Find a roofer you can trust

Better Business Bureau says follow a check list of precautions

The summer season can lead to unscrupulous and unqualified contractors peddling dubious deals. The Better Business Bureau recommends doing your research to avoid getting ripped off by an untrustworthy roofer.

“Repairing or replacing your roof can cost thousands of dollars,” says Lynda Pasacreta, BBB President and CEO. “When you’re spending that kind of money, it’s worth it to take your time and find a roofer you can trust.”

Every year, homeowners research the trustworthiness of roofing contractors with BBB. In May, roofing was the most inquired about industry by consumers in B.C. Unfortunately, BBB received 138 complaints about roofers from unsatisfied customers last year, an increase from 110 in 2009.

Complaints about roofers to the BBB concern high-pressure sales tactics, confusion over contract terms, poor workmanship, incomplete job performance, disputes over warranties and overcharging on the agreed upon price.

To avoid these scenarios and find a roofer you can count on, BBB recommends that homeowners always:

• Start with trust. Check out the company first with BBB at www.mbc.bbb.org to make sure you are choosing a trustworthy company. You can also ask friends and family for recommendations.

• Check the qualifications. Verify the business meets all requirements including being licensed, insured, and bonded, and has registered with WorkSafeBC. Also ask the business for references from recent jobs.

• Know your rights. Some contractors will solicit door-to-door. Be aware that you have 10 days to cancel a contract signed in your home with a direct seller. If you have doubts after signing, do not permit the work to start until after the 10 day cancellation period has expired. Contact Consumer Protection BC at 1-888-564-9963 for information on direct sales contracts.

• Get at least three bids. Don’t always go for the lowest bid. Beware of lowball estimates that may potentially balloon over time or foreshadow shoddy work to come. If estimates for the same work vary widely, find out why. Sometimes unscrupulous operators may use sub-standard materials or take longer to finish the job.

• Recognize the red flags. Beware of any contractor that uses high pressure sales tactics or requires full payment upfront. Also avoid contractors that require you to get the necessary permits.

• Make sure everything is in writing. The full scope of the work should be explained in the contract. All verbal agreements need to be included in the written agreement. Pay close attention to the payment terms, estimated price of materials and labour, and any warranties or guarantees. Confirm whether or not the roofer will be subcontracting the job or relying on his or her own employees.

• Know what to pay and when. Some contractors may require a deposit, but never pay the full amount upfront or pay with cash. Only pay in full, minus a holdback, upon satisfactory completion of the work. You can withhold 10 per cent of the total cost upon completion of the work for 55 days. This will protect you should liens be placed against your home. Check with the Land Title Office for liens before paying the remaining 10 per cent.