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    7 Types Of Common Roofing Scams (And How To Avoid Them)

    Every storm season, year after year, homeowners fall prey to predatory con artists out there pulling roofing scams. These roofer con artists give the industry a bad name and their shenanigans schemes leave trusting families strapped for cash and stuck with a shoddy roof on their homes.

    Keep an eye out for these 4 types of common roofing scams that con artists will perform year after year.

    Who Do Scammers Target?

    Scammers often target middle-income budget-conscious homeowners trying to manage home repairs without breaking the bank. These con artists will seek out neighborhoods with a high percentage of senior citizens, areas in older neighborhoods, and places that are prone to, or were recently hit by, major storms.

    A roofing con artist will prey on people’s fears that their homes are in danger or that reputable home roofing companies are too expensive and with a few thousand dollars down payment they can have a whole new roof. The person takes the money and is never seen or heard from again.

    how to avoid roofing scams three constructions workers replacing an asphalt roof on a house

    1. Storm Chasing Roofing Scams (Going After the Low Hanging Fruit)

    Nervous homeowners can be easy pickings for opportunistic scammers after a damaging storm passes through an area. Some con artist roofers called “storm chasers” follow bad weather events in search of damaged roofs. They frequently travel door-to-door, passing out leaflets and offering to repair or replace roofs that look damaged or, in some instances, roofs that are not damaged at all.

    Part of the game a storm chasing con artist will play is to convince homeowners that they can get a new roof for a huge discount, or even free, by filing an insurance claim after a big storm. The roofer gets paid, the homeowner gets a new roof, even if it’s not needed, and the massive insurance company with billions of dollars cuts a check without batting an eyelash.

    Be careful of the work done by storm chasers as they are after the low-hanging fruit, so the workmanship is often of very poor quality. The storm chaser con artist hits a neighborhood hard with sales and wants to replace as many roofs as possible for as little cost as possible and then get the heck out of town. The lifespan of these rapidly constructed roofs may be half that of a well-constructed roof, or much less.

    How to Avoid Storm Chasers

    Keep a sharp eye out in your neighborhood after a roof damaging storm passes through. You may have a damaged leaky roof, but you don’t want to rush into anything until you know for sure it’s the real deal. Storm chasers will try to take advantage of your anxiety in the aftermath of a storm, insisting that work must be done quickly.

    Instead, try these tips:

    • Ask to see insurance and references in your area
    • Check the status of their roofer’s license
    • Visit online reference sites to look for complaints
    • Call a trusted local roofing company in your community

    Also, something to look out for with this type of roofing scam is a desperate storm chaser will show up at your door unannounced and mention that they’ve just finished repairing another roof nearby. This con artist will claim to have extra materials close by, and because of that convenience, they want to offer you a deep discount to do your roof. This is a classic scam! Chase that con artist storm chaser off your property with the cops or a broom if need be.

    2. A Low Starting Bid Could Be a Sign Of a Roofing Scam

    Let’s face it: a new roof is expensive no matter where you live. The material and labor costs don’t come cheap. Roofing is dangerous hard work and the material that is used for shingles is expensive stuff. So, if some contractor is offering you a tantalizingly low price, one that’s far lower than any other competitor in your area, something is not adding up right, and it’s a red flag.

    Almost always, once work begins, that price will magically start to creep up due to unforeseen this and unforeseen that. Problems magically appear and inflated material costs soon show up on the invoicing because they bought crap material but are charging you for the good stuff. And, granted, the costs of roofing materials do fluctuate, but a contractor shouldn’t attempt to increase the price for materials in the middle of your project. Another red flag.

    So, again make sure you do your research first. Get several quotes and if you decide to go with the low bid like most people do then research that roofing business. Make sure you talk to various companies about their pricing schemes. Discuss everything with your contractor beforehand and include any potential curveballs in your contract. Typically, a reputable roofing company will provide you with one price that includes labor and material. Make sure they stick to it and do exactly what they say they will.

    how to avoid roofing scams close up of hammer and roofing nails on asphalt shingles

    3. Many Roof Scams Start With Mystery Damage and Unexplainable Happenings

    Your roof seems like it’s in good shape, even after a big storm, and the roof is not even that old. Then, one day, out of the blue, you have a roofer knocking at your door, claiming he just couldn’t help but notice the damage on your roof that needs to be fixed right away to avoid bigger issues from happening during the next storm.

    This con artist is so glad that he just happened to be going by when he noticed the issues going on with your roof that if fixed right away will save you tons of money in the long run. This roofer points out some vague damage that you can’t really see but claims it is a big red flag. Maybe this roofer will even offer to take a closer look and sure enough, spends an hour on your roof using all his equipment then comes down, grim-faced, claiming it’s a real mess up there.

    Some shady roofers have been known to claim there is damage to a roof when there’s none, or not enough damage to warrant a full roof replacement. Others have even been caught generating damage themselves. These are the con artists that give home improvement companies such a bad name.

    When the Good Samaritan roofer who just so happens to be driving by and spots serious damage to your roof from a moving vehicle shows up at your door with a twinkle in their eye, tell them to check it out then tell them you are going to have several other companies also come and check it out. And watch them when they are on your roof— you don’t want them up there causing unnecessary HVAC issues.

    If you believe there is something to the claim, then get a second opinion. Under no conditions should you let a stranger on your roof or sign a contract based on an out-of-the-blue, high-pressure sales tactic.

    4. Insurance Fraud: A Classic Case of Trying to Get Someone Else to Pay

    There are various ways a roofing contractor can attempt to commit insurance fraud. One of the more common tactics employed by scam artists is submitting two separate invoices. So, the homeowner gets one invoice, the lower one, and a more sizable invoice is submitted to the insurance company.

    If a con artist roofing contractor deliberately deceives or exaggerates an estimate to cover the cost of the deductible, then that is considered insurance fraud. Knowingly falsifying an estimate to allow for an increase in carrier payouts is insurance fraud. There are substantial criminal penalties for this type of fraud and hurts all parties involved.

    Be very wary as all these types of scams are insurance fraud, and could be prosecuted, which means trouble for the homeowner. Sometimes, a roofing contractor will even claim that they’ll get enough money back from over-billing your insurance company to reimburse your deductible.

    Make sure you always listen carefully to what a roofer is offering. If a contractor offers to pay your insurance deductible or offers other no-cost incentives, like a free roof, these can be signs of fraud.

    5. High-Pressure Sales Tactics

    If a roofer is knocking on your door and urgently pushing a “today only” offer that sounds too good to be true, listen to your gut. They’re likely trying to pressure you into signing a legally-binding contract on the spot without allowing you to do any other research.

    A roofing scammer will make dramatic claims if you put up any resistance, so if something just doesn’t feel right, you’re probably dealing with someone dishonest. A trustworthy licensed contractor will never pressure you into a sale and will always understand if you want to take time to do your research and get quotes from other companies.

    how to avoid roofing scams frustrated homeowner examines bills

    6. Very Large Down Payment

    Most legitimate roofing companies will offer flexible financing options to buffer the cost of a new roof. A classic roofing scam occurs when a roofer demands an incredibly large down payment before even beginning work. They then take the lump sum of cash and bolt, never to be seen again.

    It’s normal for roofing companies to charge a down payment to cover the cost of materials. But typically, this payment is roughly 20% of the entire cost of the project. If a roofer on your doorstep is demanding a 50% or higher down payment, do not work with them whatsoever.

    7. Cheap Materials

    This final scam can be difficult to catch. Some roofing scammers will charge an exorbitant amount for their services but then use terrible, cheap materials so they can pocket the difference. Typically, these repairs or replacements look okay at first, but structural issues will show up quickly.

    They just mask the problem temporarily, don’t offer warranties, and bolt before your roof begins to leak. Even though this one is trickier to catch, thorough research can help. Read lots of reviews, ask what manufacturer the roofing company works with, and inquire about any warranties they offer.

    how to avoid roofing scams headshot of experienced contractor in safety gear

    Now That You’re Prepared— Know Who to Trust

    Remember roofing con artists can be very effective with their scams. They move fast, they look and sound very professional, their documents seem to be in order, and they hit an area very hard. That’s why it’s so important to find a roofer you can trust.

    You can use Directorii to get in touch with vetted, certified roofing contractors in your area. We’re so confident that you’ll have a great experience with these contractors that we’ve backed each one up with a $20,000 guarantee.

    how to avoid roofing scams happy homeowners look at their finished roofWell, those are my roofing scams to watch out for. Please comment below and let me know what you think. Have you been scammed by a roofing con artist, do you know of other scams that roofers employ? Let me know in the comments below.

    Also, if you want to learn more about the roofing industry sign up for one of my great roofing business classes. Thank you so much for reading.

    Dmitry Lipinskiy
    Host of Roofing Insights YouTube channel, Founder of Roofing Business School

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    1. It’s great that you described the importance of catching a roofing scam before you end up paying thousands for a lousy job with poor-quality materials. Next week, my parents want to speak with roofing contractors to help repair their roofs, so I’ll email your tips right now. Thanks for the advice on reading reviews before hiring a roofing contractor.

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