How to Avoid Being Ripped off by a Roofing Contractor
After a hail storm get ready to be inundated with door to door salesmen, phone calls, and letters from roofing contractors. Many Americans affected by storms often find themselves overwhelmed by contractors and are very easily scammed out of their hard earned money.
When hail storms hit an area, scammers come out of the woodwork and it's not uncommon for homeowners to be ripped off by an unscrupulous contractor.
The most common scam is to ask for money up front and then abscond, never to be seen again. Also, many shoddy contractors will underperform, providing poor workmanship at an exorbitant cost and try to illicit more money from you in the process.
If you have been affected by a hail storm, you should look out for these common scams.
Signing a blank contract
Many unscrupulous contractors will try to get you to sign a blank contract under the guise that it gives them permission to inspect your roof. Don’t fall victim to this lie. Read carefully exactly what you are signing and NEVER sign a contract that gives the contractor the right to negotiate directly on your behalf with the insurance company or without a firm quote listed. BEWARE, If you sign a contract without a firm quote, you are giving the contractor the right to negotiate the claim settlement on your behalf without your input. Many unscrupulous roofing contractors will put “INSURANCE PROCEEDS” instead of an actual quote. Only sign a contract when you have a firm quote and you are satisfied with the contractors price and are ready to hire. Don’t Fall Victim!
A typical job will require about 10% of the cost up front, just as a good faith payment that you are scheduling the contractor's time. But the scammer will ask for 30-50% of the project price up front, saying that he has to order materials and/or rent machinery to get the job started. Then the scammer will disappear and not be seen from again, or they will start the project with shoddy workmanship.
Do your homework - Solicit at least three bids for your project and check Angie's List, industry associations and previous clients' references before hiring. Visit the contractor's completed projects during the bid review process, particularly when it's a big job. You should also talk to friends who have had done work recently to get recommendations.
Check status and references - Check your state contractor's board to see if a contractor is required to have a state or local trade license to do your job, and then verify his or her status with the appropriate licensing agency. Ask for proof of liability and workers' compensation insurance and bonding (if applicable). Ask for and check references for past jobs, and also suppliers they often use.
Negotiate a detailed contract - It should specify the various responsibilities of both the contractor and the homeowner, start and completion dates, terms that tie payments to job progress and completion, details of the work that's being performed, itemized materials and any warranty information, and whether subcontractors will be used. Also require that the contractor is responsible for obtaining all of the required building permits.
The recent hail storm in DFW has some estimating damages of upwards of $400 million. Storm chasing contractors are flooding the market to get their piece of the pie. Don’t fall victim during this trying time.