Top Red Flags When Hiring a Roofing Contractor

September 5, 2023

The roofing sector often gets a bad rap, and quite frankly, it's for a valid reason. The core of this negative image is formed by unscrupulous contractors who exploit homeowners for a quick profit.

This tarnished reputation not only makes homeowners wary of trustworthy roofers, but it also prompts them to take on risky and subpar DIY projects. As a part of the roofing business, I could easily portray a more favorable image of our industry.

However, the reality is somewhat different. Nevertheless, I believe in being forthright to guide you and others in navigating away from the industry's pitfalls.

For over four decades, the professionals at Top Quality Remodeling & Restoration have been enlightening homeowners about the highs and lows of the roofing world. Armed with this experience, I'll guide you on how to identify an unreliable roofer from a distance.

In this article, we'll uncover the 8 warning signals indicating you might be engaging with a subpar roofing contractor:

  1. The contractor lacks appropriate licensing, bonding, and insurance.
  2. The contractor hails from a company located outside your state.
  3. They ask for your signature even before inspecting the roof.
  4. The feedback and reviews for their company are mostly negative.
  5. Your provided estimate lacks a detailed breakdown.
  6. The contractor avoids discussing the final quotation in detail with you.
  7. Their workmanship guarantee falls short of providing extensive coverage.
  8. They readily slash their prices just to secure your project.

The contractor lacks appropriate licensing, bonding, and insurance

Every roofing contractor ought to be licensed, bonded, and insured in the state where they provide services. If they possess all three credentials, they should readily present the necessary documents as evidence.

It's a significant concern if they aren't certified, bonded, and insured in your region. The concern deepens if they're reluctant to validate these credentials. Should the contractor lack any of these essential documents, it's best to reconsider engaging them.

Without these safeguards, you're left without any means of redress should any issues arise during your roofing project. Fundamentally, a contractor's licensing, bonding, and insurance are in place for your protection.

Hence, always insist on verifying these credentials with every potential roofer and continue your search if they fall short in any area.

The contractor hails from a company located outside your state

Another cautionary indicator is when a roofing company from outside your state approaches you with inspection offers. This doesn't inherently mean they're unreliable, but it's vital for any prospective roofer to have a local contact number and an established address in your vicinity.

While this might not be a common scenario, you should be particularly vigilant after severe storms that damage roofs. That's when these itinerant, storm-chasing firms swoop in. They tend to offer services at rates lower than local businesses, quickly complete jobs, collect their fees, and then head off to another storm-affected location.

Often, these firms are indifferent to adhering to local regulations, delivering quality workmanship, or ensuring your roof's proper installation. Even if they promise warranties on their work, there's no assurance they'll be available to address any subsequent issues.

To clarify, not every "storm chaser" is dubious. But, sadly, many homeowners have been misled by such companies.

For your safety and peace of mind, I advocate engaging with local roofing businesses. This way, should any concerns arise, you know precisely where and how to reach them.

They ask for your signature even before inspecting the roof

A clear warning sign of an unreliable roofing contractor is when they pressurize you to sign a document before even inspecting the roof. This is likely a strategy to bind you into a contract and claim rights over your roofing project, depriving you of the choice to select your preferred contractor.

While this tactic is commonly employed by storm-chasing companies, it doesn't necessarily occur under typical situations. Still, it's worth noting that even some local roofing companies with questionable motives might resort to this approach.

If confronted with such a situation, graciously refuse to sign and explain that you'd like to consult with a few other roofing companies before making a decision.

The feedback and reviews for their company are mostly negative

When assessing companies, many homeowners first turn to reviews. By scrutinizing feedback for prospective roofing companies, you can discern whether the contractor is credible or perhaps lacking.

Let's face it; not all reviews can be taken at face value, as people often lean towards polarized opinions, either highly positive or extremely negative. However, when you notice recurring complaints, such as subpar workmanship or neglecting to honor warranties, it's a distinct sign that the company might not be top-tier.

Conversely, numerous positive testimonials often vouch for companies that uphold their work, maintain good customer relations, and adhere to industry best practices. Just ensure that you're basing your judgment on feedback from the past 2-3 months to capture the most recent experiences of homeowners.

Your provided estimate lacks a detailed breakdown

Every roofing estimate (be it a quote, proposal, or similar) ought to be detailed with a comprehensive breakdown of all tasks and costs involved in your roof replacement. This ensures transparency about every penny you spend, encompassing the roofing materials, contractor's labor, and other associated expenses.

However, a glaring red flag when dealing with a potential roofing contractor is receiving an estimate that only states a lump sum. Every factor affecting your roof's cost should be clearly itemized. No exceptions.

In the absence of a detailed list, you're left in the dark about where your money is going. This ambiguity can pave the way for compromises like inferior roofing materials, unskilled labor, and other tactics that mask a seemingly attractive low cost, which in reality, amounts to a substandard roof.

Moreover, any workmanship warranty they offer is likely worth only the paper it's printed on. Should you ever receive a roofing estimate that only lists a total amount, it's best to discard it and continue your search.

The contractor avoids discussing the final quotation in detail with you

Regarding estimates, a critical aspect of receiving a final quote or proposal is the subsequent discussion with the contractor. Even if the estimate is itemized, it's a concerning sign if the contractor hesitates to walk you through each line, ensuring you fully grasp what you're committing to.

Such reluctance also deprives you of the opportunity to ask questions and voice any reservations. If a roofing contractor shirks this essential step, it casts doubt on the eventual quality of their work.

It's worth noting that, in the digital era, it's not uncommon for contractors to offer a video breakdown of your quote. However, if they invest the effort in crafting a video, they should equally be prepared to personally discuss it with you.

Their workmanship guarantee falls short of providing extensive coverage

When investing in a new roof, you'll receive warranties covering both the materials and the craftsmanship of the roofing contractor. While your estimate will detail these warranties, it's crucial to hone in on the workmanship warranty as it reflects the contractor's confidence in their execution.

It's a given that every roofing contractor should provide a workmanship warranty. If they don't, it's advisable to reconsider hiring them. A confident roofing contractor, proud of their quality and the materials they use, should readily back their work for a minimum of 10 years.

If they propose a shorter warranty duration, approach with caution and consider other alternatives. A lesser period could hint at compromises—be it in labor costs, material quality, or potential shortcuts in the process. Given that you're committing a substantial sum to your roof, elevate your expectations. Opt for a roofing firm that assures prolonged protection. While a decade is a basic benchmark, it's commendable to seek warranties extending to a lifetime or nearing it, such as 25 years.

They readily slash their prices just to secure your project

Believe me when I say, unscrupulous roofing contractors can detect when you're hunting for the most budget-friendly deal. The moment they discern your quest for the lowest bid, you become their primary target.

Such contractors often exploit this knowledge, slashing their prices to lure you. This typically entails omitting essential materials, opting for inferior-quality alternatives, or substituting components (for instance, employing 3-tab asphalt shingles in place of ridge capping), making the offer superficially attractive.

I'd also be skeptical of the quality of labor they'd employ for such a discounted job. It's worth noting that while trustworthy roofers might slightly reduce their prices to stay competitive, alarm bells should ring if they persistently undercut themselves to secure your contract.

To clarify, a lower-priced estimate doesn't inherently label them as a dubious roofing contractor. Different companies have varied overheads, product preferences, and other factors influencing their pricing.

However, when one quotation significantly undercuts others, it's essential to be discerning and question the reasons behind such a discrepancy.

Wrapping Up

Selecting the ideal roofing contractor is more than just choosing the lowest bid or the most impressive sales pitch. It's about safeguarding your home, your investment, and ensuring peace of mind for years to come. By diligently following the steps outlined in this guide, not only will you be equipped to differentiate between genuine professionals and less scrupulous operators, but you'll also pave the way for a successful roofing project. Remember, a well-maintained roof stands as a testament to a homeowner's commitment to quality. With the right contractor by your side, you're not just purchasing roofing services; you're investing in the longevity and safety of your home. So, make your choice wisely and ensure that your home remains the sanctuary it's meant to be.

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