The hail that battered roofs in Southeast Georgia recently did more than just damage shingles and gutters. It left homeowners vulnerable to scam artists who prey upon people who want their roofs repaired quickly and cheaply.
“Roofers in the state of Georgia are not required to have licenses,” said John Reynolds, president of RPI, a roofing company in Richmond Hill that serves residential, commercial and industrial clients. “As a result, many out-of-state roofers will descend upon storm-battered areas with professional sales teams to convince unwitting homeowners that they can repair their roofs for less. Unfortunately, what oftentimes happens is that the work is completed without warranties, and the storm chasers leave town with no one left to stand behind their work.”
According to the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, hail is one of the costliest natural disasters facing Americans each year. In the United States alone, hail causes an average of $1.6 billion worth of damage per year to residential roofs.
Most homeowners are eager to have their roofs repaired after a hailstorm. But before hiring a roofer who makes promises that sound too good to be true, consider the following tips from the Roofing and Sheet Metal Contractors Association of Georgia:
• Ask for referrals. Ask friends and associates for the name of a roofer with whom they have had a good experience.
• Hire a local contractor if at all possible. Contact your local, state or national roofing association for referrals.
• Get a written estimate, and be sure to read the fine print. Always get estimates from several reputable roofing contractors before making a decision, and insist on the details. Don’t accept a price alone.
• Obtain references and check them. Ask for references from the roofing contractor and a listing of jobs he has done in your area in the past year or two.
• Check years in business. Ask how long the roofer has been in business and verify the information with the Georgia Secretary of State Corporations Division at www.sos.ga.gov/Corporations.
• Obtain proof of insurance. Make sure your contractor carries general liability insurance, workers’ compensation and is bonded. If the contractor does not have property and casualty insurance (general liability) and workers’ compensation insurance, you may be liable for damages he may cause or injuries to himself or his employees. Ask for a certificate of insurance with you named as the certificate holder.
• Get guarantees in writing. Ask for a copy of the roofing contractor’s warranty for materials and workmanship – usually one to two years. This binds the contractor to repair any leaks caused by his workmanship or the failure of the materials for the most critical period. Most problems with a new roof will show up in the first year or two.
• Ask for a written contract. A complete contract clearly should state all the work to be performed, all associated costs, the payment schedule and obligate the contractor to pay for all materials ordered for the job.
• Pay by check. Avoid paying in advance and making payments in cash if at all possible.
• Make final payments only when the work is completed. Do not sign completion papers or make the final payment until the work is completed to your satisfaction. A reputable contractor will not pressure you to sign if the job is not properly finished.
For more information, call 756-ROOF (7663), email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.rpiroof.com.