A new roof on your home is a substantial investment. Homeowners can expect to spend anywhere from $5000 up to $25,000 depending on the size of their home, the location, and the type of materials chosen for the job. On average a new roof will run around $12,000.
Unfortunately, the roofing industry is rife with dishonest and unqualified companies who are in it to make a profit regardless of the effect that their unethical business practices can have on your home and family. There are a lot of scams out there perpetrated by individuals and companies who are very good at spinning lies to get you to part with your money.
Know What to Look For, and What to Avoid
Choosing a contractor to perform any type of work on your home is a serious decision. So before investing such a large chunk of your hard-earned money, we’re here to help with a list of the 9 types of roofers to avoid, and information on how you can spot them.
1. Avoid Uninsured Roofers
So, what happens when you hire a company to install a new roof on your home, and an accident occurs. Perhaps one of the new guys on the team slips and falls off your roof. Well, if that company you hired isn’t insured properly, guess who is liable for their medical costs? That’s right, it’s you.
Or maybe the new guy takes out your bay window while setting up the ladder or takes out a nearby power line. Guess who is paying for the repair cost? Unless the company you hire has the right insurance, it’s you again.
You Could Be Held Liable
Accidents are going to happen. It’s just the price of doing business. Choosing a contractor who is properly insured means that you’re not going to pay that price yourself. If someone is seriously injured on the job, there’s even a risk of you being sued for lost wages and medical expenses.
It Could Void Your Homeowner’s Insurance
If the contractor you choose is uninsured and an accident occurs, it’s your homeowner’s insurance that will cover the cost. And in many cases, choosing uninsured contractor voids any homeowner’s policy coverages you may be eligible for.
They’re Probably Unlicensed
Hiring an uninsured roofer is a bad idea all around and puts the homeowner on the hook for potential liability and damages that occur. And because most of the time, having the proper insurance is a prerequisite for getting the appropriate licensing, chances are an uninsured company is unlicensed as well.
How to Avoid Them:
Of all the roofers to avoid, uninsured roofers are at the top of the list. Do your research on a company before signing any contract or documentation. Any reputable contractor will be more than willing to produce proof of both their liability insurance and worker’s compensation insurance upfront.
2. Avoid Roofers Who Ask for Too Much Down Payment
Providing a down payment upfront is a normal occurrence when contracting a roofing company. It’s a good faith payment and helps companies cover the cost of materials before work begins. A typical down payment is usually between 10-30% of the total cost of the project.
If a roofing company asks you for any more than 1/3 of the payment upfront, it’s a sign that something isn’t right and that’s a roofer to avoid. A roofing job carries a hefty price tag already and paying too much of the cost upfront puts homeowners at very high risk.
They Can Take the Money and Run
Another reason this is one type of roofer to avoid is that these types of scam artists sometimes leave the work unfinished. They simply disappear into the sunset, never to be seen again, leaving homeowners stuck with half of the work done.
How to Avoid Them:
Having a contract in place is the best way to protect yourself from dishonest roofers. Understand the terms clearly and read the fine print carefully before signing any document. Typical practice for payment involves paying a deposit or down payment upfront, and then paying the remainder of the cost after the work is completed.
Another safeguard is to ensure that any payment you make is in the form of a check, debit, or credit card. Never make payments in cash, because there is no paper trail to prove you upheld your end of the bargain.
It could also be helpful to look into payment insurance. This type of coverage can help homeowners recover losses if a contractor leaves a job unfinished or does shoddy workmanship.
3. Unlicensed Roofers
Hiring a contractor who is properly licensed is one of the best ways homeowners can protect themselves when choosing a roofing company. Most people don’t understand the complexities of licensing requirements, but the bottom line is this: if you choose an unlicensed contractor to install your new roof, it puts you at great risk for financial liability.
They’re Probably Not Bonded or Insured
As we mentioned before, licensing and insurance typically go hand in hand. A reputable company will have both, and most disreputable companies will have neither. And on top of the typical liability and worker’s compensation insurance, having the proper licensing means that companies can be bonded.
Being bonded means the company provides another type of insurance that protects consumers if a contractor doesn’t complete the job. Unlicensed and unbonded contractors are one type of roofer to avoid.
You Aren’t Eligible for a Mediator
Hiring an unlicensed roofer also limits your ability to defend yourself legally if things go south during or after a job. Hiring a licensed roofer gives you the right to have a licensing agency mediate disagreements with a contractor. Without a mediator, your only recourse is to file a civil lawsuit against the contractor with no guarantee that the company will still exist to pay you damages in the end.
You Could be Fined
On top of that, some states will even fine homeowners who allow unlicensed contractors to perform any work. That’s because unlicensed contractors often lack the knowledge to safely perform the work asked of them, especially regarding local building codes.
It Could Void Manufacturer Warranties
Roofers use materials made by different manufacturers, most of who offer a warranty on their products. In the event that some of their materials fail, the warranty will cover the cost of replacement parts. That is unless you used an unlicensed roofer, in which case that warranty may be voided, and you will be stuck with the bill.
How to Avoid Them:
If you’re going to pay the high price for a new roof, it only makes sense to protect your investment from the start, and that means hiring the most competent contractor to do the job. Ask for details about their licenses, insurance, and bonding before any contract has been signed.
You can also check the Better Business Bureau for information about individual companies.
4. Storm Chasers (Opportunist Roofing Companies)
Much like ambulance chasers, storm chasers are contractors who canvas an area after an incident of severe weather. Hail and wind damage are frequent causes of a roof needing repair, and often those repairs are serious. So, it makes sense that roofers would look to sell their services in an area that was recently affected by storm damage.
They Take Advantage of Homeowners
The problem with storm chasers is that they are dishonest. They will send teams of “salespeople” into neighborhoods that have experienced bad weather and try to make as many sales as possible. They prey on people’s fear and emotions and will talk you into a repair job or even a complete roof replacement when it’s not needed.
Storm chasers will also try to make their deal sound extra sweet by offering to do the work at a steep discount or even for free. Or they may tell you that your homeowner’s policy will entitle you to a rebate or a cash back incentive that will reimburse you for the cost of the repairs. They might even say that they will cover the cost of your deductible. Don’t fall for it.
They Do Sub-Par Work
Often the work done by storm chasers is sub-par at best. It’s done as cheaply and as quickly as possible. Storm chasers will try to pressure you into signing a contract without allowing you time to assess the situation yourself or do any research into your homeowner’s policy or the contracting company itself.
Most of the time these companies are uninsured and unlicensed. They also try to land as many contracts as possible in a very short amount of time, meaning they might not have the resources to complete the work on time. There’s even the possibility that they might collect your down payment and then disappear, leaving you with a damaged roof and less money than you started with to repair it.
How to Avoid Them:
To avoid this type of roofer and protect yourself from scams, don’t rush into repairs after a storm. If you have encountered damage to your roof related to a weather event, the first call you make should be to your insurance company. Make sure you understand that most policies allow a grace period of somewhere between a year or two for you to file a claim, so there’s no reason to rush.
If a contracting company knocks on your door after a weather event, ask them for a phone number, physical address, or contact information so that you can call their office directly. Companies that operate with just a P.O. Box should be avoided. Don’t sign any paperwork right before doing proper research. And never allow someone onto your roof who just wanders into your neighborhood.
5. The Cheapskate
Repairing or replacing a roof can be costly, so it makes sense that some homeowners might be looking for a good deal when shopping for contractors. The problem here is that roofers who offer bargain basement prices are likely using cheap materials and taking shortcuts that can cost homeowners and businesses more in the long run.
They Use Low-Quality Materials
When roofers try to complete a job as inexpensively as possible, they are using lower-quality materials that can lead to a premature failure of your new roof. While you might save some bucks on the overall cost upfront, chances are that repairs will be needed much sooner than they would if the contractor was using higher-quality materials and taking the time to do the job right.
They Go Out of Business Quickly
Roofing is a tough, competitive industry. Often, newer companies who are struggling to compete offer cheap prices and use low-quality materials to sway new customers into signing that contract. The problem is that inexperienced companies often don’t survive, so any warranty or guarantee they offered you on that roofing job is going to be null and void when that company goes out of business.
They Cut Corners
When roofers are looking to offer a cheap price to customers, those savings have to come from somewhere. Whether they skip steps that can prevent future damage or choose low-quality materials, the cost you save upfront is going to come right back when that roof fails sooner than it should.
They Offer Worthless Warranties
The lifespan of a new roof has a lot to do with the type of material used. When cheap shingles are used, a roof is likely to fail much sooner. And choosing a cheap contractor usually means you get a cheaper warranty as well. High-quality materials come from reputable manufacturers who offer extended warranties on their materials, sometimes for as long as fifty years.
Contractors who use cheap materials won’t be able to offer anything near that length of time or level of coverage. Most contractors who opt for cheap materials are only able to offer a two- or five-year warranty on the work they performed themselves.
How to Avoid Them:
The cheapskate is one type of roofer to avoid. Remember the old adage: you get what you pay for. Just like you wouldn’t put sub-par parts on a vehicle you expect to last another ten or twenty years, you shouldn’t hire a contractor who is going to use cheap materials for your roof job.
Choosing a contractor to do a roofing job should include looking at several factors apart from just the final price. Get quotes from several companies or utilize online resources to get an idea of what the local market charges for new roofing.
You can also ask around your neighborhood to see how other people’s experiences with a company were. Ask specifically about the quality of work performed and if the roof has held up over several years without issue.
Always ask to take a good look at both the manufacturer warranty and the warranty from the contracting company itself to best understand what the coverage limits are. Always do your research before signing any contract, and don’t verbally agree to anything before seeing it in writing.
6. “Salesy” Roofing Companies
Another type of roofer to avoid is the sales pusher. Nobody likes a pushy salesperson. But that doesn’t mean they’re not out there, and roofing companies are not immune to this type of sales tactic. Roofing companies that are too focused on making sales rather than performing a high-quality service to customers are a red flag.
They Use High-Pressure Sales Tactics
Pushy roofers use a variety of tactics to pressure customers into making hasty decisions that could cost them thousands of dollars in the long run. They might tell you that your roof is in terrible shape and if you don’t act to repair or replace it now, it’s in danger of collapsing.
They Tell You It’s Now or Never
Or they might say they can offer you a fabulously discounted rate on a job if you are willing to sign a contract today. If you aren’t comfortable signing your life away on the spot, then they threaten to walk away and take their amazing prices with them.
Legitimate roofing companies will never use high-pressure sales tactics to scare you into signing a contract. They will always allow a customer as much time as they need to consider their options before signing a contract.
How to Avoid Them:
If a salesperson is pressuring you to sign a contract without allowing you time to think about it first, give them a polite no thank you, and take your business elsewhere. A good roofing company will never pressure or guilt you into agreeing to something without ensuring you’re comfortable first.
Another problem people encounter with contractors who are focused on sales rather than service is poor communication. They have no problem sending a salesperson to your home to pressure you into signing a contract, but if you ask for a day or two to think about it before committing, there’s a good chance nobody is going to answer your calls or return your messages.
Always ensure a contract is in place before any work begins, and make sure that the company provides you with ample time to look over, read, and understand everything that’s in that contract. A good contract should include every detail regarding the work that will be completed, the total price of the job, the agreed-upon down payment, and approximately how long it will take from start to finish.
7. Roofers With False Good Intentions
Another type of roofer to avoid is the “good Samaritan.” Be wary of roofers who offer free inspections to persuade you into believing your roof is badly damaged and in need of repair. Much like storm chasers, the goal of these roofers is to scare you into believing there is an urgent need for repairs even when they may not be necessary.
They Create Damage Where There Was None
There are even cases where roofers who were permitted access to a homeowner’s roof intentionally cause damage. They offer a free inspection as a way to gain access to your roof and then create the damage themselves, leading you to believe that your roof was already in disrepair.
They Target Vulnerable Populations
Scammers like this may target neighborhoods that have a high number of aging homes or a large percentage of vulnerable populations, such as low-income families or senior citizens. This allows them to easily take advantage of people who could benefit from free or discounted services.
Contractors who prey on these types of situations are the lowest of the low. They pretend to be good Samaritans who just happened to be passing by and stop to offer their services to someone in need. But in reality, they are taking advantage of people who often don’t know better.
How to Avoid Them:
If a stranger randomly stops by your home to inform you that your roof is in serious need of repair, ask for their contact details. Get the name, address, and phone number of the company they claim to represent, and then wish them a pleasant day.
If you suspect that there may be actual damage to your roof that needs to be addressed, always take the appropriate steps before signing any document. Even a contract for a free inspection or estimate could be littered with fine print that could easily be overlooked and could stick you with a hefty price tag for sub-par work.
Never let a random stranger onto your roof. Always ask for a second opinion, or even a third, before making any decision about how to move forward.
8. Low Balling-to-High Balling Scam
Another roofer to avoid is the low baller. This scam involves contractors who offer a great deal upfront. But once the job begins the price suddenly creeps up. Usually, the contractor will claim that unforeseen issues caused the price to increase and that there was nothing to be done about it.
They Stick You with a Higher Price
This leaves customers with unexpected costs that they may be unwilling or unable to pay, leaving them with an unfinished roof. If a roofer refuses to provide an estimate, or if the estimate seems abnormally low, it’s probably too good to be true. In this case, it’s probably best to find another company to do the job.
Reputable roofers will be upfront about the cost of materials and labor. Of course, the cost of materials fluctuates, but this should never be reflected by an increase in the cost of a new roof. Once a contract is in place it is extremely unethical for a contractor to raise the prices.
They Don’t Cover the Details
Reputable roofers will also be upfront about issues that could lead to an increase in the cost of the work being performed. Often, it’s difficult to inspect the decking, or the bottom layer, of a roof upfront. But a good roofing company will explain issues like this before putting a contract in place and will be sure homeowners understand the potential increase in cost.
How to Avoid Them:
Finding a sale is a good thing, and of course, there will be roofing companies that have promotions designed to bring in business. But when the starting price is too good to be true, then it’s a red flag. Always get estimates or quotes from more than one company to get an idea of what the market is charging for similar work in your area.
Ask the roofer upfront about potential increases in cost related to issues that may arise unexpectedly. Be sure to get a clear answer about how those issues will be handled and who is responsible for the cost.
Always have a contract in place that addresses the cost of labor, materials, and the potential cost of replacing the decking. Having a contract that covers all the potential costs related to the job will prevent disreputable roofers from sneaking in price increases and extra costs that weren’t agreed upon before the work was performed.
9. False Insurance Claims
One of the most popular scams and a definite roofer to avoid is the insurance scam artist. A roofer shows up at your home and claims that your homeowner’s insurance will cover the entire cost of your new roof. The roofer even says they will deal with the insurance company directly, so you don’t have to.
For people who are concerned about how they will pay for such an expensive investment as a new roof, this can seem like a miracle fix.
Insurance Fraud is a Big Deal
For many homeowners, this seems like the perfect solution to their problems. They get a new roof, the roofer gets work, and the insurance company foots the bill. Unfortunately, it’s one of the biggest scams out there and equates with full-out fraud.
A lot of homeowners are unfamiliar with their insurance policies. They can be very long documents full of legal terms that can be confusing to understand. But generally, homeowners’ insurance will cover damage to your roof if it is caused by fire, hail, wind, falling trees, or an “act of God.”
Short of any of these occurrences, aging or damaged roof that results from normal wear and tear is the financial responsibility of the homeowner and is considered one of the costs associated with owning a home.
They Put You at Risk
Roofers involved in this type of scam charge you low prices and then fabricate insurance claims at a higher rate and pocket the difference. Sometimes they even offer to cover the cost of your deductible, which in most states is completely illegal.
Despite its illegality, many homeowners may be tempted to fall for this type of scam because the cost of a new roof is out of their budget. After all, insurance companies can afford it, right? While that may be the case, using a roofer who is involved in insurance fraud can put the homeowner at risk.
They’re Dishonest in More Ways Than One
Consider it this way: a roofer who is dishonest enough to file false insurance claims is probably not the kind of person you want performing expensive work on your home. They are more likely to cut corners, use low-quality materials to save a buck, and may even stick you with an incomplete job.
How to Avoid Them:
The best way to prevent being caught in an insurance scam is to follow the tips already covered. Always ask for contact information, including a physical address. Ask for copies of their license and insurance documents. Have a written contract in place before work begins. Request a roofing warranty and read it carefully.
It can also be beneficial to ask the roofer directly for references or check the Better Business Bureau to see if there have been complaints filed from unhappy clients in the past.
Choosing a roofing company can be overwhelming. When faced with an expensive roof repair or replacement, many homeowners or businesses may find themselves struggling to come up with the funds. But that shouldn’t mean you have to settle for dishonest or disreputable contractors or settle for less than top-quality workmanship.
Researching a company before signing a contract is one of the best ways to ensure you choose the right roofer. Always check to make sure they’re professionally licensed, bonded, and insured. Always get a contract upfront. And check reviews online or from past customers to get a clear idea of what their business practices are like.
Things to Look for In a Roofing Company
Choosing a reliable and reputable roofing contractor can help ensure that your roofing construction project is painless and as smooth as possible. You can check the Better Business Bureau website for negative reviews or complaints to get an idea of a company’s business practices. You can also check local online referral boards to see what your neighbors think of a company.
A good roofing company should be more than open to communicating with clients about pricing, timelines, and their qualifications. If a company is unwilling to be upfront about any of these topics, it’s a red flag.
Roofing is an industry that requires detailed knowledge. Poor installation resulting from inexperienced contractors is a major problem for homeowners and might result in the work having to be redone or repaired.
· License and Insurance
Any contractor who performs work of any kind on your home should be licensed, bonded, and insured. This includes insurance for its employees and subcontractors. This protects you from liability related to injuries that could occur on the job. On top of that most states require roofing contractors to be licensed. Any roofer should be more than willing to show you these documents upfront.
A warranty on a new roof is non-negotiable. This protects you from wasting your money on poor workmanship or materials that could result in your roof not holding up as expected. Make sure you understand the details of a warranty before signing any contract, including how many years are offered.
Now that you know which types of roofers to avoid and be on the lookout for, you can focus on picking a great, reputable company to install your new roof.