Top 5 Most Common Roofer Scams (and How to Avoid Them)

No flat roof is invincible. Over time it will sustain damage, especially after a harsh winter or scorching summer.

Unfortunately, there are many unreliable roofing companies that are more than happy to separate property owners from their money. These scams are widespread in the home improvement industry, and the tactics these roofers use to rip off clients can be convincing, especially if your roof needs urgent attention. From skipping town once they’ve secured a large deposit to overcharging for materials, roofer tactics to con customers are becoming increasingly bold.

To protect you from being taken advantage of and to help you recognize potential scammers, our experts have prepared this post.

Roofing Scams You Should Watch Out For

 

  1. Storm Chasers

Storm chasers are scam artists who drive door to door through your neighbourhood once a big storm has passed. They’ll convince you that the strong weather must’ve damaged your roof.

Here are some things you should look out for:

  • They’ll show up unannounced and offer discounts too good to be true.
  • They’ll force you to make a hasty decision.
  • They provide poor workmanship that may shorten your flat roof’s lifespan.
  • They take the first insurance company cheque and disappear.

 

Though the storm may have done some damage, if the contractor seems to be in a rush, odds are that there’s nothing major wrong. Remember, reputable roofing companies have their plate full and don’t have time to go door to door looking for projects.

  1. Disappearing Deposits

A common scam sees the contractor agree to replace or repair the roof but requires the client pay upfront. From labour to materials, costs can vary. However, these roofers will disappear as soon as they have the money. This is frequently seen among supposedly new roofing companies without an established reputation, so they try to secure business using flashy websites and brochures.

Reputable companies don’t ask you to pay anything upfront, even if they’ve just been hired for an inspection. They may ask for an upfront payment to cover the cost of raw materials, but anything beyond that is a red flag. It’s a good idea to thoroughly research any roofing company you’re considering to make sure it’s well-known and well-reviewed.

  1. Cash Payments

Replacing your flat roof will most likely cost thousands of dollars. But would you just hand over cash to a stranger without getting anything in return? If a roofer asks for the full payment upfront, there’s a good chance you’re doing just that. Since cash is hard to trace, it’s the go-to for experienced scammers. A professional roofing company never asks their clients to pay for the whole project in cash. That’s because they want a paper trail of the payment just as much as you do, to prove the transactions are aboveboard.

  1. Insurance Fraud

If you have insurance against flat roof damage, you’ll doubtless file a claim to get the repairs done and the insurance company will issue a cheque to help you get started on repairs. Property owners are expected to use this money to hire a roofing contractor and bill the insurer once work is complete. Most scammers are aware of this process and are looking to get their hands on these cheques. They’ll show up and quote a price you can’t refuse, and in some cases may pressure you to sign a contract. Then they cash the cheque and vanish without a trace.

If you want to avoid getting scammed, be careful never to hand your insurance cheque to the roofer. While it isn’t unusual for a roofing company to ask for a deposit, you shouldn’t have to pay them until they’ve delivered the supplies. You should only make the payment once you see the materials have been delivered.

  1. Fluctuating Bids

Also referred to as an ‘elevator ride’, this scam sees the roofer secure your job by bidding much lower than what you’ve been offered by other contractors. In such fluctuating bid scams, you’ll notice “unexpected problems and costs” arising that make the final cost skyrocket.

Once you receive multiple proposals, review them and compare the scope of work the companies are offering along with their prices. A good roofing company should offer a bid on all issues related to your roof upfront. The only exception should be structural damage to your property not visible during the inspection.

Roofing scams aren’t altogether uncommon, which means thousands of property owners fall victim to them every year. The five red flags mentioned in this blog should help you avoid being conned and ensure you hire a reputable roofing company to get the job done. That means one that will work hard and offer great service, without overcharging for the project.

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