70,000 people checked with BBB for roofing contractors; avoid a roofing nightmare with BBB advice

May 20, 2015

Buffalo, NY--It is the time of year when many homeowners realize this is the year their roof needs to be repaired or completely replaced. People turned to Better Business Bureau of Upstate New York over 70,000 times the past 12 months to check out roofing contractors, an industry that ranked fourth with BBB for most inquired about industries last year.

“Hiring a trustworthy roofer shouldn’t cause anyone a headache, yet BBB hears about roofing troubles every year,” said Warren Clark, president of BBB of Upstate New York. “Broken promises after payment, contract and repair issues lead complaints filed with our office. With thousands of dollars often at stake it’s imperative to start with trust in your search for a roofing contractor.”

BBB’s roofing stats:

  • Complaints last 12 months: 147
  • Inquiries last 12 months: 70,886 up 22% from previous year
  • Roofing was fourth most inquired about industry in 2014

Many factors can affect roof performance, including: sun, rain, snow and ice. After the winter Upstate New York just endured, there’s no doubt a lot of roofs took a beating. To help keep your roof in good shape, you should perform a visual inspection of your roofing system each spring. 

What to look for:
-Curling, buckling or blistering shingles
-Excessive amounts of shingle granules in the gutters
-Blocked vents or improper ventilation
-Loose material or wear around chimneys, pipes and other penetrations
-Drooping or sagging in the overall roof structure. 

If you notice any of these problems, you should contact a roofing contractor for further inspection. Often, a contractor can make repairs without having to replace the entire roof. However, they may recommend replacing your existing roof if it is more than 20 years old or shows significant damage.

Not all roofing contractors are on the up and up. BBB receives information from businesses and consumers-usually around this time of year-about phony contractors who send out mailings or go door to door. These “contractors” offer individuals and businesses a price that sounds too good to be true and want to do the job immediately. They use substandard materials and perform shoddy workmanship. In many cases, people don't realize they've been burned until after heavy rains cause the roof to leak resulting in damage. When the company calls the contractor for repairs, the phone number has been disconnected and they are nowhere to be found. 

Signs of a bad contractor:

  • A stranger who shows up on your doorstep or calls you with these lines: "I can give you a great price because I have leftover materials from another job" or "I just happen to be working in the area..." 
  • A vehicle with out-of-state license plates 
  • An overly-aggressive sales pitch and a request to begin work immediately 
  • Demand for immediate payment, often in cash 
  • No written contract offered. The contract should contain the three-day cooling off period required by law. 
  • Inability or reluctance to supply customer references. 
  • The only business address and telephone number is a rented mail drop or an answering service. 
  • Failure to show proof of insurance (a certificate of insurance) when requested. 

BBB offers the following advice before hiring a roofing contractor:  

Check out any roofing company at bbb.org.
You can click here to find a list of BBB Accredited roofers in your area who are required to uphold our Standards for Trust.

Roofers often require licensing. To make certain your roofer is licensed inyour area you can call your County Clerk’s office for more information or contact NYS Department of Labor.

Beware of unsolicited offers. Be particularly cautious of individuals who show up at your doorsteps unannounced or contact you through telemarketing. Avoid contractors who demand payment in cash or want full payment up front, before work has begun.

Get at least three bids. Keep in mind the lowest bid may not be the best fit for your long-term needs; if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. 

Check out the company online. Become your own investigator and Google the company and contractor name to confirm a good reputation. Make sure the company has a permanent place of business, telephone number and tax identification number. Also check the company's BBB Business Review or check it out with other organizations such as the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA). 

Ask to see copies of the company's liability and workers' compensation insurance certificates, and make certain they remain in effect throughout the duration of the job. If a contractor is not properly insured, you may be liable for any accidents that occur on your property. 

Request references from the company. Hiring the first contractor you come across is not a good idea. Shop around. Get recommendations from people you know: your friends, neighbors and colleagues. Obtain local references from the contractor, and call them to check if they were satisfied with the work. 

Don't pay cash or for the entire job in advance. Work out the down payment with the contractor including payment for materials. Know in advance payment expectations and have the final payment ready when the job is completed. 

Get everything in writing. Obtain a detailed, written proposal and make sure it states complete descriptions of the work, specifications, and materials to be used, and includes any verbal agreements, approximate starting and completion dates and payment procedures. 

Carefully read and understand your contract and any roofing warranties provided. Make sure you understand the terms and conditions under which the warranty may be voided.

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