Banishing Roofing Repair Ripoffs
When hailstorms hit Madison, Wisconsin in July, the damaged roofs they left in their wake prompted experts to warn city homeowners about roofing repair companies. Soon thereafter, yard signs and flyers from roof repair companies littered the neighborhood. In response, reported, “Local contractors and consumer protection experts urge homeowners to do their homework first and check a [roofing] contractor’s history to avoid signing with a so-called ‘storm chaser’ who might come swooping through the area.”
The report went on to state, “State officials said that they urge consumers to learn more about any company.” More specifically, Wisconsin’s Bureau of Consumer Protection “warned that residents should be cautious of groups who might be trying to rush the deal.” Officials from the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection further cautioned, “Nearly every time there’s a big weather event somewhere in the state, the office does get calls about questionable contractors.”
Meanwhile, in Denver, Colorado, the damaging storms the city received earlier in the summer season was prompting officials to echo Madison’s sentiments. A KDVR report titled “Tips to avoid storm repair scams” revealed that in the month of June, “the Denver/Boulder Better Business Bureau says 85 percent of inquiries it received were related to roof repair.”
To prevent homeowners from falling victim to such scams and to save itself the headache of dealing with the resulting complaints, the BBB issued a list of suggestions to “avoid getting taken as far as [roof] repairs are concerned.” They included:
1. Take your time in choosing a roofing contract. Although the repair may seem urgent, signing on the dotted line with the first company who knocks on your door is setting yourself up for disaster. “Always get three bids and check each company out with your BBB,” the Denver Better Business Bureau advised.
2. Now is not the time to be trustworthy. Just because someone looks the part or says he is a roofing professional doesn’t mean he is. “Get [his] business card and contact the main office for the company [he] say [he] works for and verify the person’s employment,” the BBB cautions.
3. Try to stick to a roofing repair contractor in your own state. Out-of-state businesses are more likely to be fly-by-night operations that will be near impossible to track down, let alone dispute, down the road when a shoddy roof repair job becomes apparent.
4. Don’t sign anything without reading it thoroughly. If something is unclear to you, seek legal counsel. The BBB recommends that “you clearly understand what you and the contractor are both responsible for.”
5. Your home insurance company is your best friend on the heels of roofing damage. Contact them immediately and “conduct an inspection with the claims adjuster before involving any contractor.”
6. Make sure you contact your insurance carrier yourself. Never divulge “your insurance information to a contractor and do not allow them to file a claim on your behalf.”
7. Check with you county building department to ensure that the roofing contractor you’re considering is licensed.
8. If you’ve already signed a contract “that locks you into paying even if no work is done,” admit your folly and “contact your attorney immediately.”