Finding a good contractor – one that you can trust to keep your best interests in mind – is incredibly important no matter the home repair project. Choosing the wrong contractor may even end up costing you more than money in the end, it can lead to delayed completion of projects, poor workmanship and even legal problems.
So, how can homeowners and building owners work to choose a legitimate contractor? We have a few tips from the Denver District Attorney that may help:
- Tip 1: BEWARE of contractors who use high-pressure or scare tactics to get you to make an immediate decision.
- Tip 2: DON’T do business with someone who comes to your door offering a deal because they say they have materials left over from another job.
- Tip 3: Ask for and verify the contractor’s license number (you can confirm with your city or county’s building department where the home or building resides that the license number was issued by them and is current).
- Tip 4: Get at least 3 written bids. DON’T always choose the lowest bidder – almost all complaints to the DA’s office are contractors with very low bids.
- Tip 5: Require the contractor to use a written contract that lists materials to be used, as well as charges and costs, and the completion date.
- Tip 6: Pay little or nothing in advance. Pay only the cost of materials as outlined in the contract in advance, then pay the balance only when you are satisfied, and the job has been approved by a building inspector.
- Tip 7: Ask the contractor to show you proof that he is bonded, carries liability insurance, and covers his workers with workers compensation insurance.
Information provided by:
Denver District Attorney
Fraud Hot Line 720-913-9179
DENVER — After all the hail this week, many homeowners are assessing the damage, meeting with insurance adjusters and contractors. So how do you protect yourself from scams and liability issues?
John Crawmer, a safety services supervisor with Pinnacol Assurance, has a few tips. “Be wary of somebody who just knocks on the door,” he said.
He points out it’s important to hire a reputable company that is licensed, bonded and has a certificate of insurance.
He says, if the worker falls off the roof, and the company they are working for does not have the requisite insurance programs in place, you as the homeowner could be liable for that injury, and covering the cost associated with medical, lost wages and other liabilities.
Those costs can really add up. In 2017, Pinnacol processed claims for 722 workers injured in roofing accidents. The average cost was about $20,000, but two claims were for more than $1 million. “We`ve had folks that have fallen off two-story buildings and had fatal consequences,” Crawmer said.
To protect yourself:
- Be wary of contractors who contact you through social media
- Make sure contractors wear proper safety gear
- Don’t pay in full up front
- Get more than one estimate
- Partner with your insurance or the Colorado Roofing Association to find reputable companies
A group of nonprofit, government, and business organizations are working together to fight roofing contractor fraud in Colorado with a new public education campaign called No Roof Scams.
The campaign’s goal is to sound an alarm during severe weather season about the spike in roofing fraud and arm Colorado homeowners with information to protect themselves against being victimized by roofing scams. Help us spread the word by using #NoRoofScams and sharing anti-fraud advice, resources and messages.
The latest round of strong winds, heavy rain and damaging hail battered several communities along the Front Range and Eastern Plains from one end of the state to the other and serves as a reminder that Colorado’s peak weather catastrophe season has arrived. The National Insurance Crime Bureau recently reported that Colorado is number two in the country for the number of insurance claims filed due to property damage from hailstorms to homes and businesses during the past three years. An overwhelming number of these claims include roof damage. The roof is every building’s first line of defense against Mother Nature, and Colorado’s roofs need to be as strong as possible given all the severe weather events that occur here, especially hailstorms.
Unfortunately, these storms can bring out the worst in people, especially unscrupulous roofing contractors who scam consumers needing to repair or replace their hail-damaged roofs. These fraudsters will often make false promises, insist on full payment upfront before work is completed, and sometimes even create damage where none occurred.
While most contractors are honest and reputable, others are not. In fact, the highest number of consumer inquiries to the Better Business Bureau of Denver-Boulder involve selecting reputable roofing contractors.
There are many things consumers can do to guard against being the victim of a fraudulent roofing contractor.
- Look for well-established, licensed, insured and bonded roofing professionals with a federal tax identification number and a permanent address.
- Ask for a contractor’s license number and confirm with your city or county building department that the license number was issued by them and is current.
- Check to make sure the contractor is registered to conduct business in Colorado at https://www.sos.state.co.us/biz/BusinessEntityCriteriaExt.do.
- Ask to see the company’s certificates of insurance. Verify with the insurer the certificate is valid, the contractor is endorsed for roofing work, and the contractor’s coverage for liability and workers’ compensation is current. CONSUMER TIP: Check the number of employees covered by the policy – a low number indicates the contractor will hire temporary help who may or may not have roofing experience.
- Don’t hire a contractor who knocks on your door following a storm. Most legitimate roofing contractors do not conduct business this way.
- Contact the Colorado Roofing Association (CRA) http://coloradoroofing.org, which maintains a current list of licensed, properly insured, professional contractors who have committed to abiding by the CRA Code of Ethics, and have passed a nationally recognized exam that addresses roofing work on residential and/or commercial property.
- Contact the Better Business Bureau (http://www.bbb.org/denver) to check for complaints filed against any company you are considering hiring.
- Be sure to get more than one estimate.
- Require references that specifically include other homes in your area, and check them.
- Make sure you review and understand all documents sent to your insurance carrier.
- Never pay a contractor in full or sign a completion certificate until all the work is completed.
- Don’t be pushed into signing a contract right away. Never sign a contract with blanks or statements like “see insurance estimate, etc.” – fraudulent contractors may enter unacceptable terms later.
- Always ensure that before you sign a contract it includes all the requirements established in Colorado Senate Bill 38.
- Scope of work and materials to be provided.
- Cost for same based on damages known at the time the contract is entered into.
- Approximate dates of service.
- Roofing contractor’s contact information.
- Identification of contractor’s surety and liability coverage insurer and their contact information.
- Contractor’s policy regarding cancellation of contract and refund of any deposit including a rescission clause allowing the property owner to rescind the contract for roofing services and obtain a full refund of any deposit within 72 hours after entering the contract.
- A statement that if the property owner plans to pay for the roofing services through an insurance claim, the contractor cannot pay, waive or rebate the homeowner’s insurance deductible in part or in whole.
- A statement that the contractor shall hold in trust any payment from the property owner until the contractor has delivered roofing materials to the jobsite or has performed a majority of the roofing work on the property.
- A statement that the property owner may rescind a contract for services, the payment for which will be made from the proceeds of a property insurance claim, within 72 hours after receiving notice from their insurer that the claim is denied in whole or in part.
Organizations participating in the No Roof Scams campaign include:
- Better Business Bureau – Denver/Boulder
- Colorado Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Management
- Colorado Division of Insurance (Division of Regulatory Agencies)
- Colorado Roofing Association
- Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety
- National Insurance Crime Bureau
- Property Casualty Insurance Association of America
- Rocky Mountain Insurance Information Association
Follow #NoRoofScams this summer to learn more about how consumers can avoid being the victims of unethical roofing contractors and find reputable roofing contractors.
Replacing a roof on any property is one of the most important parts of that building and it’s a “big ticket” item; you want to be sure you pick the best possible roofing contractor. The Colorado Roofing Association and our members have put together this handy checklist to help homeowners and building owners make informed decisions when hiring a roofing contractor for a new roof!
Be patient . . . use the downloadable CHECKLIST below and take your time to make an informed decision!
- Ask your family, friends and coworkers for recommendations for a roofing contractor. The best referral is a satisfied customer.
- Avoid using door-to-door contractors! Many fraudulent roof scams can be traced back to door knocking contractors, so our advice is to err on the side of caution and only accept bids from local contractors you have called.
- Only accept bids with price, scope of work and materials written on them.
- Homeowners have a 72-hour right of rescission/ cancellation period.
- Request 5 local references that the Estimator personally worked with more than 1 year ago.
- Do not be rushed into signing anything, even if you are told it is just to allow them on your roof, do not sign it. Many times this is a sales tactic used by doorknockers and you could be signing a binding contract.