The recovery effort from the damage caused by Hurricane Michael and Florence is sure to be a difficult road for many homeowners seeking to repair or rebuild.
Unfortunately, the challenge can be made that much harder by less-than-reputable opportunists and con artists who sometimes prey on unsuspecting homeowners, especially at a time when the demand for contractors is high. It’s a danger the Metal Roofing Alliance (MRA) is warning homeowners about, especially as re-roofing activity spikes in areas like Florida, Georgia and the Carolinas.
“It’s tragic to hear stories of homeowners, who are already suffering and stressed, being preyed upon by unethical business practices,” says Renee Ramey, MRA executive director. “It is vital that homeowners take the necessary steps to protect themselves and their investment to ensure a job well done.”
Metal roofing is in high demand in hurricane-prone regions, due to its durability and protection against heavy rain, hailstones and hurricane force winds. Yet Ramey reminds homeowners that a roof, no matter what the type, is only as good as the contractor or company that sells and installs it.
“Beware of inferior material from unknown sources that some unscrupulous installers try to pass off at a discount,” Ramey says. “A good quality metal roof is made to stand the test of time and designed to offer outstanding protection. It should have verifiable warranties, superior coatings, proper gauge and thickness for residential use and be sourced from reputable manufacturers. Contractors also should warranty their work and be able to prove their experience and knowledge.”
As a nonprofit organization, Metal Roofing Alliance helps homeowners find installers by working with member metal roofing manufacturers, who vet contractors before they are qualified to become a MRA member. Even so, patience and persistence are key. In times of high demand and massive rebuilding and repair needs, lead times for reputable contractors can be long and many are booked. However, to make sure a job is done well, it can be worth the wait. MRA advises that before a metal roofing project starts, questions for homeowners to ask include:
- Where is the metal roofing material manufactured?
- What type of metal is it and what protective coatings does it have?
- What kind of product and installation warranties are offered, are they transferable and how long is the product guaranteed to last?
- What verifiable safety, performance and environmental standards, testing and regulations do the manufacturer adhere to?
- What type of performance ratings does the product have for conditions such as severe weather and fire protection?
- What customer service support does the manufacturer offer should an issue, problem or question arises?
- How long has the manufacturer and installer been in business? What is their track record?
- Does the manufacturer have favorable reviews from other customers and credible, third-party business rating organizations?
- Are they members of industry-leading trade organizations, such as the MRA?
In general, disaster recovery organizations caution homeowners to be suspicious of any contractor who demands cash or full payment upfront; has no physical address or identification; steers you to a specific lender or tries to act as the intermediary by asking to file insurance claims on your behalf; or wants your personal financial information prior to starting the repair or lending process. Always make sure any contractor or roofer is licensed and insured; verify their web and physical address; ask for references; get cost estimates, schedules and other agreements in writing; ensure they have the right permits and try to get at least three different quotes to compare before starting the project. FEMA also offers homeowners in disaster recovery areas additional tips to help avoid scams.