Roofing Scams and How to Identify Them
At Southside Roofing, an informed customer is our ideal customer. We know, however, that it’s tough to stay abreast of home improvement activities that involve roofing because of the infrequency of roofing tasks. Today’s quality roofing systems last 30 to 40 years, and most people only require roof replacements twice during their lives. Unscrupulous roofing contractors take full advantage of homeowners’ lack of knowledge and unfortunate circumstances to pull off some of the most scandalous scams in the industry.
Common Roofing Scams
#1 The Vanishing Down Payment
It happens all the time. A property owner realizes that his or her home’s roof is damaged and must be repaired as soon as possible. The homeowner knows that the job is going to cost them a sizeable amount of money. If the person has not budgeted for those roof repairs or a replacement, he or she is susceptible to the vanishing down payment scam.
During this scam, the roofer offers the homeowner a tempting low-ball quote but states that a down payment is needed to start the project. The homeowner is eager to get the work done at a low price and hands over the down payment. The scammer takes the down payment and leaves town without doing any work.
Most professional roofing contractors will start a roofing job without taking your money for labor and materials. If your chosen contractor wants a down payment to start a job, you need to be alert to a potential scam. You need to choose another contractor or at least wait until the roofing supplies arrive at your home to give the roofer your down payment.
#2 The Storm Chaser
Homes that are located in areas that are prone to hurricanes and other storms are magnets for roofing scammers. These con artists are called storm chasers because they wait until after a community has a major storm to drum up roofing business with distressed property owners. They canvas neighborhoods and hand out flyers that describe their low-priced roofing services.
When a homeowner responds to their advertisements, the scammers take a down payment and leave town with the money. Some heartless scammers tear up roofs to simulate roofing work and leave after they receive the homeowners’ installment payments.
You can identify the beginning of the storm chaser scam by investigating the advertised company that you want to hire for roofing work. Ridiculously low roofing repair and replacement prices for storm-damaged roofs are big indicators that you’re about to become the next victim of the storm chaser scam.
#3 The Unsolicited Sales Call
Some scam artists are armed with cunning sales tactics and not much else. These unethical salespeople, who are disguised as roofing contractor representatives, spring the unsolicited sales call scam.
During the unsolicited sales call, you’ll receive a knock on your door and an introduction to a possible problem with your roof. Most of the time the problem is the sales person and not your roof. The person will try to convince you that your roof is damaged from a recent storm, age, or normal wear. Some will provide you with pictures of the roof damage if you let them inspect your roof. In a best-case scenario, they’ll take your money and do little else after you sign a contract with them. During a worst-case scenario, they take your money and leave you with more roofing damage.
You can spot this scam before it gets in full swing by paying attention to the salesman’s pitch and asking questions. If the salesperson is using a lot of roofing jargon to explain what’s wrong with your roof, you’ve just identified a potential roofing scammer. It’s likely that he or she knows little about roof repairs or replacement and that will become apparent to you after a few minutes of listening to the person’s pitch.
#4 The High-Pressure Neighborhood Sales Call
Some roofing scams are a little harder to identify, but they are just as potent as the more blatant deceptions. If you’re like many homeowners, you live in a subdivision. Your community is filled with homes that were built around the same time. When your neighbors begin to replace their roofs, you need to consider replacing yours too.
The high-pressure, neighborhood sales call happens when a roofing contractor becomes aware that roofing work is being done in your subdivision. He or she makes sales calls to homes in the area and offers deals on roof repair and replacement work. These sales people are pushy and often want you to sign a service contract with them before you have time to discover that their services are overpriced or inadequate.
#5 Fluctuating Contract Price
The fluctuating contract price trick is a roofing scam that causes stress to homeowners. This one happens when a roofing contractor provides a low-price bid and wins the work. The company representative draws up a contract that is based on a specified scope of work and the quoted low price. The roofers get halfway through the project and want to modify the agreement to increase their price. They might say that material costs went up or that they found unexpected roof damage that wasn’t covered in the original scope of work.
During this scam, the roofers are at a distinct advantage. They’ve likely torn up your roof during the repair job, and they know that you don’t have the time, money, or inclination to take them to court. Material price increases don’t happen overnight, and they are not the responsibility of the customer.
There are cases when roofing contractors find legitimate damage after starting a job. When doing a roof replacement, our roofers often identify damage to underlying wood decking only after pulling up old shingles. We, however, account for this in our contracts. We disclose to our customers that discovery of underlying damage during a roof replacement will cost extra, and we indicate how much we charge based on the size of the damaged area.
#6 The Poor Repair
Doing shoddy work is one of the subtlest roofing scams in the industry. Roof repair work can look professional, and your roof can appear to function properly for a time. It may take years for amateurish repairs to become apparent. When this happens, you could face more serious roofing problems.
Roofing projects are usually infrequent. A roof gets replaced after several decades of use, or a strong storm makes roof repairs necessary. Since unscrupulous contractors don’t expect to make you a repeat customer, they often decide to cut corners on roofing projects.
#7 Insurance Fraud
Whatever you do, don’t let roofing scammers draw you into their unethical schemes. Some roofing scammers will charge you a price for your roofing project and bill your insurance company for a higher price. The roofing contractor could offer to pay for your insurance deductible or provide other freebies if you go along with this scam. Don’t be tempted to do this. Insurance companies have large legal departments, and they can and do go after people who commit insurance fraud.
Best Ways to Avoid Roofing Scams
The most effective way to avoid roofing scams is to always get multiple estimates for roofing projects from reputable companies. If three out of the four companies have similar cost estimates and scopes of work, the potentially phone fourth company will stand out from the rest.
Another way to bypass roofing scams is to know your roof. Don’t let roofing issues sneak up on you. Have your roof inspected periodically by reputable professionals before you develop any serious roofing problems.
Roofing scammers cause a lot of problems for stressed homeowners. They can take your hard-earned money and leave you with damaged roofs, high repair bills, and potential legal problems. Making you aware of these scams is good for you, us, and the entire home improvement industry. If you have questions about roof repairs or replacements in and around Broussard, Louisiana, give us a call to find out more about our services.
Contact Southside Roofing today at 337-856-ROOF for a free estimate