It might be argued that your roof is the most important part of your home, as it directly protects you from the elements. As such, you should always be careful when choosing a roofing contractor. Unfortunately, not all of them are honest. When vetting a potential roofing contractor, you should always be on the lookout for warning signs. In order to help you learn to recognize those warning signs, we will examine five common roofing scams that have been reported within New Jersey in recent years.
1. The “Low-Ball” Scam
When a contractor offers you an exceptionally low bid, it might seem like a lucky break. In most cases, however, it is not. Some contractors will offer an exceptionally low bid to secure your business, only to raise the price later on. These extra costs will usually take the form of “hidden expenses” for labor, parts, etc. In the end, you don’t really end up getting the low price that you expected. So, as with any other business dealings, you should always remember this rule: If it looks too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true.
2. The “Extra Damage” Scam
This one is often used in combination with the first scam on our list. Some roofing contractors will exaggerate the extent of the repairs that are required. They know that most people are not going to climb on the roof and inspect the damage for themselves. Thus, they know that they can probably get away with exaggerating the damages to some extent. By doing this, they create a justification to increase their price.
If a contractor informs you about “extra damage,” they may be telling the truth. However, you cannot simply take them at their word. Any damage that is reported should be accompanied by proof that such damage exists. They should be able to tell you exactly where the problem is, what the problem is, and what will be required to fix the problem. Just remember, if they are going to increase the price, you have every right to know all the details. If they are not willing to provide any of this, it’s a big red flag.
3. The “Storm Chaser” Scam
Scam artists have a nasty habit of exploiting current events in all sorts of devious ways. For instance, there were all sorts of scams that sought to take advantage of the Covid-19 pandemic. In like manner, some scam artists will use hurricanes and tornadoes to their advantage. After all, these storms have a tendency to ruin a lot of roofs, creating many opportunities for roofing contractors to make a profit.
Unfortunately, some of them do it in an extremely dishonest way. They will go to an area that has recently suffered storm damage, and they will go door-to-door offering their services. Anyone who uses a “door-to-door” approach should be regarded with suspicion (if not chased off entirely) as such people are generally not legit or honest. These people will catch someone in a bad spot, offer them a seemingly easy solution, collect a large down payment, and then skip town.
4. The “Recycled Materials” Scam
As with most repair jobs, the cost of a roofing job consists of two portions: Parts and labor. Roofing materials are not cheap, even if you go with the lower-grade options. The larger your roof, the more material you are likely to need. These materials will include things like tiles, flashing, gutterwork, nails, etc. Ordinarily, the contractor obtains these materials and adds their cost to the overall fee. However, some shady contractors will try to avoid these costs by using secondhand or recycled materials.
You can go to the dumpsters around construction sites and pick up all sorts of roofing/building materials for free. However, most of these will have been discarded for good reason. Even if a small portion of this material is still serviceable, you don’t want to trust the integrity of your home to a bunch of shoddy secondhand junk that someone else threw away. So, when you are dealing with a contractor for the first time, make sure you inspect their materials. You don’t have to be an expert to know the difference between a usable piece of material and a piece of junk.
5. The “Down Payment” Scam
It is normal for roofing contractors to collect a down payment before starting a job. However, they should be willing to give you a receipt for this payment, along with plenty of information about themselves and their company. Also, a down payment should never exceed 15% of the total cost.
If someone asks you for an excessively large down payment, it is a big red flag. Honest contractors know that they will get paid in the end, so it shouldn’t be a problem for them to accept a reasonable down payment. When someone goes above that 15% mark, it means they are probably planning to take the money and run. Likewise, if someone tries to get you to make that down payment without any way of verifying that you’ve done so, that is an even bigger warning sign. Even a smaller company should be able to give you a verified invoice or something similar when sending you a bill.
Obviously, these are not the only roofing scams that exist. While most roofers in NJ are not crooked, you should always be on the lookout for those that are. In general, you should always trust your instincts when they tell you that something is not right. Also, remember this rule: Verify everything, especially if money is involved.
Of course, all of these problems can be avoided by choosing a reputable and well-established roofing company. While this area has no shortage of roofing contractors, not all of them can offer the same level of service. If you are looking for a good New Jersey roofing company, we would recommend that you call us at RGB Construction at 856-264-9093.