Summer brings about its pests and among the most dangerous and annoying are the roofing scammers. These cowboy builders will target and gnaw away at you until they can pocket the cash then flee the scene.
They leave behind an ugly trail of shoddy work and lies, often preying on the elderly and new homeowners, who they assume don’t know any better.
We understand how devastating it can be to fall prey to one of these scams, so we’ve put together this article to help you spot potential roof scammers and avoid becoming another victim in your roof restoration project.
Roofing scammers have been around for a long time, conning thousands of people every year, but the techniques they use can be easy to spot if you know what to look out for. If you identify them early you can get rid of them quickly, not giving them a chance to dig their claws in.
One of the most telling signs of a roofing scam is how they handle payment. If they ask for money upfront, suggest payment in cash, or wave of the need for any paperwork, be very, very skeptical.
Any accredited roofing contractor will never conduct business like this. Cash in hand means tax avoidance, and most reputable tradespeople will have accounts with builders merchants so they won’t need cash upfront to cover the cost of materials.
Lack of paperwork like receipts, quotes and a contract means you have nothing to fall back on if you have been scammed. They will leave behind little evidence other than a physical description.
If any of these things come up during a trader’s pitch, demand to see credentials – details of the company, contact information, a permanent landline number, a verifiable address, evidence of any accreditations.
Any legitimate roofer should expect to provide all of this information and if a trader refuses, then you know not to do business with them. If you do suspect a rogue trader, you might want to gather as many details about them as possible, so you can report them to trading standards. Reporting scammers is the best way to stop the problem as a whole.
‘Just Passing By’
Door-to-door cold callers can be tricky to deal with. A typical line will be that they ‘were in the area’ or ‘just driving by and they ‘noticed that your roof needs serious work doing’. This is how cold calling works, they offer up the same vague lines in the hope that people take them at face value and believe them.
They might offer to give a free appraisal of your roof, or offer a discount – especially if you pay by cash – or they might even claim they had materials left over from a recent job. All of these lines are the bread and butter of scammers.
The ‘leftover materials’ could be stolen or of inferior quality, so don’t give them any chance of getting anywhere near your roof. Treat them with skepticism and don’t offer them the concerned reaction they’re looking for. Tell them you’d prefer to look into it yourself or shop around.
Roofing scammers will often employ high-pressure tactics. If you invite a trader inside they might try to trick you into signing a deal on the spot, perhaps claiming that a special offer is only available for the next 24 hours. Or they can try to bully you, using manipulation to get you to agree to a deal.
As a rule of thumb, a roofer who shows up at your door uninvited to offer you a deal should be turned down without question. Even if your roof is in need of repairs, pursue accredited traders in your own time. Gather numerous quotes and ask for references – previous customers you might be able to contact, for example.
Cold callers will have these tactics rehearsed, and will be skilled in coming across as genuine and sincere, but don’t take them just on their word. Again, don’t accept the first offer you receive.
Shop around, find an accredited roofing company, and ask neighbors for recommendations – or if they’ve come into contact with similar cold callers recently.
Talk to Your Neighbours
Likewise, if you suspect that a rogue trader has tried to scam you, warn the people in your area – especially the elderly. Some traders will print business cards. Do some background research on the information presented.
Search online to see if there is any trace of them, and if they have a website, you can look up to see if the owner of the site is recognized or legitimate.
Arming yourself with knowledge like this can help those either unable or unaware of finding out themselves, so spread the knowledge to those in your local area.
Safe Contractor Scheme
We covered this scheme a few months ago, explaining how accredited companies with high health and safety standards are recognized as safe contractors and can be found on the safe contractor’s database.
Always look for the safe contractor logo on a company’s website or brochure, to ensure that any roofing work done won’t be dangerous or unsafe.