Hail No! The best deal may not be the least expensive
By Beth McCann, Denver District Attorney ~
Hail season is upon us and so are the businesses that chase the storms to get your repair business when you are at your most vulnerable. Don’t be so quick to hire a contractor that you end up worse off than you were before. The Better Business Bureau recently reported that a hail repair business took advantage of a woman who was getting her car repaired. The business returned her car not only without having completed the upfront paid-for repairs, but with hundreds of miles added to the odometer. That same business told customers they would pay for their rental cars, but later failed to do so.
Check with The Better Business Bureau to see if the company you want to do business with is listed favorably.
Whether you are dealing with hail damage to your auto or your home roof, the same advice holds true:
Repair companies should be able to provide the names and addresses of three previous clients. Make sure you follow up by calling the clients regarding the services and professionalism of the contractor. Check out your rights under The Consumer Protection/Roofing Bill from the Colorado Roofing Association.
Get at least 3 bids
Don’t fall into the trap of getting a ‘great bid’ or getting a recommendation from your friend. Getting three bids on the front end, is far less time consuming and costly than trying to remedy poor workmanship on the back-end.
Signs Of Insurance Fraud
- If a contractor is offering to pay an insurance deductible.
- 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.
- If a contractor is offering a no cost incentive to the home owner.
- Insist on a written contract before work is performed and request a detailed, written estimate as well.
- Do not pay in cash.
- Don’t pay more than 10 percent of the job’s total as a down payment or more than $1,000. Roofing scammers will take the money and run.
- Schedule the work for a time that’s convenient. Schedule payments, and do not pay up front. Reputable companies don’t need any seed money to buy supplies. Instead, pay in increments as the work is completed.
- If possible, pay by credit card. That way charges can be disputed.
- Always get documentation of the completed work, warranty of the product and a copy of payment to be filed to the insurance company.
Only employ a licensed roofing contractor. Make sure the car repair shop is fully licensed and insured as well. If you are considering dent-less repair, it is not unusual to see dent repair shops hiring naïve technicians to do the job.
Roof Building Permits
Permits protect the resale of your home and are required by lending institutions.
- Un-Permitted work can void insurance coverage.
- Permits add value to your project and require that inspections be performed to verify that work was done correctly.
- Have your contractor pull a permit.
- The permit holder is responsible for compliance with the Building Code.
Both scammers and reputable contractors sometimes offer to do a free inspection. Keep an eye on what they are looking at as scammer often report more damage than there really is (sometimes creating the damage themselves) and then offers to repair or replace it at no cost.
Be wary of door knockers, especially after a major storm event. While many reputable contractors use this to generate business make sure you follow all the tips in this list to ensure you are working with a reputable firm.
- Have a written contract detailing that the roofing contractor will pull a permit and outline the work to be performed, cost associated with each task and time frame with estimated start and finish dates.
- Always get a receipt for payments made to contractors.
- Make payments beyond a deposit to your contractor only when you get something in return, such as materials delivered to your address.
- For large projects, before each payment, ask for a walk through with the contractor explaining the work done so far and what will happen next.
- Never pay in full until the job is complete, has been inspected and the building permit has been closed.
Finally, take your time, read testimonials, research through BBB, seek advice, and most importantly, ask questions. Remember, a locally owned company may be easier to follow up with if there are any issues after the work has been performed.