June 6, 2014
After the storm, out comes the scam
It’s as predictable as the weather: When the sun comes out after severe storms like we had this week, the scam artists also will be out knocking on doors, trying to get hired to repair your roof.
James Kirby, associate executive director of technical communications for the National Roofing Contractors Association, calls these people “storm chasers.” High winds or a hail storm move through an area, “and there are (roofers) that literally chase these storms. A lot of them are very good, they are reputable, and they can do very good work, but we hear quite af few stories from people about a roofer that came in, didn’t do a very good job and now a little while later they are having trouble and they tell us they don’t know how to find the person or the business,” he said on roofery.com.
Problems also arise when people take the lowest bid from a contractor without considering quality. “You need to look at the entirety of the offer and service,” Kirby said. “We get quite a few people that call saying they got a bad job and when we ask how many bids they received and which one they picked, invariably they say they took the low bid. Well, you get what you pay for – you pick the cheapest bid, you will likely get the cheapest materials and lower quality work because they are rushing.”
A low bid can also lead to a scam some call the “elevator ride.” This happens when a company presents a very low bid, but then finds “problems” after the project starts and increases the price.
To keep yourself safe from scam artists:
Determine if repairs are actually needed. AmeriSpec Omaha and Lincoln can perform a roof inspection to determine if your roof was damaged by a storm. You also can ask an insurance adjustor to check and see if a claim needs to be filed.
Investigate solicitations. If a contractor knocks on your door, the Better Business Bureau suggests that when you answer, check the person’s attire, and see if they drove up in a vehicle. It sounds strange, but often they will park up a block or two and work the neighborhood on foot. Also, ask for identification.
It’s OK to take a brochure or letter from the person, but then check out the company at bbb.org. You can also check the Nebraska Department of Labor Contractor Registration to see if they’re registered to work in Nebraska.
Check the company’s insurance coverage. If a roofing contractor does not have the appropriate insurance, including workman’s compensation, you could be held liable for any accidents that occur on your property, Kirby said.
Understand the work to be done. Celia Kuperszmid Lehrman, deputy home editor for Consumer Reports, advises homeowners to know what materials will be used, and whether special skills will be required to complete the job. Homeowners also should make sure the contractor doesn’t take shortcuts – such as adding a third layer of roofing over two existing layers.