Ever heard the term, storm chaser? Well, they really do exist and it’s not uncommon after bad storms hit an area, that unscrupulous contractors will try to take advantage of the situation. Whether they are from out of state and looking for an easy business or are ill-qualified local contractors trying to make a quick buck from those in need—far too many homeowners fall victim to predatory business practices! Most of these companies are here only to take your insurance money, perform a simple repair with promises to return, and are never seen again. To ensure your home is repaired properly, hire a local contractor that is licensed, bonded, insured and offers in-house warranties alongside any applicable product warranties.
How to Recognize And Avoid Predatory Contractors After A Storms
High-Pressure Sales Tactics
If you get a contractor or salesman knock on your door after a big storm, ask to see their state licensing, insurance, and bond information. That way you can quickly weed out the reputable from the not- reputable. Another thing to keep in mind is that legitimate roofing and home restoration companies use local canvassing as a sales tactic, and so if someone knocks on your door it doesn’t always mean they are shady.
Non Local Contractors
If a contractor shows up at your door and is in a truck or van with out of state plates or has graphics on the vehicle suggesting storm damage, it is also likely they are only out for a quick and easy sale and will not be around to finish or guarantee their work.
Push to Sign a Contract Before an Inspection
No reputable contractor will show up and talk you into signing a contract without inspecting your roof and writing up a formal estimate. Professionals do not ‘eyeball’ the problem and pull a number out of nowhere.
How to Avoid These Scammers
If someone shows up at your door uninvited after your home has received damage, ask where their corporate office located. Also, ask for their main office number. Check to see if they belong to your local chamber of commerce. Also ask to see their state licensing, insurance, and bond information. Reputable local contractors will have no problem showing you this information and should have copies of these documents on hand. Search their company name online to get a feel for what areas they service and how well they are reviewed.
Tips from the BBB on Selecting a Contractor
- Don’t be pressured into making an immediate decision with a long-term impact. Be proactive in selecting a business and not reactive to direct door to door sales solicitations.
- For major repairs, take time to shop around and get 3-4 estimates based on the same specifications and materials. Check out references that are at least one year old, verify with your local government to find out whether or not businesses are required to be licensed/registered to do work in your area, and check with your local building inspector to see if a building permit is required.
- Be wary of door-to-door workers who claim to have leftover materials from a job “down the street” or who do not have a permanent place of business.
- Be leery if a worker shows up on your doorstep to announce that your home is unsafe. If you are concerned about possible structural damage in your home, have an engineer, architect or building official inspect it. While most roofing contractors abide by the law, be careful allowing someone you do not know inspect your roof. An unethical contractor may actually create damage to get work.
- Require a written contract agreement with anyone you hire. Be sure their name, address, license number, if applicable, and phone number are included in the contract. Read and understand the contract in its entirety, and don’t sign a blank contract. A copy of the signed contract is to be given to you at the time of signature.