Florida roofs take a beating during hurricanes, tropical storms and severe weather.
If your roof is damaged by high winds, heavy rain or lightning, you’re likely not alone.
Locally, the region’s established roofing companies will assemble strike teams capable of making immediate repairs and scheduling out projects for the weeks and months ahead. Unfortunately, these respected and licensed companies won’t be alone.
Out-of-area, and even out-of-state, roofing contractors often descend upon neighborhoods and communities after a major weather event, hoping to make a quick buck. They have no local employees, no local office and no local history. To them, you are not a customer. You are a dollar sign.
Storm chasers present a major problem in the roofing industry. They recognize that property managers and homeowners can’t get back to normal until their roof is fixed, and they want it repaired right away. An urgent need – whether it’s hunger, shopping or a roof repair – can lead to irrational decisions. Dishonest contractors hope to capitalize on that.
There are, however, tell-tale signs that a roofing contractor might be a storm chaser:
Knock on the door
Work crews – the roofers who physically install roofs – do not knock on doors soliciting business. The old line is “we were in the neighborhood” and they just happen to have time and materials for another project. Close the door. If someone does come door to door, it should be a member of the professional sales team in a uniform with the company logo. Legitimate roofing companies also have their own fleet of vehicles and equipment that should display the company name and logo.
Roofing companies stay busy year-round with new construction, planned replacements and annual maintenance. After a severe thunderstorm or tropical system, they are inundated with requests for service and crews often work 12-, 14- and even 16-hour days. If you don’t have a roofing contractor on retainer or a past relationship, a company with immediate openings likely is not well-respected or they just drove down from another part of the state or country.
Roofing is an occupation that requires registration and licensure through the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation. The state makes it easy to affirm a contractor’s status. Just visit MyFloridaLicense.com and click “Verify a License.” The portal should show “Certified Roofing Contractor” as the license type.
Just because roofers are headquartered in Orlando or Jacksonville, for example, doesn’t automatically qualify them as storm chasers. If they are licensed in Florida, they are legally allowed to work anywhere in the state, and some companies travel to disaster zones for the right reason, which is to help residents and businesses get back on their feet. The key is long-term commitment to that region. If a contractor doesn’t have a local office or local employees on the payroll, there is nothing to keep them in town after the job is done, and if you have a problem down the line, they won’t be there to fix it.
Avoid contractors whose prices are significantly lower or higher than competitors. Florida’s price gouging laws have curtailed outrageously high post-storm repair estimates, but low estimates might indicate a roofing company is using substandard materials or unskilled labor to trim its costs, or might spring “unexpected” costs on you midway through the repair. Down payments often are required, but contractors should never ask you to pay for the entire project upfront.
Roofing contractors have experience with damage reports and insurance policies, but the only one who can tell you how much of a repair will be covered by insurance is the insurance company itself. Dishonest contractors might overestimate the amount that insurance will pay to convince you to sign a contract, but you’re on the hook for any shortfall when the insurance company issues its check.