How To: Spot Roofing Scams

Some roofing companies use tactics to scam you into getting a roof that you don’t need. It is easy to be scammed, especially when you’re when you feel your roof needs to be replaced now. However, it pays off to take your time searching for the right roofing company and know all the roofing scams.

In order to know who to choose, you need to be aware of who NOT to choose. Most scam artists follow the same tricks, so we’re here to share them with you so you can avoid them. Here’s how to spot them, and how to avoid them. 

Showing Up After a Storm

Many roof scammers are called storm chasers because they call or knock on doors right after a big storm. “Storm chasers” travel door-to-door searching for damaged roofs to repair or replace after bad weather events. This shady type of contractor dreams to replace as many roofs as possible for the lowest possible cost—and then skip town. They’re trying to find easy targets by telling homeowners that a recent storm damaged their roofs. You may have had some damage occur but if the contractor seems in a rush with you, odds are your roof is perfectly fine.

How To Avoid It 

Professional roofing contractors are usually too busy after a storm to make house calls to strangers. If someone shows up out of the blue or calls you repeatedly, be very skeptical. Pump the brakes before you let a storm chaser rush you into replacing your roof. Take a deep breath and do your homework. Gather as much information as you can about the roofer’s insurance, local references, licenses, and reviews. You can never know too much about the contractor tasked to work on your roof.

Using Industry Jargon

Roofing scams have one goal: Get cash from a homeowner quickly and then disappear. Scammers will frequently be pushy and persistent when trying to have you sign a contract or provide financial information. However, they may avoid discussing the details about what’s actually wrong with your roof.

While the occasional scammer may try to climb on your roof to find or even create a problem, most just try to bluff their way through, hoping that homeowners won’t question the jargon they use. 

How To Avoid It

Always ask questions. Ask for details about exactly what’s wrong with your roof, and how they will repair it.

Insurance Fraud

Stop the process if a contractor is offering to cover your insurance deductible or give you a free incentive. Some may offer to contact your insurance company to determine your coverage for roof repair, while others may try to hide the fraud in your estimate. Some scammers may even suggest faking reports or covering deductibles so they can charge more money. Besides being illegal, this is a deal-breaker. If a roofer will cheat your insurance company, they will cheat you, too.

How To Avoid It

Listen carefully to a contractor’s offer. Beware of any roofer that offers to pay your insurance deductible or pushes other no-cost incentives. Again, it pays to do your research in advance.

No Free Inspections

Many professional roofers offer a free inspection or estimate before they work. Second To None Exteriors, LLC provides you with a free inspection so that you understand what needs to be done. 

How To Avoid It

If they don’t offer a free inspection, pass and move on to a reputable roofing company. 

Low Starting Bid and “Unforeseen” Problems

Scamming contractors will start with a low bid and end up raising their price in the middle of the project, due to “unforeseen problems” or inflated material costs. (It is important to note that roofing material costs fluctuate, but rarely does this happen in the middle of a project.) In the end, their work costs you more than you going to a qualified roofer who gives you the correct bid upfront. 

How To Avoid It

When in doubt, ask about added charges and hidden fees. Do your homework. Talk to multiple roofing contractors about pricing. Before you sign, make sure your contract covers as many curveballs as possible. The best roofers in the game protect you from this common scam by offering one price for both labor and materials.

Roofer Inflicted Damage

This really happens. A roofer knocks at your door, telling you he spotted some signs of damage. It’s weird because the last storm was weeks ago. He’d like to inspect your roof to make sure everything is okay. Odds are he will be vague about the damage, saying it’s something you can’t see. But really, when he’s on your roof taking a closer look, he’s actually creating damage that was never there in the first place. 

How To Avoid It

Don’t do this. Under no circumstances should you let a stranger on your roof. Avoid their high-pressure tactics by getting a second opinion. Never sign a contract based on an out-of-the-blue, high-pressure sales tactic, and always get a second opinion before you hire a roofer to repair or replace your roof.

Inadequate Repairs or Poor Materials

This is one of the harder roof scams to spot. The inadequate repair and poor materials scam can rear its ugly head long after the roofer completes the job.

The scam starts with a cheap quote. You are happy with the results at first and even months down the road. However, many roof problems happen below the surface. (A contractor can install new shingles, for example, without fixing the core issue.) The end result is a roof that looks great but performs just as poorly as before.

Whether created from cutting corners or by skimping on nails or adhesives to save time and money, inadequate repairs can go unnoticed until a heavy storm hits. However, you can take measures to mitigate the potential damage to your roof and home.

How To Avoid It

Speak to multiple contractors before hiring one to repair your roof. Start with a good idea about the project and the dishonest roofers will stand out like a sore thumb. Once again, pump the brakes. Give yourself time to weed out the shady roofers by calling contractors as soon as you notice a problem. Follow up by inspecting the roof at various stages of the project.

Other Red Flags

No Online Presence

When choosing a roofer, look for an online website, online reviews, Better Business Bureau ratings, social media, and any other data. Scammers rarely have an online presence, or at least not one that is well-reviewed. Reading reviews that other consumers wrote is always a wise idea.

Contractor Asks For Payment Upfront

Asking for a large down payment of over 15% or full payment upfront is not okay. Be wary. You can pay a deposit, but one should not make the full payment until they complete the job to your satisfaction. Roofing contractors that ask for full payment upfront disappear before they even start the work.

Your “No Scam” Checklist

  • Get a written estimate and contract.
  • Compare the cost estimate from your insurance provider with the estimate by the roofer/contractor. They most likely won’t match exactly but should be similar for the covered loss.
  • Ask for and check references. Roofers and contractors should provide the names of previous customers. Call several former customers who had similar work done to make sure they were satisfied with the job. 
  • Ask for proof of insurance.
  • Make sure the roofer or contractor carries general liability insurance and workers’ compensation. If the contractor is not insured, the homeowner may be liable for accidents that occur on the property.
  • Use licensed roofers and contractors.
  • Get guarantees in writing. A complete contract should clearly state all the tasks to be performed, all associated costs, and the payment schedule. Never sign a blank contract or one with blank spaces. Make sure the contract clearly states who will apply for the permits or licenses.
  • Get local building permits if required.
  • They may require permits for site work, other than demolition, and for reconstruction. Contact your local government for permit information.
  • Pay by check after they complete the work.
  • Avoid on-the-spot cash payments. The safest route is to write a check to the contracting company.

Avoid scams by calling us at 636-699-0449. For the best job done, call Second To None.