How To Avoid Roof Scams
To the general public, the roofing industry has a shady reputation. Over the years, numerous dishonest and illusive contractors have taken advantage of trusting clients. The result has often been an ineffective end-product, an overpriced project or a negative experience. We’ve all heard stories of having to hire a second contractor to repair the deficiencies of the previous contractor.
When listening to homeowners who approach us for help, we have heard countless horror stories about projects gone array. As contractors ourselves, we want this to stop tarnishing our trade and our reputation through association. Ultimately, our goal is to educate, guide and help homeowners with the protection of their building’s envelope, from the roof to the foundation. Therefore, we have decided to make a list of the most common “scams” to watch out for.
1- Scam Contractor
Too many times we have heard about contractors who have taken their clients’ money and have either not completed the work or have poorly executed the task at hand. Before hiring a roofing contractor, take the following factors into consideration:
License: Take the time to look into contractors. At the very least, ask for proof of their RBQ license and their liability insurance. Legitimate contractors must be registered with the RBQ to execute any construction-related work in Quebec (click here to see if your contractor is registered). An adequate amount of liability insurance is also important (5 million in coverage is recommended). Another important consideration is the incidence of lawsuits and legal issues. Yes, this information is available to the general public (click here for more information).
References: This is a great way to get a sense of whether clients were satisfied with the work that was done or if there were any issues. Ask around and get different testimonials. You can even check to see if there are any online reviews (such as google or Facebook…). Sometimes contractors will even have past clients that are willing to discuss their project and experience. The best references often come from the manufacturers and/or suppliers, as well as other contractors that you may know and/or trust.
2- Scam Discount
Be wary of significantly lower prices when comparing quotes. Although estimated costs can vary between contractors competing on the same job, you must be sure that they are quoting on the same work. Quality of materials, qualifications of labor and methods of installation can all play a role in the varying costs. Consider the following when comparing quotes:
Written Contract: A written contract is highly recommended for multiple reasons. Firstly, it binds both you and the contractor to the agreed upon terms and protects the best interests of both parties. It should be precise and can even include clauses to account for any possible and unforeseen expenses…such as rotten wood to replace. Beware of significantly cheaper contractors that may be ambushing you with numerous and unwarranted additional charges.
Multiple Quotes: While you may be in a hurry to get your work over and done with, we suggest you take your time when choosing a contractor. Even when you have an emergency, do your due diligence by getting at least 3 quotes. If one contractor estimates a significantly lower price than 2 competing contractors for the same work, carefully consider why. Having multiple quotes for your project allows you the opportunity to compare variables, such as operating methods, safety measures, materials used, quality and cost of labour, etc… Compare what each contractor is offering and assess the pros and cons. Ultimately, you generally get what you pay for.
3- Scam Materials
We can’t stress enough how important materials and workmanship are in terms of significantly extending the lifespan of your roof. Materials can often be substituted for cheaper alternatives, however, that is often at the cost of quality, efficiency and durability. Ask your contractor questions about the materials being used. This will help you get a feel for his level of knowledge and experience, as well as the quality that he intends to use.
More recently, we have seen homeowners being misled about their eligibility for RenoVert – the Quebec government’s tax credit for eco-responsible renovations. To be more specific, the installation of a white or green roof can qualify a homeowner for a 20% tax credit. However, we have seen instances where contractors mislead homeowners to believe that the materials being used are eligible when that is not the case. In order to be considered a white roof, Revenue Quebec states that “Authorized covers are materials with a solar reflectance index (SRI) of at least 78 in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications.” We strongly recommend you ask your contractors the exact SRI of the material being used.
To sum it all up – be curious and ask questions! We suggest you inquire about details of the quote you have received and don’t be afraid to have a conversation with the roofing contractor(s). The more information you have at your disposal, the better off you will be when it comes to making a decision.