Contractor scams are common, and roofing scams are often easier to pull off on unsuspecting homeowners. With roofs up so high and mostly out of sight from the ground, it is easier for a roofer not to complete work as promised because the homeowner will never see it. Storm damage, which requires rapid action by a homeowner to prevent interior damage, often causes them to make unwise decisions when choosing a contractor.
Here are a few different types of roofers who take advantage of homeowners and how to prevent yourself from being ripped off.
Types of Roofing Scams
Every storm season, year after year, homeowners fall prey to predator con artists pulling roofing scams. These roofer con artists give the industry a bad name, and their shenanigan schemes leave trusting families strapped for cash and stuck with a shoddy roof on their homes.
Keep an eye out for these eight types of common roofing scams that scammers perform year after year.
Many Roof Scams Start with Mystery Damage and Unexplainable Issues
Your roof seems like it’s in good condition, even after a big storm, and the roof is not even that old. Then, one day, out of the blue, you have a roofer knocking on your door, claiming he couldn’t help but notice the damage on your roof that needs to be repaired immediately to avoid bigger issues down the road.
This con artist is so glad that he just happened to be going by when he noticed the issues with your roof that, if fixed right away, will save you tons of money in the long run. This roofer points out some vague damage you can’t see but claims it is a big red flag. Maybe this roofer will even offer to take a closer look and, sure enough, spends an hour on your roof using all his equipment, then comes down, grim-faced, claiming it’s a real mess up there.
Some shady roofers have been known to claim there is damage to a roof when there is none or there’s not enough damage to warrant a total roof replacement. Others have even been caught generating damage themselves. These are the con artists that give home improvement companies a bad name.
Storm Chasing Roof Scams
Nervous homeowners can be easy prey for opportunistic scammers after a damaging storm passes through an area. Some con artist roofers called “storm chasers” follow bad weather events in search of damaged roofs. They frequently travel door-to-door, passing out leaflets and offering to repair or replace roofs that look damaged or, in some instances, roofs that are not damaged at all.
Part of the game of a storm-chasing con artist is to convince homeowners that they can get a new roof for a considerable discount or even for free by filing an insurance claim after a big storm. The roofer gets paid, and the homeowner gets a new roof, even if it’s not needed. The massive insurance company with billions of dollars cuts a check without batting an eyelid.
Be careful of the work done by storm chasers as they are after low-hanging fruit, so the workmanship is often very poor quality. The storm chaser con artist hits a neighborhood hard with sales, wants to replace as many roofs as possible, and then get out of town. The lifespan of these rapidly constructed roofs may be half or much less than that of a well-constructed roof.
Insurance Fraud: A Classic Case of Trying to Get Someone Else to Pay
There are various ways a roofing contractor can attempt to commit insurance fraud. If a roofer wants you to sign over an insurance check or offers to pay your insurance deductible, they might be trying to commit insurance fraud. Even if a roofer says they’ll charge you less for the project, it’s not a deal worth taking. They could take the larger payment from the insurance company and pocket the extra funds, which is insurance fraud.
If a contractor wants you to sign over an “Assignment of Benefits” (AOB) from the start, that’s also a red flag. An AOB gives a contractor permission to work on your behalf when filing an insurance claim, which may provide them access to commit insurance fraud.
Extremely Low Bid
Any contractor giving you a project estimate much lower than other contractors is likely too good to be true. Usually, a contractor who bids very low at the start raises the price as the project progresses.
Large Down Payment
A contractor who requests a large down payment might be scamming you. It could signify that they plan to take your money and run. Instead, look for a contractor who asks for a reasonable down payment and outlines further payment terms in a contract. A reasonable down payment is typically 15% or less of the total project price.
Sometimes, a contractor might offer you a price break or use “leftover” or discounted materials. These so-called “special deals” rarely lead to a durable roof that will last for decades. Instead, get quotes and project details from at least three different roofers and take time to research the materials they’ll use to repair your roof.
They Ask You to Get the Permits
A contractor should always secure any necessary permits for the project. If a roofer requests that you obtain the roofing permits, it may indicate that they aren’t eligible to get a permit or have worn out their welcome at the permit office.
They Ask to Be Paid in Cash
Be wary of any contractor who asks to be paid in cash or offers you a price break for paying in cash. These are warning signs that they might take your money and skip town without doing any work, and you will be unable to track them down.
How NOT to Get Scammed
Before signing any paperwork, talk with at least three local roofing contractors to get price quotes and learn more about their backgrounds and process. Get referrals and recommendations from friends, family, and neighbors to help find someone skilled and trustworthy.
Check Their Licenses
This is one of the BIGGEST red flags out there. If someone is offering you their business and they have no licensing to back it up, more than likely, they’re there under false pretenses. Always ask for proof of a roofer’s qualifications and experience. Read “How Do You Choose a Good Roofer?”* for more info on this subject.
Watch Out For the “Good Samaritan”
When the good samaritan roofer, who just happens to be driving by and spots severe damage to your roof from a moving vehicle, shows up at your door with a twinkle in their eye, tell them to check it out. Tell them you will have several other companies also come and check it out. Also, watch them when they are on your roof – you don’t want them up there causing unnecessary HVAC issues.
If you believe there is something to their claim, get a second opinion. Under no circumstance should you let a stranger on your roof or sign a contract based on an out-of-the-blue, high-pressure sales tactic.
Listen Carefully to What’s Being Offered
Make sure that you and a witness listen very carefully to the services 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.
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 sizeable down payment. Use the power of “no” when your gut tells you something isn’t right. Remember, any roofing company worth working with will be perfectly fine waiting for your business.
Finding a Reputable Roofer
A new roof is a considerable investment; make sure you’re paying your hard-earned money to a reputable company that cares about the well-being of your home. Legacy Restoration is available to help you with any of your roofing needs. We’ll happily provide you with a quote and stand by our quality work. Whenever your roof needs repair, do your research and keep this article in mind to avoid these common scams and make sure your roof is in good hands.