11 Signs Your Roofing Contractor Is Ripping You Off

construction worker repairing the roof

Does something seem off about your roofer? Signs your roofing contractor is ripping you off include lack of information, unusual costs, pushy sales methods, and poor-quality installation.

Choosing the wrong contractor can have catastrophic effects on your wallet and home. So, if you want your roofing project done timely and efficiently, you must not fall for shady tactics.

Tactics Used by Shady Roofing Contractors

You’ll know it’s a red flag if a roofing company does any of the following:

1. Door-to-Door Advertising

Knock knock. Who’s there? Probably a scammer. While most homeowners are wary of door-to-door salespeople, some roofers exploit vulnerable homeowners. For example, storm chasers will go door-to-door pointing out storm damage and claiming they can help, knowing the residents are stressed and desperate to fix things.

Often, these roofers say they just happen to be in the neighborhood and want to help. It’s easy to feel grateful and obligated to accept their services. While this offer seems kind, it’s not. Door-to-door salespeople prey on desperate customers because they’re more likely to get work that way. If their victims weren’t so desperate, they might have had time to look up the company and see their poor reviews.

An experienced roofer doesn’t need to solicit work — customers will come to them. If a roofer arrives at your door and says your roof is damaged, don’t accept their offer on the spot. Research local, trustworthy contractors and get one to inspect your roof. This second opinion will help you confirm or deny the damage the solicitor claimed was there.

Note: Your home insurance company may require an inspection for your insurance claim. It’s easier to get accurate estimates if you have an inspection first because you’ll know the full extent of the damage.

2. High-Pressure Sales Tactics

Door-to-door solicitation is only one type of high-pressure sales tactic. Here are some other things they may do:

  • Push you to sign a contract quickly: Roofers must provide a detailed estimate before they make you sign a contract. Most roof estimates last a few months, giving you time to consider your options. A company that pressures you to enter a contract is likely hoping to trap you and make it difficult to pull out of the agreement.
  • Exaggerate damages: An untrustworthy contractor will make things sound worse than they are to scare you into hiring them and paying more. They also might exaggerate the damage for your insurance claim to get more money from your insurance company.
  • Upsell you on things you don’t need: If you just want a simple roof repair or replacement, beware of companies that pressure you to add upgrades. If they insist you need fancy new gutters or skylights, weigh the pros and cons carefully. Some roof upgrades are worth it, but you should actually want or need them.

3. Offering Low Prices

We all like a good deal, but sometimes it comes at a price. Salespeople use discounts to lure customers, but you should consider how the contractor can offer such a low price. They may take shortcuts and cut corners to save money. For example, they could use flimsy shingles or one layer of paint when they should use two.

Cheap materials and poor workmanship may save money in the short term, but they will cost more in the long run. A bad-quality roof repair or replacement won’t last long, so you’ll need to pay more to get it redone.

For reference, roof repairs typically cost around $348 to $1,186, while roof replacements usually cost between $5,706 and $11,185. Your actual project cost may fall outside these price ranges, but it shouldn’t be dramatically different from other quotes in your area. Get two or more quotes to compare pricing.

4. Asking For a Large Down Payment

If a low price is bad, does that mean a high price is good? Not necessarily. You should be especially wary of anyone who wants lots of money upfront.

If you pay before they do any work, there’s no guarantee they will do a good job (or do it at all). After all, they already got what they wanted.

Never make the full payment upfront. If a roofer asks for a deposit, don’t pay more than 20 percent of the total project cost.

5. Not Providing Proof of Licensing, Insurance, Bonding, or Permits

roofing worker on a roof
Photo Credit: Visoot’s Images / Canva Pro / License

A licensed roofer has registered with the state or local municipality to do construction. Most states require roofers to be licensed. If a roofer isn’t licensed in a place where it’s mandatory, it may be because they didn’t meet the requirements or want to avoid regulations. Because of this danger, you should always work with licensed professionals. But don’t just take them at their word — verify their license through your state’s licensing agency.

You also should think twice before working with an uninsured and unbonded company. Insurance protects you and the company in case of damages or injuries. Bonding allows you to get your money back if the roofing company doesn’t finish the job. If a company isn’t insured or bonded, holding them responsible for their mistakes is harder.

The last piece of paperwork a scammer might skip is a permit. Permits ensure that construction meets safety standards. Without a permit, you may run into safety or insurance issues. While minor repairs may not require permits, large structural roofing projects do. Ask your roofer to show you the permits during the project. Check your city’s permitting requirements to be confident your roofer hasn’t missed anything.

6. No Online Information or Reviews About Them

If you heard about a roofer in person or through word of mouth, look them up. Do they show up in online searches? If not, you probably shouldn’t work with them. When a company does show up in online searches, check to see if their contact information is up to date and matches what they’ve given you. This step ensures they aren’t impersonating other companies.

Next, check reviews on Google, Yelp, and the Better Business Bureau. Note how many are positive versus negative and if they’ve resolved complaints against them. A company with no reviews, mostly negative reviews, or unresolved complaints will likely leave you complaining, too. You also can ask companies for recent references to learn directly from other customers.

A company with no website also is on shaky ground. Roofing websites often have important details, such as contact information, license number, services offered, business hours, testimonials, and certifications to install materials from specific brands. Without a website, it isn’t easy to verify their information.

Some small or new businesses won’t have reviews, references, or websites yet, but it could be a sign the contractor has rebranded recently to shake off a bad reputation.

7. Shady Work Ethics

The roofing estimate and contract must indicate what services the company will perform. A detailed description ensures they’re doing what you want them to, and you’re not surprised about anything. Even if the contractor needs to change something during construction, they should run it by you first.

Watch out if a roofer gives you a vague project description or omits it entirely. They could keep you in the dark so they can skip parts of the project or add extra tasks to drive up the price later. A good contractor will never put you in a position where you have to pay for something you didn’t want, ask for, or know about.

If they keep saying, “Oh, we actually need this or that now,” watch out. While some things come up unexpectedly, an experienced roofer will be prepared for the unexpected. A roofer constantly making changes is unprofessional and hasn’t planned things out — or they’re deceiving you to get more money after they’ve started.

Note: One part of your roof that’s difficult to inspect ahead of time is your roof decking. Since it’s not visible until they rip the roof off, they may not know if it’s rotten or damaged ahead of time. Because of this, your project may increase in price. A good roofing contractor will tell you how much more this could cost before they start, just in case.

8. Project Timeline is Off

Before a roofer starts a project, they should give you a time estimate. The project duration could fall anywhere between one and 21 days, depending on home size, project complexity, and weather patterns. If they don’t provide a time estimate, it could mean they’re inexperienced or trying to deceive you.

An experienced roofer should have a good idea of the labor time needed to finish a project. They should provide a start and end date for the project in the estimate, though expect a few days of variability to account for bad weather or other unforeseen circumstances.

What if their time estimate is wrong? A slight difference isn’t too big of a deal. However, finishing too quickly or slowly could be a bad sign. For example, a job done quickly may be rushed. Have a roof inspector look it over to ensure they didn’t forget anything or do a sloppy job. If the work takes longer than expected with no explanation, they may be trying to get more money from you by extending the project.

9. Dishonest About the Materials

construction workers on a roof
Photo Credit: Pramote Polyamate’s Images / Canva Pro / License

Watch out if your roofing contractor brags about saving money on materials — it sounds like a good deal, but quality materials are worth the price. Some scammers may even use poor-quality materials to save money while charging you for premium materials.

Roofing contractors should mention the material brands and pricing in an itemized list on the estimate. If they don’t tell you what brand of shingle they’re using, ask. Look up the brand online and see how favorable the reviews are. If the contractor refuses to tell you about materials or switches brands without consulting you, it’s a red flag.

It also isn’t a good sign if they end up with loads of extra materials and charge you for all of them. The contractor should have a pretty good idea of how much material they need with a little wiggle room. If they’re grossly under or overestimating the amount, they’re either too inexperienced or knowingly scamming you.

10. Not Offering or Disclosing Warranties

Warranties cover defects or improperly assembled products, allowing consumers to get repairs or replacements. There are two main types of warranties:

  • Manufacturers’ warranties cover the materials used. The brands offer these warranties to compensate for manufacturing defects or quality control issues. They typically last 10 to 50 years.
  • Workmanship warranties come from the roofing contractor. It’s a promise that their work is of good quality and that they’ll fix installation issues. They typically last for two to 25 years.

According to the Federal Trade Commission, you should be able to see warranties before you purchase goods or services. If a roofing contractor doesn’t tell you about any warranties on the estimate, they probably don’t offer them — but it doesn’t hurt to ask.

If a roofing company doesn’t offer warranties, there’s no guarantee they do quality work. There will be little you can do if your roof falls apart due to poor workmanship — they will have your money and no obligation to fix their mistakes.

11. Sloppy and Improper Installation

You don’t always have to be an expert to see something wrong. If anything looks weird or off about your roof during or after the process, research what it should look like. Nothing should look sloppy — even uneven designs like cedar shakes have an organized chaos to them. If it looks nothing like what you expected, their business practices may be just as crooked as their shingles.

If you need expert help, contact a roof inspector to look for problems. They can help you identify more subtle construction issues that could cut your roof’s lifespan short or cause safety issues.

FAQ About Signs Your Roofing Contractor is Ripping You Off

What Are the Signs of a Bad Roof Installation?

If you aren’t confident in your ability to identify lousy roof installation, here are some telltale signs:

  • Missing parts
  • Leaks
  • Sagging
  • Unevenness
  • Gaps in flashing
  • Damaged components
  • Mismatched materials
  • Secondhand parts
  • Stains
  • Unaddressed issues

Why Don’t Contractors Call You Back?

There are several reasons contractors don’t call customers back, some more justifiable than others. They could be busy and overwhelmed by jobs, especially if they’re a popular company or there’s been a storm recently. On the other hand, some companies just don’t have the best customer service.

No matter the reason, it’s probably best to move on to someone else if you don’t hear back after a week. You can move on quicker if you have a roofing emergency.

How Many Years Should a Roof Last?

A roof’s lifespan depends on materials, but it typically varies from 15 to 150 years. Here are the lifespans for some common roofing materials:

Roof MaterialLifespan
Asphalt shingles15 to 30 years
Built-Up Roofing (BUR)20 to 30 years
Composite15 to 40 years
Wood25 to 40 years
Metal20 to 70 years
Concrete50 to 100 years
Clay50 to 100 years
Slate50 to 150 years

To make any roof last longer, keep up with proper maintenance like cleaning, repairs, and inspections.

What Should You Do if a Roofer Has Scammed You?

Cancel as quickly as possible. Contact the company by email or letter as well as by phone. You want a written record and a higher chance of reaching them quickly. Companies may charge a cancellation fee, especially if it’s after 72 hours, but it’s probably better than paying them more and getting a bad roof.

The cooling-off rule may apply if your purchase was made at home for more than $25, which is perfect for door-to-door salespeople. However, we recommend you check your state’s laws to understand your options better.

You also can report or file a complaint with your state’s licensing board, the Better Business Bureau, or the National Insurance Crime Bureau. You can contact a legal professional if you believe the roofing contractor has broken any laws.

Find a Better Pro

A roofing scam is a disheartening experience that makes it hard to trust other contractors. However, it is possible to find reputable roofing contractors. Look for positive reviews from other homeowners and read roofing estimates carefully before you sign a contract. Remember, a good contractor is happy to answer questions and clarify any uncertainties.
If you need help searching, RoofGnome can connect you with local roofing pros.

Main Image Credit: jacquesdurocher / Canva Pro / License

Lauren Bryant

Lauren Bryant is a freelance writer currently based in the Pacific Northwest. She enjoys long walks and baking in her free time. With the rainy weather in her area, she understands the importance of a well-maintained, leak-free roof.