In the friendly guy who's knocking on your door offering to fix the hail damage on your roof might not have your best interests at heart.
Reputable roofing contractors are so busy these days that they don't have time to go from door to door looking for work. In fact, even if they were busy, they wouldn't do that.
Professional local roofing contractors make appointments with their customers-and those appointments are initiated by you, the homeowner. They will send to your house someone wearing a logo shirt and driving a truck with the same logo on it and with Arizona license tags.
The roofer will climb up on the roof and survey the damage, come down and give you a written estimate or send you one shortly. Then, you can call the company and make an appointment to have the work done. Those guys knocking at your door are called storm chasers-or travelers or gypsies. They're usually from out of state and make their living by driving from state to state, depending on which one has had a big storm lately. They might offer you a whiz bang deal on labor and materials, or say they have left over materials from another job and can sell them to you at a cut rate price. They'll probably put a little pressure on you to let them do the job right then. And they almost certainly will ask for at least part of their money up front to buy supplies.
My advice: Wait for your regular contractor, even if you have to wait for a couple months. Unless your roof is leaking, any hail damage won't cause any problems in the meantime. You do need to have that roof repaired; if you don't, you could void your warranty and your roof could deteriorate more quickly than a healthy roof would. But you don't have to do it today-no matter what that guy at your door tells you. Not every storm juicer is a scam artist, but some are.
Here are a few typical ruses and some advice. One guy I know you said a so called roofer climbed up on his roof and came down with a photo of some severely damaged shingles and a hard sell for repair work. Problem was the photo wasn't one of my friends roof. He's been up there enough times to know where everything is, so he recognized the fraud.
They'll tell you there is damage when there isn't. Rhonda LaNue, who co-owns Lyons Roofing in Phoenix, has this advice: if you see roofers working on a lot of your neighbors' homes-they usually post a sign in the front yard showing the name of the company they work for- chances are good that your roof has been hit. If no other nearby roofs suffered damage during the storm, be suspicious when anyone says yours did.
Check out the license plate on the truck the guys driving. If it's from out-of-state, turn him away. If the sign on his truck is magnetic and removable, turn him away. When you have your roof repaired in the spring, there's no way for you to know if there's a problem with the work until it rains again-and that might be July. If your roof springs a leak in July, that out-of-state storm chaser is going to be long gone, and you'll have to pay someone else to fix your leak. Use a local company that guarantees its work and that you can call back for a touch-up if you need one.
Don't let anyone convince you to agree to an inflated price with the promise that the contractor will overbill your insurance company to get enough money back to reimburse you for your deductible. That's insurance fraud. Some will offer to pay you $1000 to let them put a sign in your front yard, and then try to get your insurance company to cover that fee. Insurance companies will not pay an outrageous price for the work.
Say no to anyone who pressures you into having the work done immediately or paying up front. Take a day or so to think about it. Ask two other contractors to come evaluate your problem so you can compare bids. That will clue you in if one estimate is unreasonably low.
Schedule the work for a time that's convenient. And schedule payments, not paying up front. Reputable companies don't need any seed money to buy supplies. Instead, pay in increments as the work is completed. Refuse to work with any contractor who is not licensed by the state Registrar of Contractors. You're breaking the law if you pay an unlicensed contractor more than $1000. If the guy skips town with your money, you won't have any way to recoup from the state's recovery funds, which covers only licensed local contractors.
Expect to wait two months or more for an appointment with a quality, local roofing company to repair your non-emergency hail damage. It's worth the wait to get someone you can trust and who has insurance, a license and bonded employees.
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*Article written by Rosie Romero for The Arizona Republic