We have all heard the horror stories. Roofs left unfinished, leaking shoddy work and more sinister stories of pensioners being strong-armed down to the bank in order to pay extortionate roofing bills.
In the United Kingdom a frail pensioner was frightened into parting with his life savings for changing a few roofing tiles. In another case, instead of the promised new roof, the roof was simply painted over with green masonry paint. The same so called roofer conned a ninety one year old woman out of twenty thousand pounds for a repair that should have cost 800. So how can we protect ourselves against these unscrupulous rogues?
Rouge roofers come in all shapes and sizes. Some employ slick salesmen that offer the appearance of respectability, while others look like they have just finished a 10 stretch at the local penitentiary. One thing they all have in common is the desire separate you from your cash with as little in return as possible.
While the work is shoddy the sales pitch is not. The crooks follow a well rehearsed script to entice unsuspecting homeowners into parting with their money. Lets have a look at four kinds of roofer you should avoid.
- Door knockers
A common ploy is to knock on the door announcing that they are working locally and just happened to notice the damage you have on your roof. Loose tiles and shingles are a usual target. They may even quote you a reasonable price to put things right. Once work has commenced you will be informed that there are major defects with your roof that need urgent attention. At this point, part of the roof will have been removed leaving the homeowner feeling vulnerable and more likely to agree to have the work done.
- Stand and deliver
This gang will also quote you a good price but they need the money upfront for “materials”. Unfortunately, once you have parted with your cash that’s the last you see of them. Most good roofing contractors do not require payment in advance.
- Bodge it and Run Ltd
These people rely on the fact that most people don’t climb up on the roof to check their work. They probably will stop your leak, for a little while. Tools of their trade are flash band, bitumen and mastic cement. These are temporary fixes that will deteriorate quickly. Make sure you ask for a written guarantee that includes workmanship and materials.
- D.I.Y disasters
This is a separate category. All the con men dealt with so far are clearly criminals. Do it yourself roofers usually start with good intentions. They probably watched someone change a roofing tile in 1964 and are convinced they are up to doing your roof for you. Unfortunately they soon get out of their depth causing more problems than they solve. Save him the embarrassment and yourself the inconvenience by hiring a roofing contractor with a good reputation.
Stop the crooks.
Be very wary of anyone that calls on speck offering to fix your roof. Reputable roofing companies don’t need to desperately trawl the neighbourhood looking for work. Say thanks but no thanks and close the door on them.
Now get the names of some creditable roofing contractors. There are more good ones than bad. You can find good roofing contractors by using trade organisations or best of all referrals from previous customers. You can check with your local authority to see if the company is licensed.
Get at least 3 estimates in writing. This will give you an idea of what your roof repair should cost. Ask for references and referrals and don’t be shy, follow them up.
Once you’re happy with your roofing contractor, get a contract outlying the work you want done with payment terms and a completion date.
The majority of roofing contractors are honest and offer excellent quality work. By following the steps outlined above you will avoid the cowboys.