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8 Signs of a Bad Roofing Contractor

July 21st, 2023 | 8 min. read

8 Signs of a Bad Roofing Contractor

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The roofing industry doesn’t have a good reputation, and it’s honestly for a good reason. Bad roofing contractors who take advantage of homeowners to make a quick buck are at the heart of this reputation.

This not only makes it harder for them to trust reputable roofers, but it also leads to attempting dangerous and low-quality DIY work. We’re a roofing company, so I could easily paint a rosy picture of the state of the industry. 

Unfortunately, that’s just not the world we live in. But that doesn’t mean I can’t be transparent to help you and anyone else avoid the industry's dark side. 

For over 30 years, the team at Bill Ragan Roofing has educated homeowners on the good and bad of the roofing industry. Because of this, I’ll break down how to spot a bad roofer from a mile away.

In this article, you’ll learn the following 8 signs that you’re dealing with a bad roofing contractor:

  • The roofing contractor isn’t licensed, bonded, and insured
  • The roofing contractor is from an out-of-state company
  • They want you to sign something before a roof inspection
  • The reviews for the roofing company aren’t good
  • Your estimate isn’t broken down by line items
  • The roofing contractor isn’t willing to go over the final quote with you
  • Their workmanship warranty doesn’t offer long-term protection
  • Willingness to lower their prices to win your business

1. The roofing contractor isn’t licensed, bonded, and insured

Every roofing contractor should be licensed, bonded, and insured in the state they operate in. If they have all three, they’ll have no problem showing you the appropriate paperwork to back it up.

It’s a huge red flag if they aren’t licensed, bonded, and insured in your state, and even worse if they aren’t willing to prove it. If the roofing contractor is missing even one of these pieces of paper, don’t even think about hiring them. 

This leaves you with literally zero recourse if something goes wrong during your roofing project. At the end of the day, a roofing contractor being licensed, bonded, and insured is to protect you. 

That’s why you should ask every potential roofer for proof and move on with your search if they can’t provide all three.

2. The roofing contractor is from an out-of-state company

The next sign is when an out-of-state roofing company comes to your door offering inspections. This isn’t to say they're necessarily all “bad”, but it’s crucial that any potential roofer has a local phone number and a physical location in your area.

You probably won’t experience this sign under normal circumstances, but you need to be wary of these companies after strong storms damage roofs. This is where out-of-state storm-chasing companies come in after the storm, undercut the local roofing companies’ prices, get the money, and move on to the next storm-hit town.

These companies don’t care about following local codes, providing quality products, or properly installing your roof. And while they may offer a workmanship warranty, I guarantee they won’t be around to fix the problems that eventually show up. 

As I said, I’m not saying all storm chasers are bad. However, I’ve seen too many homeowners taken advantage of by these companies.

That’s why I recommend being on the safe side by only looking at local companies to ensure this won’t happen to you. This ensures you know exactly where to find them if there’s ever a problem.  

3. They want you to sign something before a roof inspection

The next sign of a bad roofing contractor is when they try to strong-arm you into signing something before they’ll inspect the roof. This is most likely an attempt to lock you into a contract and give them the right to your roof, which means you don’t get to pick your roofing contractor. 

But just like before, this shouldn’t happen under normal circumstances and is another tactic used by storm-chasing companies. However, that doesn’t mean a local roofing company with bad intentions won’t try this too. 

If this happens, politely decline signing and say it’s because you want to talk to a couple of roofing companies.

4. The reviews for the roofing company aren’t good

One of the first things homeowners check when considering companies is their reviews. By looking at reviews of potential roofing companies, you can gauge if the roofing contractor is reputable or not so great. 

Let’s be honest; some reviews aren’t always accurate because people tend to go to the extreme one way or the other. However, seeing multiple reviews with similar problems, like poor quality work or not honoring workmanship warranties, clearly indicates that the roofing company isn’t the best.

On the other hand, you’ll see plenty of positive reviews for roofing companies who stand behind their work, interact positively with customers, and do things the right way. Just make sure you’re looking at reviews from the last 2-3 months to ensure you’re getting recent homeowner experiences.

5. Your estimate isn’t broken down by line items

Every roof estimate (quote, proposal, etc.) should be as specific as possible with an itemized list of everything that will be done during your roof replacement. This is to show transparency on everything you’re paying for, from the roofing materials to the roofing contractor’s labor and more. 

But a huge warning sign that you’re working with a bad roofing contractor is when an estimate only comes with a price. If it impacts the cost of your new roof, it should be included as a line item, period.

Without an itemized list, you have no idea what you’re paying for. This leads to using lower-quality roofing materials, cheap labor, and other ways to make a low price look like a steal when it’s just a bad roof.

I also guarantee the workmanship warranty will only be as good as the paper it’s written on. If you ever get a roof estimate with a price only, throw it away and move on.

6. The roofing contractor isn’t willing to go over the final quote with you

Speaking of estimates, the most important part of getting a final quote or proposal is going over it with the contractor. Even if there are line items, it’s a huge red flag if they aren’t willing to go over every line item so you fully understand what you’re signing. 

They’re also not giving you a chance to ask questions and raise any concerns you have. If a roofing contractor can’t be bothered to do this, there’s no telling what the quality of work will look like.

Just know that it’s not unusual to get a video breaking down your quote in today’s age. But if they’re willing to make a video, they’ll be willing to sit down and go over it with you too.

7. Their workmanship warranty doesn’t offer long-term protection

A new roof comes with warranties on the roofing materials and your roofing contractor’s workmanship. Your estimate will include information about the warranties, but the one you need to pay attention to is their workmanship warranty to determine how much pride they take in their work. 

Every roofing contractor should offer a workmanship warranty, so don’t even think about hiring them if they don’t offer one. With that in mind, roofing contractors should have no problem standing behind their work for at least 10 years if they believe in the products and their quality of work.

If they offer anything less, be skeptical and look at other options because there’s always a reason. Maybe it’s cheaper labor, the materials they used, or the corners they cut. You’re investing good money in your roof, so set your standards higher and look for a roofing company that offers long-term protection. While 10 years is the minimum, don’t be afraid to be on the lookout for a lifetime warranty or close to it (25 years).

8. Willingness to lower their prices to win your business

Trust me when I say this, bad roofing contractors can smell when you’re looking for the cheapest price. Once a bad roofing contractor learns you’re looking for the lowest price, you’re making yourself a prime target.

They’ll use this to their advantage and lower their prices to win your business. They do this by leaving off necessary materials, using low-quality materials, or using a different material (like using 3-tab asphalt shingles as ridge capping) to make it appealing on the surface. 

I also doubt they’ll pay for the best labor to install this cheap roof. Just know that reputable roofers may lower a little to be more competitive, but you need to run the other way once they start to go lower and lower to win your business.

Now, I’m not saying a lower-priced estimate is a sign that they’re a bad roofing contractor. Every roofing company has different overhead costs, prefers certain products, or whatever else impacts their pricing. 

But when one roofing estimate is much lower than the other(s), there are reasons why and you need to be skeptical.

The steps to hire a great roofing contractor

Now you know how to identify a bad roofing contractor with these 8 signs. As long as you follow the advice in this article, I’m confident you’ll avoid making the wrong hiring decision. 

Now, you’re ready to start your search for a roofing contractor with this advice. While it’s never been easier to find one, there are steps you can take to ensure you’re choosing a reputable roofer.

That’s why I wrote another article breaking down the 6 steps every homeowner should take when going through the hiring phase of their roofing project. 

Check out 6 Steps to Choose the Right Roofing Contractor to learn how to find a trustworthy, reputable roofer in your area.

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