Every day I hear of yet another roofing nightmare taking place as a result of hiring the wrong roofer for the job!
Let me share a few bits of wisdom to help all the naive homeowners navigate these muddy waters and avoid hiring the wrong roofer for the job.
1. Storm Chasers are often a group of shady roofers who are literally chasing the storms to find work resulting from a recent storm, wind, and/or hail damage affecting a particular geographic area.
More often than not, these guys go from state to state or town to town, working without any liability insurance or worker’s comp, without much care for the quality of their work since they never have to see you again after taking your hard-earned money!
Not only that, but the shadiest of them will take your money and never do any work at all. That’s right there is a high chance a storm chaser will disappear with your money leaving you in the dust. The bottom line is that if you do not want to throw away your money and get your hopes in humanity shattered, then don’t hire a storm chaser, especially an out of state one! 😉
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Did you know? You should beware of any person or company that puts a heavy emphasis on how you can get a new roof paid for by the insurance company!
2. Hiring a handyman “doing another roofing job” in your neighborhood. This is another popular scam somewhat similar and often intertwined with the storm-chasing scam, where a so-called “roofer doing another job in the neighborhood” knocks on your door offering to repair or replace your roof “dirt-cheap”, as they are doing another job in the neighborhood and have a a few extra guys and materials to do your roof, since they are in the area anyways.
Don’t fall for this scam, your money will disappear faster than a speeding bullet, while your roof will keep reminding you of the scam you so easily and naively fell for! 😉
3. The weekend warrior or a friend who can do your roof for “half the price” the regular guys will charge you. This one is not so much a scam, but rather a risky proposition for you, given the fact that weekend warriors will typically work without any liability insurance or worker’s comp, which could expose you to all sorts of potential legal issues, as you would be held liable for any work hazards or emergencies happening at the work site as a de-facto employer.
There is no guarantee that a weekend warrior will finish the roof in a timely fashion since he will still be obligated to his day job. Further, in a very plausible case of damage from a storm or heavy rain taking place during or after the installation, when your roof is exposed to the elements (such as after the tear off of the old roof), you will not be covered by any sort of liability insurance, which could cost you dearly should your house get flooded as a result of a careless or faulty installation.
Keep in mind that it’s not at all a given that your home insurance will cover any damages that may occur as a result of an improper installation by an unlicensed weekend warrior who does not pull a building permit for the job.
Note: Regardless of whether or not you ultimately hire a roofing pro (preferred method) or just a handyman/weekend warrior to re-roof your house, make sure that the installer pulls the building permit for the re-roofing project. If not, then you will need to apply for a building permit yourself, so that you are not fined by the local building department for doing remodeling work without the building permit.
Ideally, the building permit should be pulled by the installer and not the homeowner. The purpose of the building permit is to be in compliance with the local building department and to make sure that you will have a record (in addition to a signed contract) of the authorized roofing work taking place on your property.
A building permit and project inspection by the local home inspector from the building department will help ensure that the job was completed somewhat properly. Should there be any warranty needs down the line, having a signed contract with the workmanship warranty spelled out and the building permit on record, which required adherence to the local building codes by the installer, will help you with the warranty claims.
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4. Hiring a “regular roofer” to install a specialty system such as PVC, TPO or a metal roof. Consider a standing seam metal roof for a moment, chances are that your regular “shingles only” roofer is not properly equipped nor trained to do a specialized job, whether it be slate, tiles, cedar shakes, metal, PVC, TPO, or EPDM rubber.
There are many asphalt shingle roofers, but there are only so many properly trained and qualified installers specializing in other systems. Only hire a specialist if you want to avoid a disaster taking place on your roof!
5. Not doing your homework in terms of properly researching and vetting the company you hire. Have you checked their track record and how long have they been in business? Anything less than five years in the roofing business is incredibly risky, since the roofer may not be around to honor your warranty in a few years!
It’s best to hire a small local company with great track record, rather than a large company with numerous complaints.
6. Do not hire a large company that primarily uses sub-contractors, as this is a surefire way to get sub-standard work, unless of course, you have personally vetted the actual sub-contractor who will be working on your roof. — This does require asking a lot of questions on your part beforehand, and carefully researching/vetting both contractors for any type of serious consumer complaints that may be floating on various review sites.
7. Not meeting your foreman or project manager in person before agreeing to any work or signing a contract — you may want to meet the person who will be responsible for day to day work on your roof. When you do, try to get a good sense for how comfortable you are having this person handle your project. Do you have sufficient confidence in this person and their crew doing the right thing on your roof?
8. Not discussing the clean-up and landscaping protection requirements before the contract is signed — If you care about the cleanliness of your home, yard, and garden, then make sure the contractor understands fully that you have high expectations in terms of daily clean-up and removal of debris from your property, unless of course you don’t mind damaged plants/landscaping and a few nails in your tires. 😉
9. Not reading the contract before signing it — Make sure you understand the contract and warranty details — ask questions before you sign any document! You do not want to end up with a lien against your house, sub-standard warranty not worth the paper it’s written on, or any hidden/unforeseen charges during the job.
10. Not verifying the contractor’s liability and worker’s comp coverage. While most companies want to do a good job, sometimes unforeseen things inevitably happen on the job, meaning that there could be some unintentional damage caused to your property during the installation. For instance, your home may get flooded during the installation.
If your roofer does not have a valid liability insurance, you may find yourself in some rough waters should a serious damage to the property occur. — Aside from general liability insurance, you should also verify contractor’s worker’s compensation, if your state requires it. Most do. If the installed doesn’t have the worker’s compensation coverage, you may be held liable for any personal injury to installers occurring as a result of work on your property!
With all the great abundance of numerous contractor review sites such as Angie’s List and Yelp, it’s amazingly surprising to see there is no shortage of people who still end up hiring the wrong roofers, in-spite of all the reviews and publicly available information/data floating in the cyberspace! 😉
The bottom line is that if you want to have a pleasant experience as opposed to getting burned, then be a smart homeowner and do your homework! Only hire local contractors who objectively care more about their reputation and your satisfaction than anything else.
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3 thoughts on “Top 10 Ways Not to Hire a Roofer! What to Look for in a Roofing Contractor”
My husband and I bought an old fixer-upper home that needs to have a new roof installed soon. Your suggestion to meet project managers in person seems like a great way to find someone that’s both capable and personable. Thank you. Daphne.
These are some pretty valid points; after all, there’s a lot that you need to look out for to make sure that you’re not choosing a bad roofer. You always want to try and find a roofing company that emphasizes the importance of experience, skill, and safety. This is why it is a good idea to try and avoid and storm chasers or handy-man friends like the article suggests.
Thanks for pointing out that hiring someone who works without liability insurance could expose you to potential legal issues. I imagine that when working at a height, like you do on a roofing job, it would definitely be good to make sure that your contractor has proper insurance in place. It would also make sense to me to ask for references from past clients so you could see what sort of work they do.