Every industry has the potential to be abused by con artists, and the home improvement industry is no exception. Knowing how much people depend on and care about their homes, scammers take advantage of various situations to make an extra buck.
How to Avoid Potential Roofing Scams
The best way to avoid home improvement scams is to arm yourself with knowledge and confidence, both of which come from doing your research and thoroughly vetting potential roofing contractors. To help you be prepared, here are several common types of fraud and manipulation to watch out for:
1. Exploitative Storm Chasing
“Storm chasers” is an industry term for out-of-town salespeople who travel to areas that have been recently hit by a big weather event or natural disaster, knowing insurance companies will cover roof replacements as a result. They try to capitalize on the situation by going door to door and offering free roof inspections or other services. After finishing a hurried construction job with cheap materials, the company then conveniently vanishes, leaving you with a poor-quality roof that isn’t restored to its original condition and that will likely need fixing or replacing much sooner than normal. A good way to sniff out roofing “storm chasers” is to check if they are a local company or from out of state based on their phone number and whether they provide a PO box number or a street address. Legitimate roofing companies also will provide proof of their credentials, including license and insurance. Also, be leery of limited-time offers, especially if they follow a damaging storm in your area.
2. Fabricating Roof Damage
Another crime that often occurs in conjunction with storm chasing is fabrication of damage. This usually occurs when various illegitimate companies inspect your roof and fabricate some type of damage by physically tearing off shingles causing minor destruction or making up falsehoods to get you to sign a contract for roofing repairs. Older adults and those who have difficulty safely going onto roof to verify the damage are especially at risk of being exploited by roofing insurance scams. You should not sign paperwork for a roof repair or replacement in Delaware until your insurance company itself has done an inspection and agreed to cover the damage.
3. Asking for a Down Payment
Another common roofing scam is when a contractor asks you to cash or sign over an insurance check as a down payment for your roofing project. Once they have the check or cash in hand, they disappear without doing the work. You shouldn’t make your first payment to your contractor until you receive a copy of the detailed estimate listing all warranties and legalities and is signed by both you and the contractor. Unless you’re paying for the replacement or repairs out of pocket, you can send a copy of the bill to your insurance company to cover the remaining balance after the project is complete. Better yet, find a reputable roofer that goes above and beyond, such as Bromwell Construction Company, who will work directly with insurance companies to get paid for their work so you don’t have to deal with any back-and-forth hassle.
4. Offering a Low-Ball Bill
Repairing or replacing a roof in Delaware is an investment. Yet some homeowners aren’t aware of the actual process and costs involved in a quality roofing job, and still others are looking for a way to save as much as possible. In both instances, an unethical contractor may offer an exceedingly low bid to undercut other companies in the area. Once they’ve won the bid and started the project, however, the contractor keeps bringing up unforeseen problems and unexpected costs that lead to continually asking for additional money. The homeowner is stuck with no option but to pay whatever the contractor asks in an effort to get the job done. Be aware that you are not responsible for the price of materials going up after you’ve signed a contract or compensating for labor shortages. You should pay what was agreed upon in the original contract. Any unforeseen issues as well as the possible additional costs associated with these issues should be explained and written in the contract prior to you signing.
5. Putting on the Pressure
While not necessarily a scam, the tactic of pressuring you to sign a contract on the spot is another red flag to watch out for. Be wary of exceptionally low rates, promises of special deals, or other types of high-pressure incentives that put you on the spot and get you into a legally-binding situation before you’ve looked over the fine print. You should only have to replace the roof on your Delaware home once or twice, so make it count. Take your time. Get thorough estimates from a few different professional roofing companies before making your decision and signing a contract. Also, if the contract does not include the reasonable date of completion discussed, then you should request this in writing so that you are not stranded with a half-completed roof by an unreputable contractor.
How Do I Find the Best Roofing Contractor?
It can be nerve-racking finding a company for a major home improvement project like repairing or replacing your roof. Get recommendations from trusted sources, do interviews with prospective roofers, and check references. If you need roofing work done in Wilmington, Delaware, or the surrounding area, contact Bromwell Construction Company. We have a “no tricks, no shortcuts” philosophy for every job, big or small, and we will talk through your roof repair or replacement and gather details before developing a fair and reasonable project estimate.