What Is a Fly-by-Night Roofer?
When a serious storm causes considerable damage to homes and commercial buildings, dishonest roofing “contractors” come out of the woodwork. Since hundreds or even thousands of properties can sustain storm damage during a single inclement weather event, reputable roofing companies can book up completely in just a matter of hours. When they do, the unscrupulous roofers come knocking.
These contractors, widely known as fly-by-night roofers or storm chasers, are generally looking to scam unsuspecting homeowners who desperately need roof repairs. And if you don’t know how to spot them, you could get taken for quite a bit of money.
Fortunately, recognizing fly-by-night roofers isn’t difficult when you know which red flags to look for. Read on to learn what you need to know to identify a roofing scam so you can protect your wallet and your home if your roof sustains storm damage this summer.
Fly-by-Night Roofers: Who They Are & Who They Target
Fly-by-night roofers are typically uninsured contractors who try to sell their services door to door after a serious storm rolls through town. If you ever get a knock on your front door after particularly bad weather hits, and you encounter someone trying to sell you on storm damage repairs, be wary. There’s a very good chance you’re dealing with a scammer.
Generally, these unscrupulous contractors work in one of two ways. They either take a deposit for the work and disappear, or they actually perform the work but do an extremely poor job and leave you with a roof that won’t perform well long term. Either way, you won’t get what you pay for, and ultimately, you’ll end up spending more money down the road for quality roofing work.
Who do these dishonest roofers typically target? While they’re not necessarily picky about who they try to scam, generally speaking, fly-by-night roofers tend to target the following populations:
- Elderly homeowners
- Individuals who have a home for sale
- Low-income families
- Individuals who own vacant homes
Every year, property owners around the U.S. lose thousands to these scammers. But if you know how to identify them, you can protect yourself. Let’s take a look below at what you need to know to spot a fly-by-night roofer.
Five Signs You’re Talking to a Fly-by-Night Roofer
Let’s say a storm rolls through town and your roof sustains damage. You already know to be skeptical of contractors who come knocking at your door trying to sell you on storm damage repairs. But that’s not the only red flag you need to watch for. Here are a few other identifying signs you should know about too.
The Price Seems Too Good to Be True
If a roofing contractor gives you a storm damage repair estimate that seems like an incredible bargain, be wary. While roofing work estimates can and do vary from company to company, generally, quotes from reputable roofers tend to fall within a certain range.
As with most contracting services, roof repairs and replacements have a ballpark price point depending on the type of material your roof is constructed from. If you get a quote that seems way out in left field, even if the price sounds attractive, do your research. Usually, super cheap estimates are an indication that the roofers do low-quality work or that they’ll take your money and run without fixing your roof.
They Want a Disproportionately Large Down Payment Before Commencing Work
Generally speaking, fly-by-night roofers ask for a huge down payment before they’ll commence work. It’s not uncommon for roofing companies to request a down payment, but reputable roofers typically stick within a predictable range.
A deposit of around 15% on the low end or 30% on the high end for larger, more involved projects is pretty standard. If you speak with a roofer who asks for more than a third of the project cost upfront, be skeptical.
You Can’t Find Testimonials From Past Clients
Any roofing company worth their salt has testimonials from past customers who can speak to the quality of their work. If you can’t find any reviews from past clients, you may be dealing with a pop-up roofer who’s just looking to make a quick buck and disappear.
It’s not uncommon for fly-by-night roofers to pop up after a storm, scam several homeowners, and then fall off the map entirely. Later, when the next storm rolls through the area, they might pop up again under a totally different business name.
The Company Lacks an Online Presence
In the digital age, reputable roofing companies know that prospective customers are searching for services and information online. They also know that to stand out in a crowded market and instill confidence in their prospects, they must have an online presence.
That’s why just about every high-quality roofer you encounter will have a website and, usually, a presence on home services websites as well. To learn more about the company, look for their information on sites like:
- The Better Business Bureau
- Angie’s List
If you do some digging and can’t find a business website or listings on any home services sites, you’re probably dealing with a scammer.
The Roofers Don’t Want to Show Proof of Insurance & Licensing
All reputable roofing companies carry full licensing and insurance and should be more than willing to show proof if you ask. When you encounter a roofer who either doesn’t carry these things or seems unwilling to show proof of them, walk away.
You don’t want unlicensed contractors working on your roof as they’ll likely do a poor job, and you certainly don’t want uninsured roofers on your property. Should any injuries or property damage occur during the course of the job, you could be held financially liable for repairs or the workers’ medical expenses.
Need Storm Damage Roof Repairs? Trust Paradigm Roofing
If your roof sustains storm damage this summer, don’t hesitate to get in touch with our team at Paradigm Roofing. We have over 30 years of experience in the roofing industry and are proud members of the Texas Association of Builders and the Roofing Contractors Association of Texas. Whether you’re looking for a few minor roof repairs or a complete roof replacement, you can trust our contractors to deliver work of the highest quality.