Fly-by-night Roofers in Texas
In Dallas and even in the entirety of Texas, you don’t actually need a license to be a roofing contractor. That’s pretty shocking news to most people who are in the process of hiring a roofing contractor. This means that pretty much anyone with a pick-up truck and ladder can pose as an expert, making it difficult to tell them apart from a licensced roofing contractor.
Many individuals in the market for a new roof will probably obtain estimates, ask questions, compare prices and choose a roofing company based on factors important to them. Those individuals who take these vital steps dramatically lower their risk of hiring the wrong roofing contractor. However, they are not completely exempt from risk either. It’s important to familiarize yourself with how these fly-by-night roofers work so you can avoid hiring them.
Who do fly-by-night roofers target?
- The Elderly
- Minority and Low Income Families
- Homes for Sale
- Vacant Homes
Every year, consumers lose millions of dollars to by fly-by-night roofing scams. As a result the roofing industry suffers the stain of consumer fear which can be difficult to over come. Let’s take a closer look at who these fly-by-night roofers are targeting, their tactics and how to protect yourself. We encourage you to share this information with anyone who may be a target of fly-by-night roofers.
The group most targeted by fly-by-night roofers is the elderly. Elderly individuals are usually home during regular business hours when most neighbors are at work. Fly-by-night roofers will generally drive through an area several times, usually following a hail storm or a natural disaster. This is known as storm chasing or tornado chasing. They will look for signs indicating someone is home. When they find homes that match the profile they are looking for, they’ll attempt to offer work for repairs that are often not needed. They do this with door-to-door solicitation. The offers are usually inexpensive, giving fixed income elderly people a sense of low risk.
Elderly individuals are often alone for long periods of time. Their loneliness can make them somewhat vulnerable to welcoming the company of an unexpected guest. They may also feel a sense of pity for a hard working guy trying to make ends meet. Older generations come from a different era when authorizing work was based off a hand shake and without a contract. Unfortunately, times have changed and people can take advantage of this mentality.
Once the fly-by-night roofer begins work, they will use a bait-and-switch method. A common tactic is to claim the work is going to be more expensive due to finding additional problems. Often they will use technical terminology that their victim is unfamiliar with in order to gain control of the situation. If the customer declines the work, they may intimidate them with threats of a law suit, filing a lean on the house or simply state they will leave the home in unstable conditions. To save face and to avoid the humiliation from their children, elderly individuals will generally cave in to these threats and could end up losing thousands of dollars.
Minority & Low Income Families
A common tactic used is the language trust. If the roofer and customer speak the same language, can establish a immediate level of trust. And in the case of fly-by-night roofers, this trust is usually a false one. Once the fly-by-night roofer has found their target they will often run the same routine with the bait-and-switch. A huge red flag is if fly-by-night roofer asks for a deposit in the form of cash, cashiers check or money order. These forms of payment cannot be traced and give the roofer an easy opportunity to take off with the money.
Another tactic is to dangle promotions or outrageous warranties to give a sense of an unbelievable deal. In the roofing industry, we call this a “tail light warranty.” It means that your warranty is gone as soon as you see the tail lights of the truck disappear down the street. If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Take time to research what the industry standards are for warranties.
Homes for Sale & Vacant Homes
Homes for sale and/or vacant homes are prime targets for fly-by-night roofers. It sounds crazy but fly-by-night roofers are known to intentionally damage a roof by breaking sky lights, damaging shingles or breaking accessories causing leaks. After sneakily damaging the property, they will return and solicit those homes for repairs. Fly-by-night roofers have also been notoriously known for removing expensive accessories such as solar powered attic fans and/or any other accessories that they may need.
Landlords and property managers should make routine check ups on their homes. The greatest threat to homes for sale or a vacant home is when a roofing company is scheduling work to be performed. The roofing contractor will schedule a roofing supply distributor to drop off materials, then leave the materials on the lot for long periods of time only to return to see that the materials have been stolen.
One of the best steps a property owner can take is to be present when the materials are dropped off. Also, request the roofing company to load the materials onto the roof immediately after it has been dropped off. Some roofing supply distributors offer to load the materials directly onto the roof during the drop off. This makes it much more difficult for fly-by-night roofers to run off in the middle of the night with materials that are as close as an arms length of distance.
How to Protect Yourself from Fly-by-night Roofers
Now that we know who fly-by-night roofers target and the tactics that they use, let’s take a closer look at how you can protect yourself. Here’s a checklist we recommend using to do so:
- Never sign any documents without a performing a background check or research
- Ask the company what county they are registered in and contact the comptrollers office to verify ownership
- Never provide a down payment in the form of cash, cashier’s check or money order
- Never authorize work without a contract
- Make sure the contract provides a detailed description of the work to be performed
- Watch out for tempting deals or outrageous warranty coverage unusual to industry standard. If it’s too good to be true, it probably is
- Report any suspicious activity of unusual vehicles parked or driving through a neighborhood
- Avoid dropping off materials for long periods of time or ask for the materials to be loaded onto the roof
We encourage you to share this article and talk about it with friends and family who might be at risk. If you have any questions, comments or concerns please call us at 1-888-618-3271, email us at [email protected] or use our easy Contact Page to send us a quick message.