We all know the feeling of dread after our homes are hit by major storms. Hail and high winds can easily dent, damage and deteriorate your roof and when it happens, it’s natural to want it fixed as quickly and affordably as possible.
Unfortunately, disasters can bring out the best and worst in people, and this is especially true during extreme weather season. It’s this time of year that many people are scammed by “storm chasers,” a name given to fraudulent contractors who travel with hazardous weather, attempting to take advantage of homeowners who lack experience dealing with roofing, or who are potentially vulnerable to making an unwise decision in the name of urgency. It’s borderline unbelievable that there are people out there who exploit others who have had their homes and livelihoods upturned at the hands of Mother Nature, but it happens dismayingly frequently.
Below are some important tips to help you not only avoid potential roofing scammers, but to make sure you’re finding the right people for the job. And if you have more questions or are looking for legitimate storm damage specialists, Rayburn 1 General Contractors has maintained an A-plus rating with the Better Business Bureau for over 10 years and will provide a no-cost inspection of potential storm-related damage.
Do some homework on your contractor
A scam contractor will likely attempt to dodge questions about accreditation, references or past work. A legitimate business in good standing will probably be happy to discuss it — since a good reputation reflects the great work and customer satisfaction they’ve achieved in the past.
Before deciding on and making a commitment to a certain contractor for your roofing work, make sure they’re a high-graded, accredited business with the Better Business Bureau. It’s a good idea to review their profile on the Bureau’s site. It will tell you if your contractor is local, which means they have roots in the community and aren’t fly-by-night storm chasers. If you notice a high number of complaints for a business, don’t ignore it.
The higher the grade, the higher the BBB’s opinion is of how the business is most likely to interact with its customers, and the grade is based on information the BBB has about the business itself, including complaints. An A-plus score, like the one earned by Rayburn 1, doesn’t come easily.
Stay away from roofers who apply high-pressure techniques
A good roofer or contractor will help educate you on your options, ask you questions and be responsive and respectful. Avoid any contractor who is applying high-pressure sales. Many scammers rely on people who bend to these discomforting tactics, so trust your gut and stand your ground if you feel you’re taken advantage of. On the flip side, if a charming salesman swings by offering something that sounds too good to be true, remember this tried-and-true advice: it probably is.
Never agree to a down payment — and be wary of contractors who ask for one
Paying a contractor a large down payment before they start or complete your work is ill-advised. Legitimate contractors have their own credit line they can use for the work, and can collect your payment for services and materials once the job is complete.
Many disingenuous roofing contractors will only agree to replace a roof if you pay them before the work itself starts — and then they pull a disappearing act, taking your down payment and never returning to your home to do the work.
Beware of contractors who say they will cover your deductible
It is unethical – and almost always illegal – when a roofer offers to pay or waive your insurance deductible. Though laws in most states prohibit this type of arrangement, it can be difficult to enforce, which emboldens less principled roofers to use the shady practice. Instead of taking the chance on a dicey legal matter, find a Better Business Bureau accredited contractor who can work with you and your insurance company to find the best – and most honest – deal available.
Check the paperwork
Before any roofer starts doing work on your home, it’s important to ask them for key documents. Thoroughly read over the proof of insurance, which should shield the homeowner in case of injury or accident. Review the warranty to see what it covers and how long it is in effect; always opt for one provided by the manufacturer, who likely has greater financial means and a strong business foundation. Carefully read over the contract and any fine print, the total and line-item costs, the contractor’s contact information and anything you must sign.
Steer clear of discussions about signage
A reputable roofing contractor will not attempt to pay you money to put a sign in your yard that advertises services and contact information, as doing so can be illegal. If a contractor you’re considering does so, you’re better off finding one you know for sure is legitimate and has a positive reputation in your area and community.