Roof Repair Rip Offs: The Storm Chasers Want to Fix Your Roof, Then Retire Rich

I have a roof made from recycled rubber tires. It has a 50 year warranty. Never mind that the company who manufactured it is no longer in business, it’s a great roof and totally hail-proof. In fact, hail bounces off. Which is why I am loving the 25 plus roofers who have knocked on my door these past few weeks, ever since that wild hail storm we had June 13. At least ten more have called. Here’s what happens:

Door: Ding dong —

CE: Hello?

Roofie Roofer: Hi ma’am hey I noticed you have some roof damage. I’m a roofer doing some work in your neighborhood and would love to give you a free roof inspection. You know, your insurance will pay for it. You can have a brand new roof.

CE: OK, so where’s the damage?

Roofie Roofer: Um, well, I need to go up and inspect it. All your neighbors have damage so you likely do, too.

CE: Un huh. So what kind of roof do I have?

Roofie: Um, I don’t know. I ain’t never seen a roof like this –are those Shake tiles?

CE: It’s a roof make from rubber tires. It’s hail proof.

Roofie: You don’t say! I ain’t never seen one of these. Rubber tires!

CE: Hail bounces off it. My skylights may be demolished, but the roof is just fine, thank you. Besides, if you don’t even know what kind of a roof I have, how can you fix it???

I have chatted these guys up. One was a former Realtor, most were from out of town, one was a plumber, none had been around for more than about two seconds except the one guy who claims to have been doing roofs in Dallas since 2005.

Storm chasers is what they are called, says Dallas home builder Michael Turner of Urban Classic Homes. After a storm hits, they come out of the woodwork looking for work.

And work they find: it looks like everyone in Dallas is getting a new roof.

“We ride our bikes a lot and go down Northaven, to hit the Katy trail and the other side of Hillcrest,” says home builder and re-modeler Matthew Thomas. “It’s insane with roofer signs. There’s one on every other house.”

Most come from out of state, says Matthew, and are in and out of town like an illegitimate relative on Dallas. Quality home builders know this for a fact: most free-lance roofers can be pretty slimey.

There is so much business one roofer paid off all his outstanding bankruptcy debt in one month — $200,000, all made after June 13.

I have always wondered why we can’t have a bit more regulation of these sub-contractors.  State Insurance Commissioner Eleanor Kitzman says that Texas has one of the highest rates of fraud in the roofing repair industry. This is due, she says, to a lack of state regulation over roofing contractors. According to a recent piece in the Dallas Morning News, the storm damaged an estimated 35,000 homes, this according according to Mark Hanna, spokesman for the Insurance Council of Texas. (I think that’s conservative.) According to the News,  hardest-hit areas include the landmark districts of Swiss Avenue, Munger Place and Junius Heights where damage was so extensive that the city’s Historic Preservation Section set up a temporary satellite/paperwork/red tape office at the Lakewood branch library.Hanna says the Austin trade group’s estimate of total damage to property and vehicles is $1.2 billion.

Translation: get ready for our homeowner’s insurance policies to skyrocket.

Freelancer Tim Tune did a nice job on this story, giving consumers sound advice to avoid being ripped off. First and foremost, do not hire these storm-chasers who ring your doorbell! Keep them away from your roof! Some have even been known to get up on the roof and create trouble by using a coin, pocket knife, or even a fingernail to cause damage. Tell them to take a hike or post your “No Solicitation” sign where they can see it. If you need a roofer, call the Dallas Home Builder’s Association of Dallas, the new name for the Home Builder’s Association (HBA) of Dallas. Their number:  (972) 931-4840.

In case you are not behind the DMN paywall, here are a few more take-aways:

-Remember that Texas has one of the highest rates of fraud in the roofing repair industry due to a serious lack of state regulation over roofing contractors.

-If the roofer screws up your roof, you have little recourse.

-It’s easy to become a roofing contractor. All you have to do is register with the city as a registered contractor. That means you get a Dallas building permit for each job, which is required for roofing work valued at $500 or more: piece of cake.

-If you suspect roof damage, call your Insurance company and ask them to send an appraiser/inspector over.

– If you can do so without killing yourself, take pictures of your roof before the adjuster or a contractor examines it, advises Angie Hicks, founder of Angie’s List, the paid-subscription online service that offers reviews of contractors and other businesses. Angie’s list is one of the few directories out there that does not list trades just because they advertise, as many magazines do.

-If you have build or recently remodeled your home, call your contractor.

“We’ll send someone out even if we built the home fifteen years ago,” says luxury home builder Mickey Munir.

Also, Candy’s builders warn you NOT to get your roof repaired right now unless you are leaking: turns out the manufacturers or distributors jack the prices up because they know people are getting nice, big, fat insurance checks.

“I got a quote from a good roofer we use all the time and his quote was three times what it was five years ago for the SAME ROOF!” says Michael Munir. “I think if you don’t have leaks it’s best to sit and wait for the now fat-and-happy roofers to get a little lean and hungry.”






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