With close to one million roofs in Vancouver alone, it’s big business! And where there’s big business, there are scammers looking to take advantage of unsuspecting home owners. Before you know it, Wham, Bam, it’s a Scam! Keep reading below for ways to protect yourself and help ensure you hire the right contractor for your next roof project.
- THE VANISHING ACT: This magic act includes a shady contractor who will claim he or she needs money up-front to buy materials before any items are delivered or any tools are stored on-site. Be careful not to sign over insurance or settlement cheques to roofing contractors at the beginning of the project. Trustworthy, established contractors will invest their own money into your project at the beginning without asking for a large up-front sum.
- THE STORM CHASER: He or she will ring your doorbell in the aftermath of a destructive storm, when you’re still in shock and haven’t had the time to calmly assess the full extent of damage to your property. Roofing scammers have been known to offer free roof inspections, then fake wind and hail damage by tearing off shingles or using a ball-peen hammer to make round holes on your roof, providing you with dated photos as proof.
- THE HIGH PRESSURE SALESPERSON: He or she will keep telling you that you have to “Buy now to get the best price!” Deciding to get a new roof if a big financial decision that deserves proper research. Do this by researching the average cost of a new roof or roofing repairs by getting quotes from several different contractors. A reputable salesperson will not hesitate to hand over his or her business card and kindly ask to be considered for your next roof project.
- THE LOW-COST ESTIMATE: If a contractor puts in a bid that’s too good to be true, it’s probably a scam. Shady roofing contractors are infamous for not mentioning expensive materials up front, and then inflating their true price when it’s time to pay.
Education Equals Protection
Here are 9 ways to protect yourself from scammers:
- Get a business card and find out the location of the company’s physical office. If the company has a website, this information should be easily available.
- Find out how long the company has been in business – roofers who have been in the business for a long time are more experienced and aren’t looking to scam anyone. You can find this out by checking out their Better Business Bureau profile.
- Ask to see the company’s business license, worker’s compensation insurance, general liability insurance, and written manufacturer warranties. You want to make sure the company is fully licensed and insured. If a company won’t provide this to you quickly, consider it a red flag. It probably means that such documentation does not exist.
- Get a written estimate from each contractor you’re considering (be sure to ask if there’s a charge for the estimate beforehand) and ask for an explanation for any price discrepancies. Remember that cheaper estimates are not automatically the best option – there is a reason they’re cheaper.
- Get a written description of all work to be done, including which materials they will use and a timeline for completion.
- If you can, get references and talk to previous customers. The BBB is a great place to check reviews because the contractor cannot edit/eliminate any negative ones. Proper research should involve ignoring the content of the positive reviews while analyzing the reasons for the negative ones.
- Do not fall for high pressure sales techniques, such as a price estimate that is “only good for today”.
- Do not pay in advance. Most reputable roofers will not ask for more than a 1/3 deposit for work to be completed.
- Look the company up on the BBB website or contact the BBB to get a reliability report.