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Roof Rip-off: Beware of Scams and Shoddy Contractors

roof rip offs, austin txHiring a roofing contractor to work on your home can be daunting. Unlike a grocery store, dentist, boutique or coffee shop, the contractor comes to the customer to conduct the “transaction.” Most customers never visit a contractor’s office — unless there is a problem, in which case they may discover (much to their chagrin) that they have been victimized by a disreputable contractor. Fortunately, there are ways to protect yourself when hiring a roofing contractor.

1. Watch out for storm chasers.

If you have lived in Central Texas for very long, you know that damaging hail and high winds happen more often than most homeowners would prefer. Whenever a storm causes widespread damage, you can be sure that out-of-town or even out-of-state “roofers” will swarm to the area. Many of these storm chasers are not licensed or insured in their home area, much less in another state. Their contact number may be a prepaid cell phone that will be discarded when they move to the next area, and their physical address could be a relative’s home or completely fictitious. In other words, if there is ever a problem with your roof, you have little chance of finding these people again — assuming they actually complete the job, rather than just taking your deposit and moving on.

2. Get bids from more than one contractor, but make sure that each is quoting the same products and services.

For example, Contractor A might be quoting 25-year shingles with the customer responsible for paying the disposal fee for the old shingles. Contractor B’s quote might be for 30-year shingles with the contractor responsible for all fees related to the disposal of the old shingles. Because all contractors pay roughly the same for materials and labor, quotes for identical work will likely be very similar. If one contractor quotes a price that is ridiculously lower than the others, it should be a red flag that something is amiss.

3. Perform your “due diligence” before signing a contract.

Ask for recent references and contact them; inquire whether the job was completed on time and for the price quoted as well as whether the work area was left clean and whether your property incurred any damage. Ask whether former customers were happy with the work performed and have remained satisfied. Do not limit yourself to just former customers, however. Check the company’s Better Business Bureau rating and review posts about the company on social media sites or in forums. Contact suppliers and ask what they can tell you about each roofer you are considering. Your state’s consumer affairs office or licensing bureau may be able to give you information on unresolved complaints, while the secretary of state might have information on how long the company has been in business under its current name. Ask contractors for proof of liability and workers’ compensation insurance.

4. Get everything in writing — and make sure that the written words match the verbal promises.

In other words, if the contractor tells you that the price includes new underlayment, make sure it is listed in the quote details. If the contractor tells you that he and his crew will work weekends or holidays if necessary to complete your job on time at no additional cost to you, get it in writing. Make sure that you get a legible copy of everything you sign, and make sure that the contractor has also signed your copies.

For many people, having a new roof installed is something they experience only two or three times during their lives. Products, methods and technologies may have changed since your last roof. A reputable roofer will be happy to answer any questions you might have, so do not hesitate to ask.

Alpha Roofing has been serving Central Texas customers with a wide range of roofing services with over 35 years of experience. We have highly trained and experienced crews who are committed to offering superior work at competitive prices. In addition to roofing, we also offer siding, chimney repairs and skylight installation. Submit our online form to request a free quote, or call 512-777-1086 to discuss your project.