Hearing you have a faulty roof over your head can indeed be a big worry. But beware of the source of the roof repair advice. High-pressure, high-panic pitches that evolve from unsolicited calls or scheduled visits by service people all have the same target: your wallet. In particular, watch out for the following three common rooftop rip-off scams:
Roofing replacement: Don’t get left without a lid or one too many layers of shingles by a scam artist masquerading as a roofing repair contractor. A true professional doesn’t show up (or climb up) unannounced, but is instead found through customer referrals and will provide a thorough assessment of repair needs, an appropriate recommendation for work to be done, and a detailed estimate for your review and approval.
Whatever roof repair is really needs depends on its age, the roofing material present, the number of existing layers of roofing, and the length of time you plan to stay in your home. Adding a layer can sometimes do more damage than good, and starting all over with a new roof may be completely unnecessary.
Chimney sweep scams: Between the limited equipment needed to do the job and the very real dangers of chimney neglect, it’s unfortunately pretty easy for unscrupulous chimney-cleaning contractors to stay in business.
They’ll typically launch into the standard, reasonably priced annual inspection and cleaning and then “discover” that your chimney desperately needs a new liner or other major safety fix, the kind of projects that end up lining their own pockets with thousands of dollars.
Don’t fall for this scam. It’s best to start out by hiring a highly recommended, experienced sweep certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA). However, if you cross paths with one who isn’t, forgo any recommended repairs until an unbiased expert such as a professional home inspector can make their own assessment.
Getting gutsy with gutters: Most gutter systems will keep rainwater moving in the right direction with simple cleaning and maintenance, which can be handled by the homeowner or a trusted contractor on a seasonal basis. If you’re taking care of what you already have, sales pitches for so-called clog free systems, gutter guards and other add-ons will be far easier to resist.
Your roof is one of your most important structural elements of any building. But to avoid scams, proceed cautiously when any contractor recommends a roof repair to make sure that your roof really needs the work that is recommended.