In 2017, the US saw severe tornado outbreaks in the Midwest and Southeast, massive flooding in California and Texas, damaging hailstorms in Minnesota and Colorado, three category 4 hurricanes, and wildfires across the West, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Each of these disasters resulted in the tragic loss of life, homes and possessions, and left many people in need of contractors to rebuild their communities.
After a disaster strikes, some contractors decide to expand their businesses to where their services are needed most. Others fly into a disaster area, grab as much work as they can, and then head back home to another state when the work is done, or sometimes when it is not. These “storm chasers” often leave the homeowner with no one to stand behind the work or correct problems if they arise.
So, what’s the difference between storm chasing and a business expansion?
When a contractor expands into an area that shows the potential for new business, he or she establishes a permanent business location. This includes obtaining the necessary licenses and insurance, as well as transferring other professional credentials to the new location. Here’s what to look for:
- A legitimate contractor will show the proper licenses to operate in the state.
- A contractor will provide current certificates of liability insurance and workers’ compensation and have proof of current roofing insurance.
- A contractor will have registered his/her business with the local better business bureau and/or chamber of commerce.
- A roofing contractor will transfer specific credentials, such as a Master Elite® Weather Stopper® GAF certification, to the state in which the business is expanding.
- A legitimate contractor will have good references from other business owners or homeowners in your area.
- A contractor will provide the homeowner with a contract and a complete description of the work to be performed to restore the roof.
- A legitimate contractor will provide a warranty for the work performed in writing and will return to fix any future issues with the roof.
- A roofing contractor will use quality materials and address any concerns with the roof.
On the other hand, storm chasers are companies that complete home repairs, such as roofing and siding, by specifically soliciting business from homeowners after natural disasters occur. Storm chasers move their operations from location to location, in the path of disasters like wildfires and weather events such as hurricanes, hailstorms, and tornadoes. Some of these contractors provide legitimate much-needed services when local contractors may be overwhelmed by the number of business and homeowners needing repair at the same time. However, some storm chasers may be looking to make a quick buck and as a result do substandard work. Here’s what to look out for:
- Storm chasers use temporary locations with no intentions of establishing their business in the state.
- A storm chaser may target desperate homeowners and use high-pressure tactics.
- A storm chaser may not provide current certificates of liability insurance or workers’ compensation. In most states, a homeowner is liable if an accident occurs and the contractor does not have this coverage.
- Because roofing insurance is expensive, some storm chasers cut corners by not paying for it.
- Some storm chasers may hire sub-contractors to do the work.
- Storm chasers may state that they will warranty their work, but might not provide this in writing. It is difficult to force a roofing company to honor a warranty when they no longer do business in the state. Likewise, it is difficult to get a storm chaser to travel back to the area to fix problems that occur in the future.
- A storm chaser may try to convince a homeowner to sign a vague contingency agreement. These will be lacking in the description of the work to be done and lack information about insurance proceeds.
- Storm chasers may use cheap materials and try to install the roof as quickly as possible. Often this results in a poorly constructed roof that has not been restored to its original condition or had any problems addressed.
- There have been instances where storm chasers have come in, roofed a bunch of houses, and left without paying the suppliers, leaving the homeowner to pay twice!
What You Should Do
- Do your research: Check the roofer’s license status with your local building department or licensing agency.
- Ask to see proof of worker’s compensation, liability and roofers’ insurance.
- Check the contractor’s references, and if you can, visit some work sites.
- Read the contract before signing. Make sure that the contractor is obligated to restore the roof to its original condition.
- Request that the warranty be in writing.
- Ask to see receipts for the materials purchased for your home, and check to be sure that the receipt shows “Paid”.
- Obtain invoices and/or receipts for the payments you have made.
All Weather Tite recently expanded into the Naples, FL area, and now has all the proper licenses to provide roofing services in the State of Florida. With All Weather Tite, a GAF-ELK Master Elite® Weather Stopper® Roofing Contractor, you can be assured that your weather-damaged roof will be repaired or replaced properly. All Weather Tite uses quality GAF roofing materials and CertainTeed siding for your home’s exterior, whether in Massachusetts or in Florida. Contact us in Massachusetts or in Florida for a free inspection.