Roofing Contractor Scams

How to Hire a Reputable Roofer

Consumers check out roofers with the BBB more than any other type of business. Roofers have topped the BBB’s list of most-inquired about business categories for the last several years in a row, and the number has dramatically increased each year since 2009.

In 2008, 17,435 BBB Business Reviews were requested on roofers and in 2009 that number jumped to more than 77,000. Last year, almost 150,000 requests were made for information on roofers. Why have so many more consumers been checking up on roofing contractors?

One reason for the increase is damaging weather. Colorado’s Front Range is located in the heart of “Hail Alley” and historic storms hit the area in 2008 and 2009. Since then, roofers from all over the country have swarmed Colorado to repair damaged roofs – or take advantage of homeowners.

Some contractors aren’t even roofers at all; they are scam artists who go from town-to-town, door-to-door, taking money for work and underperforming or not performing at all, then moving onto the next area before the homeowner can get their money back. These fraudsters are known as “storm chasers.”

Some of the most problematic situations our office has heard about in recent years involve misleading and unethical contracts and money paid for services not rendered.

Consumers have reported to BBB heartbreaking stories of paying large sums of money upfront to get a roofing job started, only to receive nothing in return. The scenario usually goes like this: a storm chaser knocks on someone’s door shortly following a hailstorm and pressures them into signing a contract. The contract requires a large upfront fee – if not the homeowner’s entire insurance check – to be paid before work begins. The check is cashed immediately and the roofer never shows up and does not respond to voice mails or emails.

Roofers are now required to hold any payments made until materials have been delivered to the residence or the majority of the work has been completed. In other words, they cannot process your payment until they’ve provided materials or service in return. Roofers are not only required to abide by this requirement, they must include it, in bold-face type, on the front of their contracts.

A 72-hour right to rescind is also now in place.  If a consumer signs a contract but then has their claim denied by their insurer, they have the right to inform the contractor within 72 hours (of being notified of the denial) and the contractor must provide a refund of any money paid within ten days. This also must be made clear in the company’s contract.

What about ads for a “free roof” or offers to have your deductible rebated to you? Contractors usually explain that the roof ends up being “free” because they compensate you in some way for your out-of-pocket expense which is your insurance deductible. The BBB has concerns with this kind of practice because it may involve misleading and exorbitant pricing in services and materials. New regulations should help prevent this practice and the advertising that goes along with it. Contractors can no longer pay, waive, or rebate the amount of the deductible or offer to do so. This also must be explained in a roofer’s contract.

If your roof has damage from past storms or incurs damage from this summer’s weather, follow these tips:

  • Get at least three estimates. Contact the BBB and use our free Request-a-Quote service to get bids from BBB Accredited roofers. Visit www.bbb.org.
  • Know that anything you sign--no matter what you are told--can be considered a binding contract so read very carefully before signing anything.
  • Get everything in writing. Cost, work to be done, time schedule, guarantees, payment schedule and other expectations should be detailed.
  • Ask for references and check them out.
  • Ask to see the salesperson's driver's license and write down the license number. Also, take down the license plate number from the vehicle they are using.
  • Never sign a contract with blanks. Unscrupulous contractors may enter unacceptable terms later.
  • Never pay a contractor in full or sign a completion certificate until the work is truly completed. Do not give a down payment unless special materials are being ordered, and even then you may consider writing the check directly to the roofer's supplier.
  • Insurance coverage may be rendered void if intentional misrepresentation by a policyholder is discovered.
  • A catastrophe greatly magnifies the opportunity for insurance fraud and abuse. Don't be tempted to conspire in an insurance claim. Insurance fraud is a felony.
  • Beware of warranties offered from companies that are based out of state; question how the services will be honored.
  • Find out if the company uses their own workers or if they hire individual, third-party sub-contractors. It is very important to know exactly who will be working on your roof and who is responsible if something goes wrong.
  • Verify applicable licensing and permits with your city and county. Do not secure the permit on your own, and make sure the permit is posted before the work begins. 
  • Check out the company with the Colorado Secretary of State. This will tell you if they are registered with the state and when they were incorporated. This ensures that the company has a presence in Colorado.

Written By: Megan Herrera, Public Relations Specialist, Better Business Bureau Serving Denver/Boulder

Identity Theft

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