5 Roofing Scams and How to Avoid Them
Sadly but true, there are some unscrupulous roofing companies quite skilled in separating homeowners from their hard-earned money. But, despite not being roofing experts, there are many steps homeowners can take to prevent being scammed by disreputable roofers.
Homeowners best line of defence against roofing scams is becoming educated consumers before being in need of roofing services, such as repairs and re-roofs. Here are five tips to being an informed consumer when dealing with roofing companies competing for your business in Palm Beach County, Martin County and northern Broward County.
1. False or Exaggerated Repair Claims
An old trick-of-the-trade is scaring homeowners into believing their roofs have more damage than actually exists, or that they need a re-roof instead of a repair. TIP – Homeowners should request visual evidence of the damage, such photos or video footage. Or, if your roof is extremely safe to walk on, consider going on the roof with the roofer to personally be shown all areas in need of repair or replacement.
2. Out-of-Area Storm Chasers
When hurricanes and severe weather strike South Florida and the Treasure Coast, out-of-area ‘roofers’ flock to our area to seek out work. Many of these so-called ‘gypsy crews’ are uninsured, unlicensed and provide inferior quality roofing services. They’re impossible to locate once they leave town and leave you without any warranty guarantee. TIP – Steer clear of them and use an established local company. Check their license plates to see if they’re from out of state or out of the area, and ask for a legitimate form of identification.
3. Bait and Switch
Here’s when a roofer reels you in with a sweetheart of a deal to get you as a client, but soon informs you − conveniently after the project begins − that you require more work due to unanticipated damage. You feel trapped because work has already begun and you feel obligated to pay the extra costs, or risk an exposed roof if the roofer walks away. TIP – Get a thorough inspection report to find any and all possible problems, as well as look at the contract’s fine print for any additional potential charges. Also, get a minimum of three estimates to compare offerings and pricing. Research online to learn if the company has a reputation for this type of tactic.
4. Inferior Material
This is when a roofer provides you a quote based on high-quality material then uses inferior products to increase their profit margin, risking the quality and durability of the work. TIP – In the contract, get in writing the make and model of the materials for your house (especially the more expensive items such as, but not limited to shingles, tiles, underlayment and skylights). To be confident you’re getting what you’re paying for, ask to see receipts for these purchases or, better yet, inspect material upon arrival.
5. Sign Now Deals
A major red flag raiser is when a roofer wants you to sign a contract immediately after conducting an estimate. Don’t fall for “I’ll give you a five percent discount if you sign right now,” trick. A professional roofing company never uses high-pressure sales techniques to secure your business. TIP – Never sign an agreement the first time you meet a roofer, unless you received other estimates to compare against. Get a minimum of three estimates and review the pros and cons of each estimate. The least expensive price may not give you the best value. Compare ‘apples to apples’ in what you’ll get from each company. A reputable company should provide you with a promised discount when you’re ready to make a decision − not on their time schedule.
Other tips to protect you from disreputable roofing companies
Make sure the company is licensed by going to the website for the Florida Department of Business & Profession Regulation at www.MyFloridaLicense.com/dbpr and then conduct a license search to find if the company is currently licensed.
Ask the roofing company for a copy of its insurance policy. Then call the insurance company to confirm the coverage is current and has not lapsed, been cancelled or revoked.
The holder of the permit is responsible for the work, so require that the permit is under the roofing company’s name − not yours. This is an added layer of protection for homeowners.
Get, in writing, the entire process of your roofing services from start to finish. This will enable you to monitor the work and hold the company accountable.
After the crews have left and the inspector has approved the completion of the project, require that the company returns to your home for an additional inspection. This helps ensure the work was done properly and in compliance for the terms of manufacturer and workmanship warranties. A good rule of thumb for when to conduct the post-work inspection is to have the company return about one month after completion of the project, which allows for settling and to look for any leaks from rain.
Protect yourself by always getting a written and duly-signed contract, regardless the size or cost of a project. Take your time reviewing the details, and don’t be afraid to request revisions. Also be sure to get a copy of the signed agreement.
Conduct online research of roofing companies by perusing reputable websites such as www.AngiesList.com, www.Thumbtack.com, www.Yelp.com, Better Business Bureau (www.BBB.org), as well as online court records and your local newspapers. Also, some of your best sources of information are your family, friends, neighbours and co-workers. Ask them who they’ve used and if they’d recommend them to you.