I found this article the other day and could not resist adding my own two cents, having been a contractor for nearly three decades, I know how the game is played. This article is a great learning tool to help owners understand why these “how-to” articles on the subject of hiring contractors are not as good as they seem.
The simple fact is that this is marketing, the contractor who writes the “how-to” article is going to skew the things you “must do”, toward their own favor. For example, the larger contractor will say “Choose a contractor with resources”, the guy who has been in business for 20 years or more will say “Choose a contractor who has been in business for 20 years or more” or the smaller contractor might say “Hire a smaller contractor who still cares about quality and craftsmanship”
The problem is that all that stuff is right, and wrong at the same time. Being a larger contractor might mean you have more resources, but not always. Larger is not always better, and for that matter being a smaller hand on contractor does not mean that guy is a better tradesman. Both larger and smaller contractors can be great or not so great.
When I owned a company with 100 roofers working on any given day, my advice was “you need a contractor with the manpower to get it done”. And we did get it done, we did several houses a day, every day and our crews were great. But that was because we had a very regimented and systematic approach to quality control. Other guys I knew in the industry who also had a larger workforce on hand, did not do as well as we did.
When I owned two smaller companies and I was more hands-on doing the work, I would say “you need to hire a contractor who gets down in the dirt and does the work along with the crew” And that is what I did. Again, my work was good, but that was because I still maintained the same quality control standards.
Larger or smaller, I did a good job. The point I am making is that there I more to choosing a contractor then bullet points like “are they licensed” or “get three references”. Its much more dynamic than that, and for the past several years, being a roof consultant, I have seen with my own eyes bad work done by all sorts and sizes of contractors.
Back to the article I found, I am going to make my own little comments in RED and hopefully, you will feel more prepared after reading this to find a good contractor.
America's Choice Roofing's Executive Director Hannah Spivey said every time a storm blows through, they see multiple fraudulent companies scamming residents. – No doubt about that, when Arizona was hit with hail in 2010 the state was invaded by bad players and people are still paying the price to this day.
"So many people in our community get taken advantage of by people coming from out of the area," said Spivey. "People even come in from out of the state." – This is one is simple if you are not sure just ask the salesperson or estimator, whatever title they use, to see their driver’s license. The Stormer's explanation for having an out of state license is something like “So and so is a friend and he needed help with this storm work so he called us in” Don’t believe it.
Spivey said if a company is asking for money upfront, it's probably a scam. – That’s not exactly true, thankfully in Arizona, we have the Registrar of Contractors who manages the “Recovery Funds” and every contractor licensed on Arizona has to carry a bond. Contractors often ask for deposits of some kind, that is not all unusual. What matters here, is that you are hiring a contractor in good standing with the ROC licensed to do the work you need to be done. It is as simple as click and type in the contractor’s name to find out.
"People take money upfront, and you never see them again," said Spivey. "Unfortunately, you can't get that money back once it's already been done." – That is exactly why you hire ONLY a licensed contractor. If you are the victim of a bad player, you can reach out to the ROC and ask for their help. And chances are good, you will recover some or all of your money. The process is not easy, remember we are dealing with a government agency here, but you do have a resource to turn to for help. As long as the contractor your hired has a current license.
Spivey said at her roofing company, they do the work first and then accept the payment. – That is great, and larger companies can do this. But smaller companies may not be as able to finance a job for a client. When a contractor spends their money on your house, they are in a sense loaning you’re their money at zero interest and they hope you will pay them. Believe it or now, there are owners who find reasons to not pay for work, even when the work is done well. There are bad players on both sides of the fence. This is one of those skewed comments that the contractor hopes will encourage you to favor them.
College Station resident Beth Dowlearn woke up to a mess Saturday morning.
"We were surprised in the morning," said Dowlearn. "Our tree broke in the backyard, and our whole fence broke down. I would think about 70% of the fences in the neighborhood came down, and we had some roof damage."
Dowlearn got what you should expect from your roofer. – I completely agree you should get what you expect from your roofer. My entire business now is just that, making sure my clients get what they are paying for. A good place to start is making sure the contractor is doing their work to meet with industry standards. As long as they are doing their work in compliance with the manufacturer’s instructions they are. You can get a copy of any manufacturer’s instruction right off their web site, and I would go as far as to suggest that you demand the contractor you hire includes those instructions as part of their contract.
"He came very soon when we called him," Dowlearn said. "He did the work before we gave him the down payment."
Spivey said residents just like Dowlearn will be taken advantage of in the coming weeks, but there few ways to know if a roofing company is trustworthy. – I agree, when there is a storm event the con artist pretending to be contractors will come out looking for victims.
"Making sure they have a physical address, and even more so, going to that physical address and making sure people are there," Spivey said.
Some scammers go as far as getting a local P.O. Box and phone number, so Spivey said you should make some calls. – I have a PO address I use to receive my business mail at, many businesses use a PO box for a mailing address. Be sure you are not rejecting a contractor based on this one thing alone.
"Call the city," Spivey said, "and see if the company has pulled permits in the past." – Each city will have a different set of rules concerning permits, most re-roofs don’t require one. You should check with your own City engineering department before any work begins.
Spivey also suggests you ask for references and make sure they're insured. – I agree that you should make sure that the contractor is insured. Arizona does not require a contractor be insured to get a license. Arizona does require a bond, but not general liability insurance. And by the way, a contractor can show you an insurance document that won’t cover you anyways, what you should do is ask the contractor send you a copy of their certificate of insurance naming you as an additional insured. Or better yet, ask your own homeowners insurance agent what you should do. On the matter of references, I never have agreed with this one. Think about it, won't the contractor ALWAYS give you some great references to call? We live in a day and age, where you can go online and read all you want about any contractor and get a good feel for the way they do business. By the way, a contractor with bad online reviews is probably going to say “Anyone can post anything”. Correct, so be wise and look for patterns in the way the contractor responds to complaints and are the complaints similar?
"It's very important when you're dealing with the roof over your head," Spivey said.
Another way to ensure a company is legitimate is by doing your research. If a company doesn't have reviews online, you might want to second guess who you're paying.
Or call a professional such as me to help you, its what I do for a living.
Henry Staggs RRO
Preferred Roof Consultants of Arizona, LLC