How to Scam-Proof Your Roof
Spring is here and, for many people across the country, that means storms. And storms, unfortunately, mean storm chasers. But not the kind who get in their car and follow the path of those storms so they can report dangerous weather and learn more about preparedness.
We're talking about those who show up at your door unannounced with an offer to check out your roof or repair/replace it for a price that seems too good to be true, and then run off with your money without fixing anything—or doing a shoddy job.
"Some of the most unbelievable home improvement rip-offs come from scam-artists disguised as roofers," said Mosby Building Arts. "Reputable roofing contractors have to deal with an unfairly tarnished reputation because consumers are too often taken in by unlicensed pretenders."
We tapped several top roofers to get their advice on what to watch out for and how to protect yourself from costly scams.
Ignore unsolicited offers
"Even if you really are in need of a new roof, do not work with a roofer who knocked on your door uninvited," said Mosby Building Arts. "Reputable roofers only engage when you have made the first call to request their services."
Don't sign anything
"Some roofers, especially the storm chasers, like to use high-pressure tactics to get you to sign a contract," said Excel Roofing. "They may even hand you a document and claim it gives them permission to inspect your roof and contact your insurance company. Bottom line is this: don't sign it. Don't sign anything a roofer hands you unless you are 110% sure you want this person and his or her company to roof your home."
Do your research
"You want to do your homework before you waste your time talking to a roofing contractor who won't make the cut in the end," said Peak Roofing Contractors. "There are many places you can do research these days including countless sites on the internet. When you look at reviews, remember that you can't please all the people all the time so reviews should be looked at in their totality. It may be even more important to see how a company responds to a bad review. Don't forget to ask your friends and neighbors about their experiences with local companies and check the Better Business Bureau. When you visit a company's website, make sure they have a local address and talk in detail about the service you need."
Never, ever give a roofer any money upfront
"You don't get your paycheck until after you've punched the clock, so why pay a roofer before any work gets done? A roofer has no incentive to follow through with the work once the cash is already in his pocket," said Absolute Roofers. "Make sure you sign a contract first, stating that he'll get paid once the work is done. If he still tries to get you to pay up front, it's time to tell him to hit the highway."
Asking the right questions can help you narrow down roofers and choose the best one. Here are a few things to ask:
Is the company properly licensed for the job?
Does the company carry liability insurance and workers' compensation insurance?
Are there more than three testimonials or references you can check?