The Better Business Bureau is reminding those suffering storm and hail damage to take certain precautions when hiring a roofer.
Natural disasters like tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods can get the most out of people as strangers scramble to help others in need. Unfortunately, crises also produce people who choose to take advantage of the victims.
Some of the most common post-disaster fraud cases involve roof damage. BBB offers the following tips to homeowners who suffer roof damage after a natural disaster:
Check with your insurance company for coverage and specific filing requirements. Retain all receipts in the event that temporary roof repairs are required.
While you may be anxious to get things back to normal, avoid letting your emotions overwhelm you. Don’t be pressured into making an immediate decision with long-term effects. Be proactive in choosing a company and don’t respond to sales inquiries.
For major repairs, take the time to shop around and get three or four estimates based on the same specifications and materials. Check references that are at least a year old, check that all license requirements are up to date, and see if approval is required.
Be wary of door-to-door workers who claim to have scraps of material from a job “on the street” or who do not have a permanent place of business. If sellers go door-to-door, see if your community requires them to get marketing authorization.
Be suspicious if a worker shows up on your doorstep and tells you that your home is unsafe. If you are concerned about possible structural damage to your home, have it checked out by an engineer, architect, or construction officer. While most roofers will obey the law, make sure someone you don’t know will inspect your roof. An unethical contractor can actually do harm to get work.
Get it in writing
Obtain a written contractual agreement with anyone you hire. Make sure your 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. A copy of the signed contract must be given to you at the time of signing.
Clearly written proposals that are detailed and divided into separate headings are a good sign that the contractor is thorough and has made an accurate estimate. The following is a non-exhaustive list of items your estimate or suggestion should include:
- Type of roofing, manufacturer and color
- Materials to be included in the work
- Scope of work to be done
- Removing or replacing the existing roof
- Flashing work – e.g. B. Existing lightning bolts to be replaced or reused, adding a new flashing, flashing metal type
- Ventilation work, e.g. B. Adding new vents
- approximate start and completion dates
- Payment method
- Guarantee period and what is covered – e.g. processing, water leakage
Who is responsible for the repair / replacement of exterior or interior fittings that have been damaged in the course of the work? Make sure it includes a language address responsible for any damage caused by the work. All concerns and work to be done should be included in the contract.
Who will take away the old roofing materials and / or project waste (e.g. additional materials, packaging, etc.)? Is there an extra charge for this service?
take your time
If one guess seems much lower than the others and it sounds too good to be true, it likely is. The deals from many contractors who fly at night seem attractive, but these contractors are often uninsured and perform substandard work or use substandard materials. Be sure to read the fine print. Some contracts use a clause requiring substantial cancellation fees or liquidation damage if the homeowner decides not to use the contractor after the claim is approved by the insurance company. In some cases, if the homeowner cancels after the cancellation deadline, you may have to pay the full agreed price. If a quote or contract is confusing, ask the contractor to break it down into understandable items / terms.
Storm chasing has grown into a multi-million dollar industry that includes computerized hail forecasting, teams of out-of-state installers, and trained salespeople advertising door-to-door.
Disaster victims should never feel compelled to make a hasty decision or choose an unknown contractor. Start with confidence. For reliable information, lists of BBB accredited companies by industry and BBB business reviews of local companies, visit www.bbb.org or call () 800) 763-4222.
Kelvin Collins is President and CEO of the Better Business Bureau and serves the Fall Line Corridor, which also includes the Augusta-Aiken metro area. Direct questions or complaints about a specific company or charity at (800) 763-4222 at [email protected]