The guys who give us honest roofers a bad name.
Often you hear of people being scammed by their contractors. Roofing is a service where these scam artists take advantage of homeowners. Most homeowners are not experienced when it comes to their roofs. They only replace a roof once or twice in their lifetime. Just as not all scam artists claim to be roofers, not all roofers are scam artists. Know the signs and do the research to be sure you get the quality work you are paying for.
One of the most common scams is the roving roofers or “Storm Chasers”. These companies will come to town where storms have hit. They will tell homeowners that they have storm damage and will help them get a new roof paid for by the insurance company. Once an agreement is made, the roof work is either never completed or done poorly. Often a roof installed by a storm chaser will need to be replaced in the next 5-7 years. Before any claims or refunds can be made, the scam artists have moved on to a different town and can’t be reached.
Protect your investment and watch out for the signs that indicate a possible scam:
- Door-to-door salesman.
Storm Chasers often go door to door, offering a free inspection on the spot and telling the homeowner they have damage and they can help them, but they need to act fast. Not all door-to-door roofing salesman are scam artists. Sometimes they are honest roofing contractors working on other homes in your neighborhood and want you to notice the quality of work they do and talk with the neighbor about them and then call them for an estimate. Be wary of those that pressure a fast decision.
- High-pressure sales.
A scammer has a limited time to get the homeowner’s commitment. Often they will make great offers and claims but the offer is good today only. They may be offering high prices and don’t want to allow the opportunity to be underbid. It could also be that they know if the homeowner does some research, they will find negative reviews and ratings for their roofing company. Scammers may also require a down payment to get a special price. This is another red flag because they may take the money and run. Scammers also know that there may not be significant enough damage to the home for the homeowner’s insurance policy to pay to replace it and they want a commitment to the work regardless.
- Too good to be true offers.
One common offer is the no or waived deductible program. This may be insurance fraud. Dishonest roofers will encourage homeowners to submit fake receipts to the insurance company or change the order afterward, reducing the price in exchange for putting their sign in the yard or other compensation. This results in the insurance company paying the deductible. Homeowners are unknowingly participating in insurance fraud.
- Changing/increasing costs.
This is a tough one. Once a roofing project is started, it is quite possible that problems could exist that wasn’t visible during the estimate. Honest roofing companies will clearly explain and address these issues with the homeowner. A scammer who gave a low bid will claim to have found problems and drastically raise the cost of the job and threaten to stop working if payments are not made. These unforeseen problems may or may not actually exist.
- Asking for an insurance check.
Some dishonest roofers will require that you sign over your insurance check or contract that they negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf and that a check is sent straight to the roofer. There have been instances that once that check is received, the roofing company is not heard from again.
- Up-front payments.
Most reputable roofers will stand by their work and not expect payment until the job is satisfactorily completed. Be cautious with roofing companies that require all payment upfront or large down-payments. They may not return to do the job.
- Salesman causing damage.
Sometimes the scam artist salesperson will actually cause damage to the roof where it doesn’t exist so that insurance companies will pay. Insurance adjusters are knowledgeable and will recognize this and deny claims, leaving the homeowner with a damaged roof or large bill and poorly installed roof.
So how do you protect yourself?
- Don’t give in to pressure. Take time to do the research and consider your options. A quality roofer will wait for you to choose them.
- Get multiple estimates, Talk to several companies and compare damage reports.
- Look for a local address and a company history.
- Do not make large down-payments and never pay in full upfront.
- Check references. Look up the roofer in the BBB, Angie’s List, and other online review sources.
- Check that they are registered and licensed appropriately and carry the proper insurance.
- Stay involved with your insurance claim.
- Go with your gut feeling. If it feels wrong it probably is.
There are quality, honest, established roofing companies. Know the signs of a scam and be sure you hire one of the good guys.
Craig Gouker Roofing has been installing quality residential roofing in South East Pittsburgh since 1991 and is the expert in shingle roof replacement.