How to Spot a Roofing Scam
Roofs are built to last. Hopefully, you will not have to deal with the construction of a new Portland area roof many times in your life. But when you do, you want to make sure it gets done right.
Unfortunately, everyone has heard horror stories about roofing companies. While most roofers are honest businesses, some scammers know homeowners often make easy targets. Most have never replaced their roofs and don’t know what to expect. They see this as an opportunity to swoop in and take advantage of you without actually providing a quality roof in return.
In this month’s post, we’ll go over roofing scams we’ve seen in the Portland area, and the best way to avoid falling victim to them.
A top roofing scam, storm chasers seek out storm-ravaged regions looking for damaged roofs to “work on”.
After storms, insurance companies will pay to replace damaged roofs. Scammers are looking to capitalize on this. They know two things:
- How much insurance will pay out
- The cost of putting a cheap roof on your home
Once hired, they will do the absolute bare minimum. While you (or your insurance) will be paying for a roof that should last for 20 years, in reality, you will be receiving one that’ll last you a fraction of that.
How to Avoid the Storm-Chaser Roofing Scam
Only work with established contractors in your area. Since storm-chasing contractors are moving from town-to-town, they will not be there when your roof is leaking just a couple years down the line.
Established contractors are your neighbors and are incentivized to do a good job. Not only will they be held accountable for shoddy work, they know their reputation and business relies on good work.
Unprofessional Door-to-Door Salesmen
You should not have to be sold on your roof replacement.
Door-to-door salesmen target neighborhoods with large senior-citizen populations and clusters of old homes. They often will promise a “free roof,” when really they mean your insurance will be footing the bill.
Since these salesmen know insurance has to pay out to make any money, they will often damage the roof themselves if they don’t see enough damage during the inspection.
Not only is this dishonest (and illegal), but replacing your roof before it truly has to be replaced can:
- Expose you to insurance fraud
- Increase your insurance premiums
- Prevent you from taking full advantage of your roof’s life
How to Avoid the Door-to-Door Salesman Roofing Scam
While there are many reputable and community-focused roofing contractors that market in neighborhoods they are working in, make sure to look out for disreputable contractors who:
- Are from far outside your community
- You cannot find online
- Are not forthcoming with information on the damage to your roof
The Overly Aggressive Salesman
The overly aggressive salesman will try to get you to commit to a roofing project even if you are deeply uncomfortable.
Generally, the overly aggressive salesman scam will start like any other roofing consultation. Once they have inspected the roof though, they will try to get you to sign on the dotted line immediately under the guise of a one time only special deal or low rate.
How to Avoid the Aggressive Salesman Roofing Scam
Sometimes it may be hard to differentiate between a passionate salesperson from a reputable company and an overly aggressive salesman that does not have your best interest at heart. Make sure to be on the lookout for these signs of an overly aggressive salesman:
- The salesperson is offering a major discount to get you to sign on the spot
- They can “call their manager” to lower the price if you sign today
- Their “special deal” is extremely low compared to other bids.
Honest and reputable roofing contractors know their work stands on its own and don’t rely on high-pressure tactics.
If you ever ask the salesman to leave and they refuse, do not hesitate to call the police.
Demand Full Payment Up-Front
Beware any company that requires you to pay all or the majority of your bill upfront for your roofing project.
These scammers will justify the payment by explaining they need money to buy supplies and hire labor before starting work. Once they have the cash or check in hand, they will bolt, leaving you without your money or a new roof.
How to Avoid the Payment Up-Front Roofing Scam
While most roofing contractors will require some form of down payment (generally around 20%) before work starts, you should never pay for the majority of the job upfront.
If a contractor is asking you for anything over 50%, do not work with them. A respected roofing contractor will have the resources to cover any material and labor up front, and will not make you pay a majority up-front.
If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. One of the more common scams in the roofing business is the fluctuating (or rollercoaster) bid.
Generally, the roofer will bid significantly lower than competitors. Since many homebuyers are inexperienced with roofing, the roofer knows they will jump at the opportunity to pay less.
Once the old roof is off, the roofer will then find mysterious “new” issues that weren’t seen before, raising the price significantly from the initial bid. In a worst case scenario, some might even threaten to leave mid-job if you don’t pay the new amount, leaving you without a roof!
How to Avoid the Rollercoaster Bid Roofing Scam
While unexpected problem can pop up mid-project that could increase your cost, a respected contractor will let you know this is a possibility before starting the job. Any price increase should never be a total surprise.
Make sure you understand the total cost of the bid and get everything in writing. Ask other contractors about variations between quotes. Ask the lowest bidding contractor why they are able to offer such a low price compared to competitors. Make sure you receive good answers and research the company before signing anything.
How to Avoid Roofing Scams
A well-educated customer is a scammer’s worst enemy.
The best way to avoid roofing scams is by asking the right questions, both to yourself and any roofer you are considering.
Some questions to ask:
- How are their ratings and reviews?
- How experienced are they?
- Do they use good roofing products?
- Are they insured?
- Do they provide written estimates?
- Are products and labor covered under warranty?
- Will you get a point-person with the roofer?
Make sure you are getting satisfactory answers to all of these questions before signing on with any roofing contractor.
Work with a Reputable Roofer
Cutting Edge Contracting has built up trust in our community by building quality roofs in the Portland and Vancouver areas for years. We’d love to work on your new roof. We always provide written estimates, and all of our roofs use the best materials and are covered under our 12-year labor warranty.
Contact us today by calling (360) 433-2803 to receive a free in-home estimate and quote for your roofing project.
Sean Kelly is the COO & President of Cutting Edge Contracting. His background in business, accounting, and the construction industry helped him become the award-winning manager of a nationally-known paint company before joining Cutting Edge.