12 Roofing Scams and How to Avoid Them

Jenna Jonaitis
Written by Jenna Jonaitis
Updated October 29, 2021
Men working on roof of a home
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Whether your roof is at the end of its life, it’s damaged, or there’s been a storm in your area, it might be time for roof repair or a replacement. While most roofers are hardworking contractors, there are some roof scams to be aware of. By knowing what to watch out for and how to vet a local roofer, you can ensure your project is successful—all while dodging the 12 most common roofing scams.

1. Storm Chasers

Some roofing contractors chase storms, meaning they follow severe weather and go to those areas hoping to drum up business. Sometimes referred to as “storm chasers,” they often approach homeowners and say they’ve noticed roof damage or even offer a free roof inspection. They might claim they're working on another roof in your neighborhood. Often, these storm chasers collect a down payment or do less than quality work, and then skip town before completing the job.

Any roofer that approaches you as a door-to-door salesperson should be vetted with caution. Successful roofing contractors typically don't need to be knocking on homeowners' doors. Regardless, your first call after a storm should be to file an insurance claim to your insurance company. An adjuster will inspect the damage and tell you what they will cover. Then, you can find a trustworthy contractor to do the job.

2. Extremely Low Bid

Any contractor who gives you a project estimate that's much lower than other contractors is most likely too good to be true. Usually, a contractor who bids very low at the start raises the price as the project goes on.

It’s wise to get at least three bids on your roofing project to compare prices, and you should talk with each roofer to find out what they plan to fix or replace. To protect yourself from overpaying, you should have a contract that outlines any possible price changes in advance, as well as the terms for doing so.

3. Mysterious or Exaggerated Damage

If a contractor exaggerates the damage or can’t pinpoint what the damage is, your roof might not need the work they're saying it does. Some roofers are even known to harm the roof during a free inspection to rack up a higher bill.

Before hiring a roofer, check online reviews to assess the legitimacy of the business. Once a roof inspection is complete, get clear guidance on what the damage is, how it occurred, and the steps to fix it. Be sure to always get at least one more professional opinion before locking in a contractor.

4. They Ask the Homeowner to Get the Permits

A contractor should always handle securing any necessary permits for the project. If a roofer requests that you pull the roofing permits, it may indicate that they aren't eligible to get a permit or have worn out their welcome at the permit office.

5. Discounted Materials

In some cases, a contractor might offer you a price break to use “leftover” or discounted materials. These so-called “special deals” rarely lead to a durable roof that will last for decades. Instead, get quotes and project details from at least three different roofers and take time to research the materials they'll use to repair your roof.

6. No Contract

If a roofer wants to proceed with your roofing repair without a contract, find a different contractor. A contract helps ensure you are protected from price increases and no-show jobs. It's an agreement that outlines the full scope of work and payment terms.

7. No Insurance or License

Not all states require roofers to have a license, so it’s essential to research whether your state does. If so, ask for proof of that license along with the contractor’s liability insurance. A contractor without the proper license or insurance is a contractor you want to avoid hiring.

8. High-Pressure or Time-Sensitive Sales

Any contractor—a roofer or otherwise—who pressures you to sign a letter of intent or contract should be met with some skepticism, although there are exceptions. Prices of materials can fluctuate or only be available for a limited time (such as a few days), especially after a national economic shift. But you should still get other estimates before signing any type of binding agreement. It’s important to feel confident in both your contractor and price before locking in.

9. Large Down Payment

A contractor who requests a large down payment might be scamming you. It could be a sign that they plan to take your money and run. Instead, look for a contractor who asks for a reasonable down payment and outlines further payment terms in a contract. A reasonable down payment is typically 15% or less of the total project price.

10. No Online Presence or Reviews

You should be able to easily find information online about your roofing contractor, such as reviews from other homeowners and the company’s location. Check to see if other homeowners have filed complaints against them with the Better Business Bureau.

11. Insurance Fraud

If a roofer wants you to sign over an insurance check or offers to pay your insurance deductible, they might be trying to commit insurance fraud. Even if a roofer says they’ll charge you less for the project, it’s not a deal worth taking. They could take the larger payment from the insurance company and pocket the extra funds, which is insurance fraud.

If a contractor wants you to sign an Assignment of Benefits (AoB) from the start, that’s also a red flag. An AoB gives a contractor permission to work on your behalf when filing an insurance claim, which may provide them access to committing insurance fraud.

To avoid insurance fraud, stay in close contact with your insurance company from start to finish, so you know what’s being covered and how much your contractor is being paid.

12. Asks to Be Paid in Cash

Be wary of any contractor who asks to be paid in cash or offers you a price break for paying in cash. These are warning signs that they might take your money and skip town without doing any work and without you being able to track them down.

Questions to Ask Your Roofer

Before signing any paperwork, talk with at least three local roofing contractors to get price quotes and learn more about their background and process. Get referrals and recommendations from friends, family, and neighbors to help find someone who is skilled and trustworthy. 

Here are some helpful questions to ask a roofer:

  • How many years of experience do you have?

  • Where is your business located, and how do your services work?

  • Do you work with subcontractors? If so, who are they, and what is their background?

  • Are you licensed? (if your state requires it)

  • Do you have liability insurance?

  • What is the estimated timeline for this project?

  • What are the costs, and when are payments due?

  • Could you share a few references for homeowners you recently assisted?

  • What are your terms of service? (i.e., rules or fees for changing and canceling a contract)

  • Do you offer a warranty?

Be sure to outline payment terms, the scope of work, and timeline details in writing. Ask for proof of important documents, such as their license and insurance.

What to Look for in a Roofing Contract

You should always receive a written contract from a roofer and have the opportunity to ask them questions before signing it. If a contractor makes you feel uncomfortable or brushes off your concerns, it’s a sign not to work with them. 

Your contract should include details such as:

  • Price

  • Project scope

  • Project timeline

  • Materials

  • Permits to be obtained by the contractor

  • The promise of a lien release from subcontractors and suppliers

  • Payment terms and schedule

  • Terms for changing orders or canceling the project

  • Contractor info, including their license (if necessary in your state)

  • Insurance and bonding

If your contract doesn’t include these vital pieces of information, don’t sign. Ask your contractor if they can adjust the agreement. If they won’t, or you sense anything amiss, it’s time to find a different roofer for your home.

Final Thoughts on Roof Scams

Most roofing professionals are hardworking and ethical. Angi contractors are vetted pros that you can feel confident hiring.

If you come across a contractor who you feel is unethical or trying to scam you, be sure to leave an online review to warn others. You can also contact the Better Business Bureau to file a complaint.

Before agreeing to work with any contractor, check out reviews and do your due diligence. Ask questions, review your contract closely, and listen to your gut.

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