel pressured to pay whatever they’re asking for because you don’t want to be left with an unfinished roof.
3. Insurance Fraud
A roofer tells you that he just finished working on a roof close by and has leftover material. He can use this material on your house and save you money from having to buy everything. The insurance company doesn’t have to know about this and the roofer will charge them the full amount of a brand new roof. They’ll even offer you money to reimburse your deductible from the extra money they scammed from the insurance company. This is insurance fraud and YOU will be held accountable.
4. Large Down Payment
A major red flag to look for is anybody asking for a large down payment before any work is done. These unethical roofers will take the money claiming they need to go buy materials but they never come back. You’ll never be able to get a hold of them again. It’s normal for a reputable contractor to ask for a down payment that’s 15 to 20% of the total estimate. Be wary of anyone asking for anything 40% or higher.
5. Claiming To Be Sent By Your Insurance Company
Be suspicious of anyone unexpectedly showing up at your house claiming to be sent from your insurance company. Your insurance company will notify you if they send someone to your house. Don’t let these people intimidate and pressure you into anything.
Helpful Tips to Protect You
Take Your Time
Hiring a contractor is an important decision to make and shouldn’t be done quickly. A storm chaser will pressure you into making a quick decision or you’ll miss out on their deal. Don’t fall for that. You’ve just been through a bad storm and you need to clear your head before deciding on anything.
Research The Process
Research what the steps are in dealing with storm damage, filing an insurance claim, and hiring a roofing contractor. There are certain steps that need to be taken and an order to follow. You’ll feel more confident understanding the whole process and it’ll be harder to take advantage of you.
Contact Your Insurance Claims Adjuster
Call your insurance company. Your assigned agent will be with you from start to finish of the entire project. They’ll be able to answer any questions you have at any phase of the job. It’s also good to let them know what the roofer is recommending to see if it’s covered by your home insurance policy.
Get Two or More Written Estimates
Obtaining written estimates from several contractors will let you compare them and know if a price is too low or too high. Make sure to get the estimates in written form because it will lock the contractors down within range of their estimated quote. The estimate should be broken down into: cost of labor and materials, time needed to finish job, what work will be done, and what guarantees are provided.
It’s Okay To Not Hire A Contractor
Asking for an estimate does not mean you have to hire them even if they offered a free inspection. Free means free; it doesn’t mean it’s free only if you hire them. They may pressure you or make you feel guilty for wasting their time but don’t feel bad about it. Think of it this way; if someone is applying for a job, they can’t force and intimidate the employer to hire them. YOU are the employer. Hire the contractor that works best for you.
Check IDs, Licenses, and Proof of Insurance
Contractors are required to hold certain kinds of insurance, licenses and certifications. Any reputable contractor will be able to provide this information.
Look up any roofer that contacts you or gives you an estimate. Check out their website and any reviews they have. Look for reviews that are not solely on their website.
How Do I Check A Company With The Better Business Bureau?
You can check out contractors or any business on the Better Business Bureau website by entering their name and location of business. BBB provides information about a company before you do business with it; like its accreditation and ratings.
If you’re in an area that was hit hard by a storm you may come across a contractor that’s not from your city. Trustworthy roofers will come from different cities if your area is in desperate need of more workers after severe weather. Keep these tips in mind the next time you need to hire a roofer. It’ll keep you safe from scammers and also prove a company is legit and safe in case a good contractor reaches out to you.