The thunderous sound of hail beating down on your home makes you wince. 

When the storms pass and damage is done, you face an entirely different kind of problem…choosing an honest, reliable and professional contractor to fix or replace their hail damaged roof. 

One of my client’s recently said, “We have more roofers on our doorstep than we can possibly talk to. They’re all trying to get us to sign something without being clear about what we’re actually getting.” 

Here are seven common mistakes most homeowners make, and the steps you can take to avoid them.

1. They don’t get an upfront quote for the cost of repair.

Nearly all service providers offer a same-day estimated cost of repair. But shady roofing companies do not.

Instead, they’ll ask to see your insurance estimate before giving you a service quote. Why? When they know how much insurance is paying you to replace your roof, they’re able to pad their pockets at your expense.

For example, let’s say it will cost $10,000 (materials and labor) to replace your storm-damaged roof. Your insurance adjuster comes out and gives you a check for $12,000 to complete the work. There is a $2,000 difference between the actual cost and your reimbursed amount. 

Hey, that’s great! That extra $2,000 could cover your claim deductible or help you pay for other related damage. So instead of having to spend money out of your own pocket, you might even repair all of your damage at no cost to you. 

That roofing company knows this. When they don’t give you an upfront quote, they plan to adjust their bid based on your reimbursement amount. So instead of installing a new roof for $10,000, they’ll quote $12,000. In this new scenario, the $2,000 difference that would have gone to you is used to pad their profits. You get $0.

Always get an upfront quote at the time of inspection! If a company does not provide one, it’s a red flag!

If they ask to see your insurance estimate before giving you a quote, that’s another red flag. Move on to a reputable company whose cost is reliant on your insurance reimbursement amount. 

2. They give to the pressure to sign documents.

One of my recent clients told me, “Roofing companies, and we talked to several, seemed to be unable to explain things clearly in regard to costs. Most did a quick inspection and then wanted to talk to us about how much the insurance company was going to give us. They said we will get you a roof for what the insurance company gives you. Very unclear, seemed shady. Insisted that we sign something for them. Too much pressure, too little confidence in them.

Following a hail storm, it can be exhausting to sit through numerous pitches from roofers who canvas hard hit neighborhoods. 

Remember that their primary goal isn’t always to help you, answer any questions and encourage you to compare their knowledge and expertise to other companies. They simply want you to sign their document! Today! Now! Before they leave your home.

Don’t sign anything until you’ve done your homework, feel good about the information being shared and they have met every criteria shared in this guide.

3. They disclose their insurance information before work is complete.

Many contractors will ask to see your insurance estimate before work begins. Or they might tell you that they’ll handle the entire claim for you. This is the quickest way to lose leverage. It’s like laying your poker hand face up on the table. 

At first glance, the “generosity” seems like an added service. In reality, it’s just a way for the company to maximize profits.

Protect your information and estimate. It’s irrelevant to the sale. Make sure you’re included in all communications between your contractor and your insurance company.

Your relationship with your insurance carrier is separate from that of your contractor. You do not have to disclose any insurance documents or estimates for work to be completed.

Again, if a roofer asks to see your insurance paperwork, it’s a red flag

4. They agree to a "good faith" down payment before work begins.

You’ve likely heard a scenario similar to this common occurrence. A homeowner pays a contractor half upfront for “materials.” Months later, the work still hasn’t begun and the contractor doesn’t answer his phone and doesn’t return any text messages. 

Your money is gone. 

This is the number one reason why people are distrustful of contractors.

Never, ever, ever pay a contractor for incomplete work. Even if you signed an agreement and think you’re protected, your contract is in the hands of someone you’ll never see or hear from again.

You don’t want to endure the headaches, stress and time off of work pursuing money you will never see again. And you certainly don’t want to risk hiring another distrustful company!

A roofing company should never ask for a down payment. If they do, it’s a major red flag. Fire them and hire a company that does not! A reputable company has enough equity to complete a job without any money down. 

5. They don’t verify their contractor’s insurance coverage.

Being on a roof is dangerous. One small slip or misstep and a contractor can fall and get seriously injured. If a roofing company does not carry their own insurance, the homeowner will be liable for damages under their own policy.

Request a copy of a company’s insurance certificate. But don’t stop there. More than 60% of roof contractors say they carry insurance and do not. Call the roofer’s insurance company to verify that the policy is active and in good standing. The absolute last thing you want to do is to have to deal with more insurance paperwork. 

6. They don’t choose a local roofing company.

There are hundreds of roofing companies across North Texas. After a major hail storm or weather event, that number can double. It’s hard to identify which companies are from out of town. But you have to! Here’s why.

  • Inexperienced estimators – Storm chasing companies send sales people to affected areas quickly. That means the person who got on your roof and told you that it was damaged could have been trained to inspect a roof last week. Your roof is a $10,000+ expense. Do you want to put your home in the hands of a rookie or someone who has been on more than 5,000 inspections?
  • Short-term solutions – A company might fix a mistake within the first few weeks but what good is a lifetime warranty on your roof if the company isn’t around in a year? They could be off to a new city while you’re stuck with the stress of finding a new roofing company.
  • You’re just a number – Have you ever felt like you’re a number and not a name? Non-local companies focus on quantity over quality. They need to fulfill work quickly. Established companies have the experienced roofers while out-of-towners throw together contract workers who are likely to be lower skilled.

Having a local address isn’t enough. Anybody can rent an address or create a shell “office” to mislead homeowners into thinking they’re a local company. Request and contact many references (from before the date of the storm) to verify customer experiences and satisfaction levels.

7. They don't hire a seasoned contractor.

In Texas, anybody can get on your roof, tell you that it’s damaged and offer to repair it for you. After the homeowner claim is validated by your insurance company, who you choose to fulfill the work is up to you. Like most high-ticket items, you want to entrust your home under the care and supervision of someone who has the following:

  • Industry expertise – Certified professionals go through extensive training and can identify details that inexperienced roofers cannot. An experienced estimator can identify roof, fence, gutter, siding, window and other forms of damage, ensuring that you’re claim covers 100% of actual damage.
  • Client management ability – If there are on-the-job problems or issues with materials delivery, an experienced roofing manager can react quickly and efficiently. They have the network, relationships and knowledge to keep your project on time and budget.
  • Ability to identify and rectify real-time issues – More important than identifying damage is understanding how to replace it. A seasoned contractor is trained to inspect a job once it’s completed. That way, if there are any issues, it can be fixed immediately.

8. They let their insurance adjuster/company do the hiring.

Personal recommendations are helpful, but they should only be considered when hiring a roofing company. In fact, some insurance adjusters simply defer to their “preferred vendors” list when making a recommendation. A preferred vendors list is filled with companies that pay to be referred. They are not pre-screened or there by merit.

When I was an insurance adjuster, I heard of more problems and issues from these “preferred” vendors than those that were not on the list.