8 Common roofing scams and how to avoid them
If you live in South Carolina then you know all about our stormy summer weather. With our frequent thunderstorms, high wind, and hail comes the very real possibility of damaged roofs! Unfortunately, there are unscrupulous businesses out there just waiting to swoop in after particularly serious storms hoping to take advantage of you and your neighbors. Thankfully, a little bit of knowledge can keep you safe from these scammers. We’ve gathered 8 ways for you to avoid fraudulent roofing contractors trying to take advantage of homeowners.
Storm chasing roofers seem to come out of nowhere, showing up in town right after severe weather has scoured your town. If they’re “from out of town” or you can’t verify where their business is located, you should immediately be wary about working with this roofer. Scammers wait for towns or small communities to be hit by a natural disaster and then ride into town, offering roof repair services for ‘discounted’ prices. They frequently promise that their projects will be completed in an impossibly short period of time.
When a con artist approaches your front step, they’ll be very pushy with their pitch, usually offering a “free roof inspection” or “free quote” to fix your roof. These scammers have even been known to damage perfectly fine roofs during these free inspections!
If you say you can’t afford their services, they’ll simply advise you to file a claim with your homeowner’s insurance so that they can garnish your insurance deductible, sometimes even committing insurance fraud. They’ll do absolutely anything to get their money. If you ultimately agree to their services you can expect them to perform sub-par work, take longer than promised, and go over budget!
Low Starting Bid
The way this type of scam works is the fraudulent roofer will quote you insanely cheap prices which will inevitably rise after they start working. A quote that was once $1,800 will now quickly spiral to upwards of $5000.
Before having anyone repair your roof after a major storm make sure that you receive multiple quotes from different roofing companies to make sure the price is realistic. If the price seems too good to be true and you have no way of verifying the business, it’s probably not legitimate. Contact the Better Business Bureau (BBB) to report them immediately as they are most likely scam artists.
Roofer Inflicted Damage
This disgusting business practice goes hand-in-hand with storm chasers. After a big storm you’ll get a knock on the door and a roofer will tell you that they were in the area and noticed some damage to your roof. They’ll tell you they can go up and take a look so they can give you a quote. Sure enough, as they come back down the ladder they’ll have bad news: your roof is damaged and is sure to leak the next time a storm comes through.
The biggest red flag you should see here is that reputable roofers don’t just spend their time driving around neighborhoods looking at roofs! Anyone showing up at your door like this is almost certainly not the good Samaritan they are pretending to be.
When roofing companies offer to cover your deductible, steer clear! In this type of scam they’re inflating their service price to the insurance company and pocketing the difference. If your insurance agent decides to investigate, they may trace the fraudulent activity back to you, potentially putting you on the hook for insurance fraud.
When fraudulent roofing companies are looking for a mark for their next roof scams, they’re very strategic about making sure their plan is successful. They’re known for hiring high pressure salespeople.
One of the most common tactics is imposing artificial timelines such as “today only” deals. You should always be encouraged to shop around to get the best value. If the salesperson doesn’t seem to be interested in waiting for your business, they probably don’t care about doing quality work.
Requiring Full Payment Upfront
Roofing scammers usually require 100% of their payment upfront. Unsuspecting homeowners may fall into this trap, but did you know that you should only be paying 10-30% of your payment upfront? If you are asked for full payment you should immediately look for someone else to do the job.
Contractors Without a License
Make sure to verify that the roofing contractors are licensed. While roofing contractors in South Carolina are not required to have a license, reputable roofers have one. It may be a good idea to verify their license so that you know their legal names in case you run into problems down the road. You can look up contractor license statuses at the South Carolina Department of Labor Licensing Regulation site.
Roofing materials aren’t cheap – or the type of material you want to have used on your roof shouldn’t be cheap. While you don’t need the most expensive shingles on the market, you should be careful shopping purely on price for roofing materials. Cheap materials wear out more quickly and may even suffer from problems right after installation! Avoid these problems by doing your research and making sure you select quality materials for your roof repair or roof replacement.
How To Avoid Roofing Scams
Do your research before talking to any salesperson
Do your homework! When you know what you’re looking for, you’ll have an easier time avoiding roofing scammers. Rennison Roofing encourages all of our customers to educate themselves about roofing basics before asking anyone to come and offer a quote for a new roof. Having some knowledge about your roofing issue prevents you from being taken advantage of by dishonest contractors.
Have a list of questions ready for all the roofers you talk to
When you contact a roofer you should have some idea of what sort of questions you’ll need to ask them. If you’re not sure what kind of questions you should ask, refer to our “Questions you should ask a Roofer.”
Be wary of door-to-door salespeople
Roofers are generally very busy – particularly after a big storm! The odds that a roofer just happened to be in the area and casually noticed some damage to your roof is very low! Lying about why they’re in the area should be a red flag that warns you they’re up to no good.
Get multiple quotes
Price shopping is a normal part of any home improvement project, including roof repair. Make sure that you’re getting a fair price by getting multiple quotes from reputable companies. Good roofing companies will encourage you to take time to shop around.
Listen carefully to what’s being offered
Make sure that you and a witness are listening very carefully to the services being offered. Keep in mind everything you’ve learned while shopping around. If what the salesperson says isn’t in-line with what the majority said, avoid them – it’s likely a scam.
Read the fine print
Make sure to read the fine print. If you’re uncertain about a contract’s wording, have someone who’s knowledgeable about roofing review the document with you. Look specifically for a request for an assignment of benefits.
Signing a contract with this as a condition gives your contractor the right to deal directly with your insurance company and in some cases waives your rights to do so. While some legitimate companies have assignment of benefits policies, most do not. Be careful if you see this clause.
Check their ratings online
Most reputable roofing companies have a social media account or a Google My Business account that reviews can be left at. Search for the company and see if they have ratings or reviews. Good reviews that look legitimate might clear a roofing company from being scammers, but not entirely. Reviews and ratings don’t guarantee that a company is worth your money because scammers can pay to have reviews written. One way to check on this is to look up a few of the reviewers and see if they live in the area. If none of the reviewers seem to live in your area that tells you to avoid this company.
Don’t be afraid to say no!
Never be afraid to say no. Just because you agreed to meet for a consultation or quote doesn’t mean you have to agree to sign a contract or pay a large down payment. Use the power of no when your gut is just telling you that something isn’t right. Remember, any roofing company worth working for will be perfectly fine with waiting for your business.
Finding a Reputable Roofer
A new roof is a huge investment, make sure you’re paying your hard-earned money to a reputable company that cares about the well-being of your home. Rennison Roofing is available to help you with any of your roofing needs. We’ll happily provide you with a quote and we stand by our quality work. Whenever your roof needs a repair, do your research and keep these 8 tips in mind in order to avoid these common scams and make sure your roof is in good hands.