If you have had hail damage, take your time in hiring a roofing contractor. Do your homework to get the best value for your money.
Putting a roof on your home is something that most of us only have to do once or twice in a lifetime. Most folks have little experience in roofing materials and hiring contractors, so it pays to take your time and do a little homework. The Better Business Bureau warns homeowners suffering damage from the hailstorms not to let disaster strike twice. It's an unfortunate truth that con men often breeze into town after a storm, along with many reputable contractors. The fly-by-night contractors clean out as many people as possible, then blow back out of town.
"Consumers should be wary of itinerant repairmen who come into the area. The Better Business Bureau knows from experience that in the wake of a storm fly by night operators often try to take money from victims, supposedly to buy home repair materials, then leave town, never to be seen again," said Steve Abel President of the Better Business Bureau. “Never pay for a job up front; never sign anything until you are ready to hire a contractor, read and get a copy of anything you do sign.
Unless you have a leak and need emergency repairs, take your time in hiring a roofing contractor. A little homework ahead of time, may translate into better roof-work, and a quality job at a better value for homeowners.
To find a reputable roofing contractor, the BBB urges homeowners to take the following precautions:
- If you don’t already have a trusted contractor you might obtain bids from several firms, making sure that the specifications of each bid are identical. Ask the contractor to quote you weight per square for composition shingles. This enables homeowners to judge the quality of the materials -- the heavier the weight per square, the higher the quality.
- Ask for a business card and the home headquarters location of the roofing company
- Obtain a reliability report on the firm by calling the Better Business Bureau at 325-691 1533 or look it up on the internet at www.bbb.org/abilene. You can search by company name, phone number or by address. To get an entire list, search by business classification and use “Roofing Contractors”. Find out how long the company has been in business - If the contractor was in business before the hail storm they likely will be in business after the storm is over
- In addition, make sure the company has a contractor registration and roofing bond on file with the City of Abilene you can contact them at 676-6270 or 676-6273. Require that they obtain a permit for your roof from the city and that it is part of the written estimate. Remember, a bond may protect you against substandard work that doesn't comply with building codes; however, it may not protect you if the contractor does not complete the job.
- If possible, ask for and check references. Try to talk to previous customers, and if possible, look at a similar job that has been completed recently and one that has been done for several years
- Ask if the contractor would be willing to submit a dispute concerning workmanship or service to a third party arbitration program, and get that commitment in writing.
- For a list of BBB Accredited Businesses that are pre-committed to making a good faith effort to resolve customer complaints click here or call 691-1533.
- Beware of fly by night repair businesses soliciting work in unmarked trucks and requiring advance payment, and do not succumb to high pressure techniques such as the price is "good only for today."
The BBB cautions that all contracts for home repairs should include;
- name, full physical address and phone number of the contractor;
- a written description of all the work to be done, including the quality of materials to be used. If the salesman is promising work to be done and it’s not on the written estimate, you write it on the contract and both parties initial any changes.
- a written statement reiterating any oral promises made by the contractor or sales representative, including any warranties on material or labor and statements regarding hand nailing of shingles, removal of old roof and disposal, clean up of nails and scrap materials
- a bid based on the job, not by the unit (hour, gallon, board, etc.)
- a price breakdown for both labor and materials;
- when payment is due for the job (beware of paying money in advance, payment based on the progress of the job is acceptable, however withhold final payment until you are satisfied with the job, and Building Inspection Department at the City has made a final inspection);
- start up and completion dates; and
- when the materials arrive at the work site, physically check the wrappers in the shingles and make sure what is quoted in the contract is what has arrived at your home, re weight per square
And lastly, Abel warns, never pay for all repairs in advance (the deposit should be no more than one third of the total contract price); and pay by check or credit card; make the check out to the company not the person; don't pay cash to a contractor or a sales person.
This information was provided by the Abilene Better Business Bureau - This report is provided by the Members of the Abilene Better Business Bureau (691-1533), www.abilene.bbb.org, who voluntarily support the BBB and its programs for consumers. Our members deserve your thanks and patronage.