INDIANAPOLIS – With spring here and severe weather already affecting neighborhoods in central Indiana, the Better Business Bureau is offering advice on hiring a trustworthy roofing contractor.

Springtime and severe weather always bring out “shady” roofing contractors who are looking to scam or take advantage of homeowners with storm damage to their roof.  So-called “storm chaser” roofers may just happen to be on your street when they notice the signs of damage to your home.  That’s a red flag.  

Another suspicious sign is when a roofer knocks on your door and says they have extra shingles from their last job and they can offer you a good deal.

The BBB recently posted these six tips to help you before you sign anything:

  • Make sure you understand the full scope of the project. What exactly is the roofer going to do? Will they be doing spot repairs or replacing the whole roof? Will they be removing the old roof or covering it with the new roof? Ensure you understand the solutions’ pros and cons and that everything is detailed in your contract.
  • Ask about clean-up and waste removal. Confirm that your contractor will be responsible for taking away all old materials and cleaning up your site after their work is complete.
  • Consider your gutters and landscaping. A roofing job will require ladders that can cause damage when leaned against your gutters or stuck in your landscaping. How will your roofer protect against damage or fix things after the job?
  • Plan for bad weather. What happens if there is bad weather while your roof project is underway? Ask your roofer about what they will do to protect your home in the case of rain or snow.
  • Check your insurance coverage. If your project is for fixing the damage, check your homeowner’s insurance to see if your project is covered and how you should proceed if it is. (You also want to check your contractor’s insurance coverage for worker’s compensation, property damage, and personal liability.)
  • Different contractors for different roofing systems. Roofing contractors may be certified to install specific types of roofs. You can check with the manufacturer to see if your contractor is certified for their system.

Before you enter into any agreement, the BBB says your estimate or proposal should include the following:

  • The type of roof covering, manufacturer, and color
  • Materials to be included in the work, e.g., underlayment, ice dam protection membrane
  • Scope of work to be done
  • Removal or replacement of the existing roof 
  • Flashing work, e.g., existing flashings to be replaced or re-used, adding new flashing, flashing metal type 
  • Ventilation work, e.g., adding new vents
  • Who is responsible for repairing/replacing exterior landscape or interior finishes damaged during the work? Ensure that it contains language addressing who is responsible for any damage that occurs due to the work. 
  • All items of concern and work to be done should be included in the contract.
  • Installation method
  • Approximate starting and completion dates
  • Payment procedures
  • Length of warranty and what is covered, e.g., workmanship, water leakage
  • Who will haul away the old roofing materials and/or project waste (e.g., extra materials, packaging, etc.)? Is there an extra charge for this service?

The BBB’s website also includes tips on how to extend the life of your roof:

  • Clear dead or overhanging branches. Have a professional tree service evaluate the branches hanging over your roof and decide whether or not they are a risk. If the branches are dead, that increases the chance of them falling onto your roof. In addition, heavily shaded areas of your roof can retain moisture, which sometimes leads to mold. Regular trimmings of overhanging branches will help your roof dry uniformly.
  • Inspect for hail damage. After strong storms, especially hailstorms, have a licensed insurance adjuster or contractor inspect your roof. Dimples and cracks on the shingles are key indicators that hail damage has occurred.
  • Keep your eyes and ears open and remove debris. Homeowners should inspect their roofs regularly and monitor for hail damage. The homeowner can do ground-level inspections. You should also keep your gutters clear. If debris needs to be removed, call a professional or be very cautious when getting up on your roof.

The BBB has much more information on home improvement scams.  You can also report a scam at the BBB Scam Tracker.