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Don’t Get Scammed by a Bad Roofer, or One That’s Only “Pretty Good”

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The most important factor in your roof replacement or repair is which roofer you get to do it. When dealing with an investment of that size, put your confidence in an experienced contractor whom you can trust.

Sounds simple enough, right? But how do you find a roofer you can trust? Here are a few things to start with.

Before You Call

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There are several steps you can take to ensure that you get the best team for the job before you even talk to a prospect.

Search online. You might have already started your search by looking online for roofers in the Bay Area. That’s a great way to do it, as you can get a snapshot of how nearby contractors rank in their reputations.

Search via Google Maps to find a condensed list of available companies pre-sorted by Google’s algorithms. You’ll start your search by seeing the best roofers that are close to your location and expand from there.

Evaluate their online reputations. What are their ratings on Diamond Certified, GuildQuality, Google, Yelp, and Facebook like? How many reviews does each company have compared to their competition? What is the community saying about them?

With just a few clicks, you can see feedback from dozens of previous customers. A good reputation with many positive reviews is very hard to come by, so you can have more confidence in a team that has worked hard on building that reputation.

Google search their business name + city name. This is just a fishing expedition, but it can be very revealing. You’ll get a host of different review sites (in most cases) near the top, so you can get a bird’s-eye view of the company right away.

You’ll also see relevant awards they’ve received and press coverage of the company, whether it’s good or bad. If you don’t find much good news when you search for them, you might want to try elsewhere.

Check their website. If they don’t have a website, you might have reason to be concerned. No business worth its salt today lacks a quality website with up-to-date information. The same goes for a website that looks as if it came from 1990…steer clear!

Due Diligence

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One of the biggest mistakes that customers make is failing to thoroughly talk with each contractor they are considering. We recommend setting aside a full hour to discuss problems, products, and prices.

You’re most likely to be dissatisfied with the result of your project if you weren’t sure what you were getting yourself into. Discuss your options and the contractor’s experience, and trust your instincts. Be very wary of the low bid. If it sounds to good to be true, it probably is.

Reject a contractor who doesn’t have a permanent place of business. There are many fly-by-night roofers who perform shoddy work and then disappear with the money. If a business isn’t financially stable enough to even have a long-term business residence, that raises immediate red flags and they should be rejected.

If you have any doubts, visit their business in person. Anyone who isn’t prepared to answer questions, isn’t a risk worth taking.

Ensure that they have insurance. Ask to see their certificate of insurance for comprehensive liability, workers’ compensation, and completed operations insurance. These will protect you in case of an accident or if something goes awry with the project.

Any contractor who takes their business seriously will not only have these but also insure their vehicles, equipment, and health. If they aren’t willing to protect themselves and their business, they probably aren’t going to look out for you or your home, either.

Uninsured contractors often make low bids, as they have significantly reduced operating costs and they have nothing to lose. That might sound great for them, but if there is an accident or damage to your property, you could be responsible. Ask for the contractor’s safety plan.

Are they licensed and part of a trade association? At a bare minimum, all contractors should be licensed, and lack of a license should result in immediate rejection. Assuming that low bar is met, ask what trade associations they are part of. Feel free to call the respective trade associations and find out if the contractor is a member in good standing and if they are continuing their training and education.

How long have they been in business? When you get a bad roofer, you don’t always know immediately. Most low-quality jobs take some time to reveal themselves, deteriorating over a period of a few years. If something goes wrong, you need to know that the business will still be there to take responsibility and fix a potential problem. Ninety-six percent of contracting businesses fail within the first five years.

How well do they handle complaints? Even a great business occasionally runs into problems or finds an unhappy customer. While it isn’t a good sign if you find an angry customer under every rock you turn over, what’s most important is how the contractor deals with problems when they arise.

Reject a contractor who claims to never have had a complaint. They aren’t being honest. A good contractor can give you an example of a problem account and tell you how they resolved it. Check any negative reviews to see if and how the business responds to critical feedback.

What warranties do they offer? We covered this in depth last month, but it’s valuable if a warranty covers the work as well as the materials. Roofers need to be certified in the product they are installing for a warranty to be valid, so ask to see their credentials.

Get the Right San Francisco Contractor the First Time.

I’m sad to say that Mr. Roofing has had many jobs cleaning up after the poor work done by some not-so-good roofers. Usually, this means the homeowner or business simply has to chalk up their expenses as a loss, as it is difficult to recover your money from a contractor who has disappeared, closed up shop, or wasn’t qualified to work in the first place.

Do your due diligence and hire the right roofer in San Francisco the first time. If you ever have any questions or even want to run something by our team, please feel free to reach out to us.

~Mr. Roofing
San Francisco’s residential & commercial roofing experts

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