December 2016

How To Avoid A Roofing Scam

roofing scamsRoofing Contractor Scams and How To Avoid Them

Contractor scams are common, and roofing scams are often easier to pull off on unsuspecting homeowners.  With roofs being high and sometimes out of sight from the ground, it is easier to not complete work as promised by the roofer, because the homeowner will never see it.  Storm damage, which often requires rapid action by a homeowner to prevent further interior damage, often causes a frantic homeowner to make unwise decisions when choosing a contractor.

Here are a few different types of roofers who take advantage of homeowners, and how to prevent yourself from being ripped-off.

Fake Roofer

A fake roofer is not a roofer at all.  He is the ultimate scammer.  He poses as a roofer, but most likely has no roofing experience.  He will go door-to-door claiming he is working in the area and sees roof damage on your home.  He will offer a reduced repair rate, and try to get a downpayment (usually cash), promising to come back and do the work.  He may have fake credentials- or even use another roofer’s information in order to look legitimate.

Incompetent Roofer

This type of roofer isn’t necessarily trying to scam- he may be just a bad at business management and/or have poor roofing skills.  He may misrepresent his skills.  He may “talk big” about his experience, but in reality, he doesn’t know much about proper roof maintenance, repairs, or replacement at all.  The homeowner thinks they are getting a qualified roofer to fix a roof leak, but is “scammed” because the roof is not professionally repaired.

An incompetent roofer may possibly be doing roofing as a side business, and may not even be insured.  The incompetent roofer may possibly have personal debt.  He will sign up many jobs and use the downpayments to pay off previous debts.  He will then not be able to complete the work because of lack of funds.

Dishonest Roofer

A dishonest roofer will lie about the true condition of your roof.   He may not do the work as specified in the contract.  A dishonest roofer may substitute cheaper materials than specified in the contract.  A dishonest roofer may actually intentionally cause additional damage to your roof in order to get more work.  Typically, a dishonest roofer will over-promise and under-deliver.

Another type of dishonest roofer can often be a storm chaser.  A storm chaser is a roofer who uses the opportunity of storm damage to gain business.  A storm chaser will quickly canvass a neighborhood after a storm, looking for work.  Not all storm chasers are dishonest.  Many storm chasers are qualified, legitimate roofing companies, who work with insurance agencies.  They are aggressive because they are just trying to stay ahead of the roofing competition in the area.  On the other hand, some storm chasing roofers are only looking for a quick buck.  Some storm chasers may not be properly licensed, insured, or experienced.  A storm chaser may claim to be connected to an insurance company and try to get a downpayment, while promising that the homeowner will get paid back by the insurance company.  They may promise that you will pay nothing for your roof, and not even have to pay for the deductible.  They may do inferior work, or simply take the money and not do the work at all.  Some storm chasers may not be roofers at all, but may only be collecting jobs and passing them on to legitimate roofers for a finder’s fee.

How to minimize the chances of being ripped-off by a roofing scam

These tips won’t guarantee that you won’t be taken by a dishonest roofer, but may help minimize your chances of losing money to a roofing scam.

1.  Don’t be pressured to make an immediate decision.

Don’t be intimidated by a high-pressure sales pitch or a “special one-day only deal”.  Door-to-door sales is a legitimate method of advertising, but be wary of a roofer who comes to your door unsolicited, claiming you have roof damage that needs to be corrected immediately, or offering special cash-only deals.

A major roof leak or storm damage can cause panic, but don’t make a split-second decision due to your own desperation.

2.  Find out if they are a legitimate and legal business.

Not all roofers advertise on the internet, but most do.  Even roofers who don’t have a website will most likely have a Google business listing, or be listed somewhere on social media, or in an online directory, unless their business is brand new.  Many states have some form of contractor licensing or registration. Many states also require liability insurance. Ask for the roofing company’s credentials and verify with the proper agency.

3.  Check referrals.

Ask neighbors and friends who they recommend as a roofer.  If you feel unsure about a roofer, ask for a few referrals from your neighborhood.  Follow up on the referrals.  Check online for any negative reviews.  Keep in mind that not all negative reviews are legitimate, just as all positive reviews may not necessarily be legitimate.

4.  Get several estimates.

Don’t just rely on one estimate if you are unsure.  Get at least 2 or 3 estimates.  Don’t judge on price alone.

5.  Read the contract.

Make sure you are comfortable with the terms of the contract.  Ask for a warranty if the roofer hasn’t offered one.

6.  Only give a downpayment to a contractor you fully trust.  Don’t pay in full until the job is completed.

A partial downpayment for a larger job is not unreasonable.  One-third of the total amount is a common downpayment request.  This often gives a contractor reassurance that he won’t get scammed by the homeowner, and often provides funds to purchase materials.  If you feel uneasy about a contractor, don’t give him a dime.  Don’t provide full payment until you are satisfied the work is completed as specified in the contract.


When To Replace Your Slate Roof

How To Know When To Replace Your Slate Roof

A natural stone slate roof can be a long-lasting, aesthetically-pleasing feature of any home.   A slate roof can generally last at least 80 to 100 years, with many lasting much more than that.  There are a number of factors that will extend or limit the lifespan of a slate roof.  The type of slate, the quality of the slate, roof pitch, and weather conditions are some factors that can affect how long a slate roof will last.  These factors also may affect how much maintenance a slate roof will require.

A big question homeowners with slate roofs often have is if their slate roof should continue to be repaired, or be replaced.  Roofers will argue about when a slate roof has come to the end of its life.  Roofing contractors that specialize in asphalt shingles may be more prone to recommend a roof replacement sooner than necessary in order to get a roof job.  Home inspectors may also not be able to give a proper analysis about the true condition of a slate roof.  Inspectors tend to lean toward the negative when assessing a slate roof.  It is important to get an assessment from a qualified slate specialist to more accurately determine the condition of a slate roof.

Here are three basic ways to help in determining the condition of your slate roof, and to help decide if your slate roof needs to be replaced.

Are the rows straight?

Uneven, wavy rows, or a large amount of sliding slates usually show that the nails are failing.  This is generally an indication that steel nails were used.  Over time, the steel nails will rust and eventually break, allowing slates to become dislodged.  A slate roof in this condition can be possibly maintained, but there may be a tipping point when the amount of slates sliding doesn’t warrant repairs any longer.

Do you have excessive flaking and/or broken slates?

Slates can flake for quite a while without causing problems.  At a certain point, the slate will become too thin, and will either be porous, or easily break in poor weather conditions.

If you have many slates breaking at diagonal angles, you probably have “ribbon” slates.  These are a lower quality slate that have a “ribbon” mineral inclusion that weakens the slate.  These types of slate can often be spotted from the ground.  A ribbon slate roof is not necessarily a bad thing as the quality of some ribbon slates is better than others.  At a certain point in the life of a ribbon slate roof, the slates may start to break at a faster than normal rate.  This may be the time to consider replacement.

When to replace a slate roof

What are your maintenance costs from year to year?

Depending on the size of your roof, location, weather, trees, roof age, and other factors, you may be spending hundreds or thousands of dollars yearly or every other year in slate roof maintenance.  Several hundred dollars a year to maintain an older slate roof is to be expected.  When that number jumps to over a thousand dollars every year, you may need to consider the costs for continued repair versus the cost for replacement.

Slate can be quite expensive compared to shingles, although a new slate roof will last much longer, and be more aesthetically pleasing, and complement a historical home much better than shingles.  If you wish to keep slate on your roof, but the high replacement costs are a factor, one cost-effective option may be to replace a failing slate roof in phases.  Concentrate on the worst side first.  Replace other areas as the budget allows.

Looking for a trusted slate roofing contractor?  CONTACT US!