It’s not uncommon for a homeowner to fall for a roof scam. In fact, one in every three homeowners falls victim to some type of home renovation scam, costing them tens of thousands of dollars and leaving them with unsafe workmanship.
The key to avoiding these roofing scams is to learn how to identify them so you can avoid them — and help others in your community avoid them as well.
While there are various types of roof scams that roofing contractors can commit, the common denominator is that every scam involves preying on the budget-conscious and unknowing homeowner.
For example, most roof scammers will target:
Neighborhoods with a high percentage of senior citizens
Areas with older houses
Areas that are prone to major storms
Essentially, they prey on homeowners’ fears and lack of knowledge regarding roofing and damage. They also prey on the need or hope to save money, claiming that their “competitors” are overpriced and not worth it when it comes to the average roof repair.
Once the homeowner agrees to the work, the con artist behind the roof scam will use low-quality materials, do the work quickly and incorrectly, and sometimes will take the payment up front and then disappear.
The 7 Most Common Roof Scams
Unethical roofers can be difficult to recognize at first, but once you know the warning signs, you’ll be able to see right through them. These are the seven most common roof scams homeowners come across — and how to avoid them:
1. Storm Chasers
Storm chasers are roofers that follow severe weather events in search of damaged roofs. They usually go door-to-door, passing out brochures with “information” regarding roof replacements or repairs to concerned homeowners with damaged roofs. Some will claim to have done work nearby, stating that they have extra materials and can fix your roof for cheap because of it.
They’ll also attempt to convince homeowners that there’s roof damage from a recent storm, even if there isn’t. They’ll have the homeowner fill out an insurance claim for the damage while promising huge discounts. Then, they’ll replace the roof or repair it, cutting as many corners as possible to cash in on the insurance check.
Bottom line: If a roofer shows up at your home unannounced, claiming you have storm roof damage, turn them away and call a local professional for a FREE inspection.
2. The Low Starting Bid
Some illegitimate contractors will try to offer homeowners an irresistibly low price — one that’s substantially lower than any other roofer in the area. However, once the project begins, the price starts to increase due to “unforeseen problems,” which are usually associated with inflated material costs.
While the cost of roofing materials can fluctuate, a trustworthy roofer would never increase the price of the job in the middle of a project because of materials or problems. They also have contingency plans for potential issues that can arise during a project, so there are no surprises.
If you’re offered a deal that seems too good to be true, call around for quotes from other local companies to compare it to. If it’s significantly lower than the average quote, turn it down.
3. Mystery Damage
One day, a roofer knocks on your door, claiming that they “just couldn’t help but notice the damage on your roof!” They even go as far as to show you this damage after inspecting your roof, pointing it out, and throwing around terminology that you’ve never heard of.
From there, they’ll offer to take a closer look. Once they do, they’ll claim that it’s a disaster waiting to happen and that you need to act fast. They may even cause damage while they’re up there to justify extensive repairs or a complete roof replacement.
Much like the storm chasers, the best way to avoid the mystery damage scammer is to turn them away. Don’t let them on your roof, or better yet — don’t answer the door!
4. Insurance Claim Fraud
There are several ways a roof contractor can commit insurance fraud, but the most common way is to submit two separate invoices — a lower amount to the homeowner and a higher one to the insurance company. If the insurance company finds out, they’ll not only go after the roofer (if they have their legal business name), but they’ll come after you too.
Insurance fraud can be tricky, especially when the roofer is claiming to help with your insurance deductible. Your best bet is to work with a reputable roofer that will provide you with a copy of the bill being sent to the insurance company or to send yours in to have it verified — that way, the insurance company will go after the roofer and not you.
5. High-Pressure Sales
The high-pressure sale or “today only” deal is very common. A roofer will show up to an inspection offering a special deal that won’t be there tomorrow to pressure the homeowner into signing a contract on the spot.
They leave little time for the homeowner to do any research or shop around and will likely make misleading or completely false claims if the homeowner resists. In this instance, it’s best to just walk away. A reputable roofing contractor will not only try to work within your budget, but they’ll offer financing plans to make your new roof more affordable.
6. “Discount” Materials
Shady roofers will inflate their profit margins by charging a premium for repairs while using low-quality materials. These materials are often so terrible that the work has to be redone within six months to a year, and the work itself is essentially a cover-up that only exacerbates the problem.
These types of scams often result in a too-little, too-late scenario. That’s why it’s pertinent to do your research before hiring a roofer to ensure they’re certified and only work with quality materials.
7. Large Down Payment
When a roofer demands a large down payment before beginning any work, it’s usually because they’re planning to take the money and run.
Charging a down payment of 20% to cover the cost of materials is perfectly normal and reasonable. However, anything exceeding 20% is a red flag and is grounds to refuse to sign the contract.
Don’t Become a Roof Scam Victim
The key to avoiding roofing scams is to listen carefully to what’s being offered, do your research, and not be afraid to say no. A reputable and trustworthy roofer won’t pressure you into signing a contract, nor will they charge you an exorbitant amount up front. They’ll also let you come to them instead of knocking on your door, claiming roof damage.
Whether you suspect you have roof damage or someone else comes around trying to play the good samaritan card, it’s in your best interest to call the professionals you can trust. Level Edge is Minnesota’s number one roof replacement specialist, and we offer each homeowner a free roof inspection and reliable estimates. Give us a call today to book your inspection!
Level Edge Construction
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