After a storm or natural disaster, many people come outside to see damage to the roofs of their homes. This is often followed by several individuals knocking on your door offering to fix your roof. While it can seem like a convenient option, there are many reasons not to trust these "storm chasers" with one of the most important structures on your home.
What is a "storm chaser"?
Storm chasers are unlicensed individuals who take advantage of people after a storm has damaged many local families’ homes. They will drive through neighborhoods and knock on doors where they see that the home has been damaged. Some will leave flyers with a phone number and either no name or a fake company name. There will rarely, if ever, be any information about licensing, insurance or an address for the company.
It is easy to be taken in by these fly-by-night operations. They often show up before the homeowner has a chance to get estimates from legitimate companies in the area. Additionally, they will often promise rates that are far less expensive than what professional roofers may charge.
The problem is, a homeowner who chooses one of these companies has few protections. If your contractors do substandard work, there is no licensing board that can take them to task. If they damage your home, there is no insurance fund that can ensure that you are compensated for your losses.
Worst of all, if they leave without completing the job, you have nowhere to turn to recover your lost money. These individuals will often ask for at least half of their money up front. When they leave town, sometimes without ever showing up for one day of the job, you are out the cash and still have a storm damaged roof.
Finding a Qualified Roofer
To ensure that your home is repaired quickly and correctly, it is important to choose a professional and qualified company for the job. A few ways to make sure that your roofing company is legit:
Never do business with someone who comes to you. Legitimate roofing companies do not need to canvas neighborhoods looking for customers.
Ask for a physical address. If someone one wants to work on your roof, you need to know where to find them if there is a problem.
Ask about licensing and insurance. Many states license roofers and require that they carry insurance. Your roofing company should be able to tell you about local requirements and how they have fulfilled them. If you’re selling in the future, the last thing you’ll want is for an unpermitted repair to be discovered in an inspection that hinders the sale.
Ask for references. The roof of your home is one of its most important features. Make sure that the person who you work with has a track record full of satisfied customers.
Protecting Your Home and Your Future
Roofing repair may be an investment, but it’s one of those areas where acting soon is a good idea — the cost of damages due to a damaged roof can really add up. A qualified professional roofer can do the job right to ensure that pests and the elements cannot get inside. By taking a cautious route, you can ensure that all problems are addressed and that your home is protected from further damage.
Greg Geilman REALTOR®
President and CEO, South Bay Residential
Greg Geilman is a Los Angeles native of over 40 years and owner of South Bay Residential.