YouBBB Advice for Hiring a Roofing Contractor You CanTrust
Natural disasters like tornados, hurricanes andearthquakes can bring out the best in people, as strangers reach out to helpothers in need. Unfortunately, crises also bring out persons who choose to takeadvantage of the victims. Some of the most common "after-disaster"scams involve damage done to roofs.
Whether your roof got hit hard by a naturaldisaster or just needs to be replaced due to time, you need to take certainprecautions when it comes to hiring a roofing contractor. In 2011, BBB receivedmore than 3.3 million inquiries from consumers looking to find a roofer theycould trust – making it the top inquired industry in the BBB system.
BBB offers the following tips to homeowners who sufferroof damage in the wake of a natural disaster:
Do yourresearch. Check with your insurance company about policycoverage and specific filing requirements. Save all receipts if temporaryroofing repairs are necessary.
Staycalm. Although you may be anxious to get things back to normal, avoid lettingyour emotions get the better of you. Don't be pressured into making animmediate decision with a long-term impact. Be pro-active in selecting a company and not re-active to salessolicitations.
Shop around. Formajor repairs, take time to shop around and get 3-4 estimates based on the same specificationsand materials. Check out references that are at least oneyear-old, and verify that the contractor is required to be licensed and/or registeredto do work in your area. Also, check with your local building inspector to seeif a building permitis required.
Avoidhigh-pressure sales tactics. Be wary of door-to-door workerswho claim to have left-over materials from a job “down the street” or who do nothave a permanent place of business. If sales people go door-to-door, checkto see if your community requiresthem to have solicitation permits.
Trustyour gut. Be leery if a worker shows up on your doorstep toannounce that your home is unsafe. If you are concerned about possiblestructural damage in your home, have an engineer, architect or buildingofficial inspect it. While most roofing contractors abide by the law, becareful allowing someone you do not know to inspect your roof. An unethicalcontractor may actually create damage to get work.
Geteverything in writing. Require a written contract agreement withanyone you hire. Besure their name, address, license number and phone number are included in the contract. Readand understand the contract in its entirety, don’t sign a blank contract, andmake sure you get a copy of the signed contract at the time of signature.
Clearly written proposals that are detailed and brokendown into separate line items are a good sign that the contractor is being thoroughand has prepared an accurate estimate. The following is a partial list of itemsyour estimate or proposal should include:
- The type of roof covering, manufacturer and color
- Materials to be included in the work, e.g., underlayment, ice dam protection membrane
- Scope of work to be done
- Removal or replacement of existing roof
- Flashing work, e.g., existing flashings to be replaced or re-used, adding new flashing, flashing metal type
- Ventilation work, e.g., adding new vents
- Who is responsible for repairing/replacing exterior landscape or interior finishes that are damaged during the course of the work? Make sure that it contains language addressing who is responsible for any damage that occurs as a result of the work. All items of concern and work to be done should be included in the contract.
- Installation method
- Approximate starting and completion dates
- Payment procedures
- Length of warranty and what is covered, e.g., workmanship, water leakage
- Who will haul away the old roofing materials and/or project waste (e.g. extra materials, packaging, etc.)? Is there extra charge for this service?
If one estimate seems much lower than the others and it sounds too goodto be true, it probably is. Many fly-by-night contractors' below-cost bids seemattractive, but these contractors often are uninsured and perform substandardwork or use substandard materials. Make sure to read the fine print. Somecontracts use a clause where substantial cancellation fees or liquidationdamages are required if the homeowner decides not to use the contractor afterinsurance approval of the claim. In some instances you may be required to paythe full agreed price if the homeowner cancels after the 3 day cancellationperiod. If an estimate or contract is confusing, ask the contractor to break itdown into items/terms you can understand.
Disaster victims should never feel forced to make ahasty decision or to choose an unknown contractor. BBB has BBB Business Reviewson more than 67,000 roofing contractors, and they are available for free at www.bbb.org.