Watch Out For Sharks!!!
Today is a bit of a rant. I do not usually rant publicly, though the people who know me best know I can rant and rave with the best of them. It is a family sport to be able to debate and intelligently argue your point of view. The family I grew up in thinks deeply about things and feels passionately about most everything. So allow me for a brief blog post to make my dad proud…..
We have had an early hail storm here in North Central Texas. And before the ground was dry and the hail had melted roofing crews from across the United States descended on Fort Worth. Homeowners were just coming to grips with what had happened when they were inundated by roofing crews going to door to door in the hardest hit neighborhoods. These are what we call “sharks.” And it is roofing companies like these that influenced our name as Lighthouse. A lighthouse is a safe harbor in rough and rocky waters. And the roofing game is the worst rocky, shark infested waters I have ever swam in.
Some companies are legitimate and have a bottom line that must be fed and some companies are here to only get your insurance money. I expect to have phone calls from homeowners within 3 months saying they hired a company who took a deposit and then never showed up to do their roof, homeowners in tears because they do not have the means to repair their roof without that insurance money. Then in the next 4 to 6 months I will receive phone calls from homeowners who roofs were installed improperly and have failed and the company they hired is no longer in Texas. So that 10 year warranty that sounded so good is not worth the paper it is written on. It is buyer beware and you better do your homework.
In the storm our roof got totaled. We called our insurance company and had an adjuster come out who promptly totaled our roof. The funny thing about all of this is that the adjuster, who was only on my roof for less than 30 minutes and did no repairs, is licensed through the State of Texas. And if that adjuster does something funny you can report them to the state and their licensing is at risk. But your roofing company is not licensed. Texas does not license roofing contractors. In fact we have tried to get just a general contracting license and that is not available either in the State of Texas. It is time for our state to license contractors who perform services on your home. If the state required licensing and you were ripped off you would have recourse against that roofing company. And when we have hail storms not every man who owns a truck and a ladder would be in the roofing industry all of a sudden. If the state licensed roofing contractors our motels would not be full to the brim right now with roofing contractors from 5 states over.
So what is a homeowner to do? Well let me give you 10 tips to help you gauge whether the contractor you are thinking about hiring is a “shark” or one of the good guys:
- Check the companies online reputation. Today if you do shoddy work then someone is going to tell Google, Yahoo, and Bing. Even good contractors from time to time will have negative reviews, but for the most part does this company have a good online reputation? If they have no online reputation that is a huge red flag and actually worse than a bad reputation. This is a good indication that they are sharks.
- Here is a good tip I picked up from the Fort Worth Star Telegram: Check their driver’s license. If they have an out of state license that could be an indication that this contractor is a shark.
- Make sure the company has a physical address not a P.O. Box. A P.O. Box, again can be an indication that this is a shark.
- If they say they they are licensed then they have lied. The State of Texas does not license roofing contractors. If they will lie about their licensing, what else will they lie about? This could be a shark.
- Get local references. This is like point #1, but anybody who has been here for a little while will have references for you to call. And do call them and ask what they liked and disliked about the company.
- Ask for proof of liability insurance. This is not something the state requires, but you can require as the homeowner.
- Never, never, never pay anything up front!!!!
- Always get a contract in writing of exactly what is going to happen and who is responsible for what.
- Companies that say they will work with your insurance company or pay your deductible are committing insurance fraud. I spoke with a lawyer to be sure about this point and there absolutely no way around the homeowner being responsible for their deductible. Any company that is routinely waving deductibles as part of their business practice is not an ethical company and you should be aware. After all, if they are willing to steal from the insurance company won’t they be willing to steal from you?
- Finally, do not hire anyone who knocks on your door after a storm. These are definitely sharks!!! There is no reason someone needs to come knock on your door the day after a storm. You need to contact your insurance company, have an adjuster out, and then hire a contractor if you have a claim.
I hope that this is helpful to you and thank you for letting me rant.