Are You a Victim of a Roofing Scam?
Unfortunately, roofing scams run rampant and prey on vulnerable homeowners. Today we will discuss how to avoid these scammers. Here are some signs to look out for:
How the scam looks: Someone knocks at your door saying they are a contractor and noticed your roof was damaged while just passing through. More than likely after a big storm.
How it works: The problem here is even the best roofers cant spot damage “just driving by” as many will claim. Unless of course, the damage is so painfully obvious that the homeowner already knows. If they haven’t even checked your roof they have no way of knowing if it’s damaged or not.
If you agree to the repairs they will not do anything, since your roof probably isn’t damaged. Or on the off chance it is, the repairs will be done poorly. Scammers like this are almost always from out of town so they run after the “work” has been done. This makes following up and finding them much more difficult. It has also earned them the name “fly-by-night” contractors. These con artists may even offer to deal with your insurance for you. This brings us to our next scam.
How the scam looks: A contractor offers to deal with insurance for you. They may even generously offer to cover your deductible.
How it works: We know dealing with insurance can be a hassle. So it may seem like a dream come true when a contractor offers to deal with it for you but this is a huge red flag. This contractor will charge you less, pay the deductible, then bill your insurance for way more than the work they did. That extra bill to insurance goes straight into their pockets.
Now as a homeowner you may be wondering; what’s the big deal? I got a cheap roof. But that’s the thing; you get a cheap roof. These contractors employ cut and run strategies so there is no incentive to do good work. They use cheap materials and hasty cut-rate labor to put up as many roofs in a neighborhood as cheaply and quickly as possible. Some homeowners may not even realize how bad a job they did until they need a new roof a few years down the line. The roof you get will not be worth what you paid for it and may cause unnecessary damage to your home that is more expensive to repair. Not to mention insurance looks out for this kind of thing. If the contractor gets busted you will probably get caught up in the mess even if you honestly didn’t know.
How the scam looks: An unlicensed contractor solicits you in a state where roofers are required to be licensed.
How it works: This one gets a bit tricky. Not all states require roofers to be licensed, checking local regulations is the best way to confirm laws in your area. So if you live in a state where a license is required, they are roofing illegally, plain and simple. More than likely they are also running a “fly-by-night” operation.
The thing is licensed roofing contractors carry insurance coverage for things like a liability. This is important since accidents do happen. If someone were to fall and hurt themselves you may be held liable and not the contractor. Licensing also vets that they are using high-quality materials, have ethical practices, and have strong workmanship. This is why so many roofers harp on being insured.
Asking for Full Payment Upfront
How the scam looks: They ask for you to pay in full before work even begins.
How it works: Being asked to pay a flat rate deposit or a percentage of the total estimate is 100% standard operating practice. Asking for full payment or even 50% down, is a huge red flag. There is no reason to do this since there is no way to know exactly how much materials will be needed or how much labor will be used. This is why you are given an estimate before work begins, not a bill.
Sometimes the roofers will use less labor and materials than they originally thought they needed, dropping the price. And sometimes they find out a roof is in much worse shape than they thought and will cost more to fix. There is no way to give a total bill until work is completed. If someone is asking you for full payment it probably means they will take your money and run. If they do end up doing the work it will more than likely be done way cheaper than the price you paid because this scam works best with low overhead costs.
How the scam looks: A contractor you have not agreed to work with gets up on your roof and claims it is seriously damaged.
How it works: Do not let a contractor you have no agreement with getting onto your roof. Part of that is a liability. Another part of that is accountability. Some less than reputable contractors will go up and cause the damage themselves and claim it was like that when they got there. Some won’t even do that much and they will just show you pictures of someone else’s damaged roof saying it is yours. If you can get pictures of your roof and closeups of any damage that may already exist before allowing anyone up there. This can help protect you in the long run and avoid this scam.
Low Starting Bid
How the scam looks: You are offered a price that is a fraction of all other bids.
How it works: The old saying; “If it is too good to be true it probably isn’t.” applies here. These contractors will bid way lower than anyone else but will cost you in the long run. Once work begins, suddenly everything will get “much worse than expected” driving that original low price way up. This tactic is normally employed by any other type of scammer on this list. The good news is it is also one of the easiest to avoid by simply comparison shopping. The bids you receive will probably be in a similar price range. If someone undercuts them all by thousands of dollars, it’ll be very noticeable. To be fair you should be comparison shopping for any major home repair anyway so preventing this may take no extra effort.
Just as a general guide; almost all of these scammers will employ high-pressure sales tactics. Things like “This offer is good for today only!” Or excuses for good deals like “I have leftover materials from a neighbor’s roofing job so I can give you a great deal!” If they are pressuring you to act and sign contracts the day of it is almost certain, they don’t intend to stick around. They want to get as many contracts signed and paid for as they can before either rapid-fire putting up a bunch of inferior roofs or running without doing any work.
Give us a call today at (636) 699-0449 or request your free inspection today. If you’re in the St. Charles County area and looking for an experienced roofing and siding contractor, we are bringing forth over 20 years of experience in the roofing industry. That’s something you can trust and especially if we’re in your neck of the woods.