The Small Business Association has some harrowing statistics about roofing companies. They report that 80% of roofing companies fail within the first 2 years, and after 5 years, that number rises to a shocking 96%.
In this article, we'll explain why so many roofers fail, and we'll tell you what to look for to make sure you are choosing a company that is not only reputable and trustworthy, but will also be around for years to come.
What do most homeowner's think of when they think of roofing companies? It probably invokes a sense of distrust, because your roof is a large investment and an extremely important part of your home, yet the average homeowner knows very little about it.
You're supposed to trust what a roofer tells you is necessary, be it large scale repairs or a total roof replacement, often coming in at tens of thousands of dollars. How can you be sure you're getting the best possible advice, or even the right advice?
Did you know the roofing industry has more complaints against them with the Better Business Bureau than any other type of business? But why?
Right at the top of the list of why the roofing industry has such a bad reputation is that many customers are just simply not satisfied. Many roofing contractors treat their customers poorly, in addition to not completing the work to the homeowner's satisfaction.
Poor quality work is definitely a major issue in the roofing industry. Roofs are not cheap! Many contractors will cut corners to be able to give cheaper quotes and pocket more money. You'll see tons of negative reviews not only about a poorly completed job, but sloppy work usually goes hand in hand with messy job sites. Think your lawn covered in nails, shingles, plywood, and other debris - all left behind for you to deal with. This is definitely not something any homeowner wants.
Another common complaint roofers get is that the companies and workers are poorly managed. Workers may show up to a job site with little to no direction, and have to wait around for a project manager to show up. It's never a good look to a homeowner to have a crew standing around not doing anything - especially when you're paying for their time.
This is a scary word for any homeowner, especially given the scope and the cost of most roofing jobs. No one wants to think their money or the integrity of their home is at risk, but the unfortunate truth is that there are untrustworthy people out there, and they do prey on vulnerable homeowners.
The most common scam to be on alert for as it relates to roofing is Storm Chasers. What are Storm Chasers though? These are contractors who push work on people after a large storm or natural disaster hits an area. These companies are usually very short-lived, and they target people who are in desperate need of roof repair. These companies will offer cheap work at a time when it is desperately needed, but the work you'll get is just that: cheap. It's low quality work that won't last very long, and that's pending they don't just scam you out of your money entirely.
Beware of anyone who comes knocking on your door promising work at a price that seems too good to be true. Especially in the wake of a storm that has caused widespread damage. One of the most important things you can do to protect yourself in this area is knowing what to look for in a roofing estimate.
Like we touched on already, there are plenty of roofing contractors who just want to make a quick buck. They will lowball other roofing companies in the area, providing you with what appears to be the best value for your money. Why is this so dangerous to you as a homeowner?
Needing your roof repaired or replaced can be stressful enough at it is. The absolute last thing you want is to get the work done for what you think is a good price only to have it fail on you, and you need to call in another company to redo what the first contractor did.
A large part of the reason these contractors are able to charge so much less than other companies is because they simply are not charging enough to get the job done correctly. Always take the lowest price with a grain of salt, especially when it comes to contractors. A quote that's significantly lower than other companies is a huge red flag.
What on earth is ghost insurance? It's definitely not what you want your contractor to have, or rather not have. Ghost insurance is the practice of carrying only a paper that says a company has an insurance policy. What does that policy actually cover? Nothing and no one. It simply exists to fulfill a state's requirements of operating a business.
Why would anyone carry such a thing? Workman's Comp and Liability Insurance are expensive, and many unscrupulous roofers get around this cost by carrying ghost insurance. This means if your contractor has ghost insurance and an accident occurs during your roofing job that damages your property or injures a worker, it's not covered.
Another way contractors may try to cut costs is with cheap labor. Workers with certifications and up to date training come with a higher price tag, because they spend time and money learning how to do their job properly. Workers with little to no training are much cheaper, and will complete cheaper work as a result. This leaves you as the homeowner with a poorly completed job, and little to no recourse for it, since the company that performed it likely doesn't care, and won't stand by their workmanship or warranty, if they even have one at all.
Cheap quotes mean cheap materials, there's no way around this one. Even if your contractor promises you quality, if their cost doesn't reflect what they're promising, be wary. This is another huge way that companies that are simply interested in turning a profit cut corners and leave you in the lurch. These materials are cheaper for a reason - they won't hold up long, and they rapidly deteriorate making your home prone to damage and leaks.
What should you be on the lookout for to keep your home safe and know you are getting work you can trust? Here are a few things:
- Insurance - ask that your roofer provide proof of insurance, and make sure that if you move forward with any roofing work that you are an added insured
- Bad Reviews - in today's digital age, the best tool you have at your disposal is the internet. Properly vet any company you are considering working with by checking their reviews on google, yelp, etc. If they have a significant number of bad reviews, there's probably a good reason.
- Extremely Low Prices - we've said it before and we'll say it again: extremely low prices from a roofing contractor are a red flag. If a company is hanging it's hat on their low quotes and not the quality of their completed jobs, it's probably best you look for another roofing company.
- They're A New Company - while this in itself isn't a reason to not work with a roofing company, (everyone starts somewhere!) it can be another huge red flag when coupled with anything else on this list.
Now that we've covered the warning signs to be on the lookout for - what green flags are there that a roofing company you're thinking of working with is a good choice?
First and foremost - good reviews are always a great sign. It says a lot about a company when people are willing to take the time to write positive feedback. A company with good reviews and positive testimonials says that a company cares about their customers and provides them with an overall positive experience - which is exactly what you want.
Any good roofing company will have both licensing and insurance - and they will happily provide you the proof of both. A company that is licensed and certified actually says a lot, because many states don't require roofers to be licensed in order to conduct business, so the licensing and certification are optional and additional expenses and training that a roofer will take to show consumers they are trustworthy.
This may seem like a strange thing to look for in a roofing company - why should you care if they have a good online presence? It's simple - a well defined website means that the company took time and effort to invest in their branding and establishing their company. This is a good sign they aren't a company that's just out to make quick money, and that they care about building trust and being around long-term.
This is a big one. If you are comparing quotes from different companies, you should be able to tell which ones are the most established and trustworthy companies out of the bunch. A good quote will have terms, options, change order items, warranty and payment information, and more. It will be several pages and will clearly outline the work to be done and the breakdown of cost.
How a roofing company handles your initial interaction says a lot about them overall. If you get a friendly and knowledgeable person on the phone quickly who is able to answer your questions and get you an inspection and a quote in a timely manner - chances are they're a caring and professional company. Pay attention to how you're treated and the time it takes to get a response or a call-back, as these are good indicators of how the company is run overall.
At Colony Roofers, we know that it can be stressful sifting through all the roofing contractors out there. We have a list of the top roofers in Atlanta - so even if you don't choose Colony Roofers you can be sure you are choosing someone you can trust.
We've been in business a long time, and we know that goes a long way - we're proud to be a name you can trust in the roofing industry, and we are always standing by with a friendly and knowledgeable staff ready to answer your questions. We offer free 30 minute inspections, where we can determine your exact needs and help you make the best decision for you and your home.