Your roof is an important investment. And like most important investments, taking care of it can come with a high price tag. According to Home Advisor, most roof repair projects cost between $774 and $1,156. A re-roof costs even more: here in Tennessee (East South Central Region in the 2014 Cost vs. Value Report), a typical mid-range roof replacement costs around $17,246.
The good news is that you can almost always get a decent return on your investment. The bad news is the reason why I said “almost”: the proliferation of roofing scams.
Just last year, Henderson-ville resident Nickey Evans was sentenced to serve 10 years in prison for stealing a total of $27,000 from Jackson and Madison county homeowners. Evans had been operating an unlicensed business called Inspector Roofing and was paid thousands of dollars for roofing services that were never completed. None of the victims who came forward was able to get a refund.
Recognizing Roofing Scams
Information is your best protection against any type of scam, and knowing how to recognize a dishonest roofer is half the battle. Below is a list of common roofing scams and how they work.
Scam #1: The Storm-Chaser
Of all the roofing scams, this one is probably the most popular. It involves contractors who follow in the wake of a storm and take advantage of people whose homes have been hit. They shortchange you by doing only the bare minimum to fix your roof. Their work is shoddy and rarely holds up well for long, but by the time you spot the problem, the roofer has hightailed it out of town.
Scam #2: The Disappearing Down Payment
Some roofers will ask you for a down payment for roofing supplies. While this isn’t an automatic red flag, you should know that roofing companies that are in the black always have the means to acquire the supplies they need without your down payment.
To safeguard yourself against scams like this, never pay a contractor upfront until the supplies have been delivered. Even then, you have to be on alert: some roofers will bill your insurance company without mentioning your deductible so they can keep the money you paid out-of-pocket.
Scam #3: The Door-to-Door Salesman
Door-to-door salesmen’s game is to show up unannounced and offer a free roof inspection. They then show you photos of an already-damaged roof and pretend that it’s yours—or worse, fabricate damage on your own roof—to trick you into hiring them.
Your best protection against these seemingly friendly salespeople is to refuse to let them go up on your roof and to say no when they ask you to sign any paperwork. Remember that a legitimate roofer will never coerce you into get roofing work done if you do not need it.
Don’t Be a Victim
Besides learning how to recognize roofing scams, here are other tips to help you steer clear of dishonest contractors:
- Only hire roofing companies that are fully licensed, bonded and insured.
- Check reviews on the company on Angie’s List and the Better Business Bureau.
- Understand your home insurance policy. If you know what kind of roofing services your insurance provider covers, you’ll have a lower chance of getting scammed.
- Get everything in writing. Make sure your contract covers the cost breakdown, payment information, job timeline, and other important aspects of your roofing project.
- Never offer complete payment for an incomplete project.
Cameron Davis is a roofing consultant for Bill Ragan Roofing. In his twelve years in the roofing industry, Cameron has helped hundreds of Davidson County homeowners make smart decisions about their roofs. He enjoys sharing roofing tips and industry insights through his articles.