Hiring a roofing contractor after storm damage

The Better Business Bureau reminds those who experience storm and hail damage to take certain precautions when hiring a roofer.

Natural disasters such as tornadoes, hurricanes and floods can bring out the best in people as strangers help others in need. Unfortunately, crises also bring up individuals who choose to take advantage of the victims.

Some of the most common post-disaster scams involve roof damage. BBB offers the following tips to homeowners who suffer roof damage after a natural disaster:

Check with your insurance company about policy coverage and specific submission requirements. Keep all receipts if temporary roof repairs are needed.

Even though you may be keen to get things back to normal, don’t let your emotions get the better of you. Don’t be pressured to make an immediate decision with long-term impact. Be proactive in selecting a business and do not respond to sales requests.

For major repairs, take the time to shop around and get three or four estimates based on the same specifications and materials. View references that are at least a year old, check that all licensing requirements are up to date, and check if a license is required.

Beware of door-to-door workers who claim to have scraps of material from a job “down the street” or who don’t have a fixed workplace. If salespeople go door to door, check to see if your community requires them to have a recruiting permit.

Be wary if an employee shows up on your doorstep to announce that your home is unsafe. If you are concerned about possible structural damage in your home, have it inspected by an engineer, architect or construction official. While most roofers obey the law, make sure someone you don’t know inspects your roof. An unethical contractor can even do damage to get work.

Get it in writing

Require a written contract agreement with everyone you hire. Make sure their name, address, license number (if applicable) and phone number are included in the contract. Read and understand the contract in its entirety, and do not sign a blank contract. When signing, you should receive a copy of the signed contract.

Clearly written proposals that are detailed and broken down into individual lines are a good sign that the contractor is thorough and has made an accurate estimate. The following is a partial list of items that your estimate or proposal should include:

  • the type of roof covering, manufacturer and color
  • materials to be included in the work
  • scope of the work to be performed
  • removal or replacement of existing roof
  • flashing work – e.g. existing cover plates to be replaced or reused, adding new flashing flashing metal types
  • ventilation work, eg adding new ventilation openings
  • estimated start and end dates
  • payment procedures
  • length of warranty and what is covered – eg workmanship, water leakage

Installation method

Who is responsible for repairing / replacing exterior, landscape or interior finishes that have been damaged during the work? Make sure that the language states who is responsible for any damage that occurs as a result of the work. All concerns and work to be done must be included in the contract.

Who removes the old roofing materials and / or project waste (eg Extra materials, packaging, etc.)? Are there any additional costs associated with this service?

take your time

If one estimate seems much lower than another and it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. The below-cost bids of many fly-by-night contractors seem attractive, but these contractors are often uninsured and perform substandard work or use substandard materials. Make sure to read the fine print. Some contracts use a clause requiring significant cancellation fees or liquidation damages if the homeowner decides not to use the contractor after insurance approval of the claim. In some cases, you may be required to pay the full agreed upon price if the homeowner cancels after the cancellation period. If an estimate or contract is confusing, ask the contractor to break it down into items / terms you can understand.

Storm chasing has become a multimillion-dollar industry complete with automated hail forecasting, teams of third-party installers, and trained salespeople looking for work door-to-door.

Disaster victims should never feel compelled to make a hasty decision or choose an unfamiliar contractor. Start with confidence. For reliable information, lists of BBB accredited companies by industry, and BBB business reviews on local businesses, visit www.bbb.org or call () 800) 763-4222.

Kelvin Collins is president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau and operates the Fall Line Corridor, which spans the Augusta-Aiken metro area. Please direct questions or complaints about a specific company or charity to (800) 763-4222 or [email protected]

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