The subject of wildcat roofers came up the other day, and now that hurricane Irma has blown across the metro area beware, they are sure to be out in force.  This is how they operate...

The wildcat roofer will drive up to your house and tell you that you have damage to your shingles.  (Once they find damage in a neighborhood they pretty much assume all the houses will be that way.)

They will tell you that your insurance company will write you a check for a new roof (which they will if you deserve one) and that they will be happy to do the work. 

They may even offer to crawl up on your roof and look at it, and often even if there is no damage they will break some corners off shingles, or simply report that there is damage.

They will also usually not give you a written estimate, rather telling you that they will be happy to do the work for the same amount as the insurance check, or just a little more.  (What a coincidence).

They will also waiver on pricing.  For instance when they say a new roof will cost you $8,000, and you balk and they lower the price to $4,500 - beware.

Here’s the problem.  While you may very well need to get a new roof installed you are taking a huge chance.  Does the company have insurance and workman’s comp?  Their telling you ‘yes’ isn’t good enough.  You need to see original documentation.

What if you have a problem with their work?  Your chances of getting any customer service out of your wildcat roofer are marginal at best.  Does the roof come with a warranty or guarantee?  Who will be around to do that work?

What if one of their workers falls off a ladder, or off your roof, or claims he did?  Somebody is going to be held responsible.

Your best bet is to get three estimates for a new roof, in writing from a quality company.  Get and check references from 5 years ago.  Check insurance and workers comp paper work.  Make sure you getting the correct shingle and warranty.

Remember, just because they found the problem doesn’t mean they have any rights to fix the problem.  Do your homework.  Check with companies you have heard of, companies that have years of successful business in the metro area, companies with roots in the community.

You have time to make an informed choice.  A good quality company won't rush you to sign a contract.  A good quality company won't need half the money up front - in fact tell them you won't pay until the roof is installed and you are satisfied.  

A good quality company will come stand by your side when the insurance adjusters come to your house to appraise the damage.  In fact, quality companies know most of the insurance appraisal folks quite well.  Use their expertise to your benefit.

Last note - don't be fooled by the low price that that wildcat roofer offers.  If you had nothing to tie you down to practical work ethics, you wouldn't charge much either.

I love this quote attributed to John Ruskin:

"There is scarcely anything in the world that some man cannot make a little worse, and sell a little more cheaply.  The person who buys on price alone is this man's lawful prey..."

Don't let that be you.

I am giving this Three Hammers because you have to be strong to stand up to these people.  You can do it!

Be warned.