You can spend $20,000 or more on roof replacement. If you take on this major investment, the last thing you need is a contractor who’ll rip you off, so it’s important to know about the three most common roofing scams.
One common scam is a contractor who insists on getting paid before work begins, or who wants an unusually large down payment. They may also ask you to sign over your insurance check to buy materials. Avoid this by hiring a well-known company with the proper credentials, bonding, insurance and a good reputation. These companies won’t ask for full payment upfront.
“These scam artist contractors will say, ‘Hey, all we need is we need that first check. You give that to us, we’ll get you scheduled to go,’ and then in the worst cases they just disappear,” says Judd Haag, of Bone Dry Roofing.
Another common scam involves a friendly stranger going door-to-door in your neighborhood after a storm, offering quick, cheap labor for cash on the spot. Like the down payment ploy, they usually disappear once they have the cash. Some will do a little shoddy work first. Avoid this by just saying, “No thanks,” and remember, the best roofing companies are busy already and don’t have to solicit.
“Unfortunately, there might be scammers that come into town after a storm, so be sure that you’re checking the company you’re using – that they have a valid license, they have insurance so that you know that you’re working with a reputable company,” says Angie’s List founder Angie Hicks.
The third common scam is the too-good-to-be-true low bid. You jump at the chance to save money, but soon come the upcharges. In the worst cases, contractors will remove your existing roof and demand more money to finish the job. The final bill can easily eclipse those other bids you once had in your hand. Avoid this by checking the Angie’s List pricing guide to see your market rate, and get at least three bids to compare.
“You want an apples-to-apples estimate, so make sure you know exactly the type of material your roof is made of. Is it an asphalt shingle roof? Is it a tile roof? Also, you’re going to need the full dimensions of your roof if you’re going to get an accurate estimate,” Angie says.
Nearly a dozen states don’t require roofers to have a license. In this case, local reputation, online reviews and a confirmation of license and bonding is required. Paying by credit card is a great way to protect yourself in case the job goes wrong.
If you have major roof damage, it’s easy to get impatient and go with the first company that will come to do the work. Angie says even in a disaster situation, follow best hiring practices, which includes doing your homework on the company that’ll work on your home.
States that do NOT require a roofing license, based on Angie’s List research:
5. New Hampshire
6. New York
8. South Dakota