Find a Roofer You Can Trust

9/1/2010

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Your home can take a serious beating when a big storm hits and finding a roofing contractor you can trust isn’t always easy. Storm chasers and other door-to-door salesmen often peddle dubious deals that can cost homeowners thousands of dollars and create serious headaches. The Better Business Bureau recommends doing your research to avoid getting ripped off by an untrustworthy roofer.

Every year, homeowners research the trustworthiness of roofing contractors with BBB more than 2 million times—more than any other industry. Unfortunately, last year alone, BBB received more than 7,600 complaints about roofers from unsatisfied customers.

“Hail and wind damage from violent storms has taken a toll on homes across the country this summer and the cost of repairs can be in tens of thousands of dollars,” said Alison Southwick, BBB spokesperson. “When you’re spending that kind of money, it’s worth it to take your time and find a roofer you can trust.”

One company receiving hundreds of complaints this summer is American Shingle & Siding Inc. The company has solicited homeowners—often door to door—across the South and Mid Atlantic.  A common sales tactic BBB has learned from complaints is to tell the homeowner that their roof is severely damaged—such as from hail—and that their insurance company will likely cover the cost. The homeowner is then required to sign a contract saying that they will hire American Shingle for the job.

Unhappy homeowners have complained that they signed over the check to American Shingle and the job was never completed, wasn’t completed on time or was poorly executed.  The company recently announced that it is going out of business, but BBB warns that the roofer and its suspect business model might resurface under a different name.

When looking for a roofer you can trust, BBB recommends that homeowners:

Start Your Search with BBB. In addition to having Reliability Reports on tens of thousands of contractors—good and bad—across the US, you can also rely on BBB’s Accredited Business Locator to find trustworthy roofers in your area.  BBB Accredited roofers have pledged to uphold BBB’s Standards for Trust and are contractually obligated to resolve all complaints filed with the BBB.

Vet the Contractor Carefully. Verify the business meets all state and local requirements including being licensed, insured and bonded. Also ask the business for references from recent jobs.  Confirm whether or not the roofer will be subcontracting the job or relying on his or her own employees.

Beware of Storm Chasers. In the wake of a storm, fly-by-night repair businesses will solicit work, often door to door, in unmarked trucks. They might require advance payment and make big promises that they won’t deliver on.

Get at least three bids. Beware of lowball estimates that may potentially balloon over time or foreshadow shoddy work to come.

Recognize the red flags. Beware of any contractor that uses high pressure sales tactics or requires full payment upfront. Also avoid contractors that require you to get the necessary permits. 

Make sure everything is in writing. Make sure that the full scope of the work is explained in the contract including cleanup and disposal of waste. All verbal agreements need to be included in the written agreement. Pay close attention to the payment terms, estimated price of materials and labor and any warranties or guarantees.

For more advice on hiring professionals you can trust, visit us online at http://www.bbb.org/us/consumer-tips-home/.

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