Denton residents reported that roofing contractors descended quickly on their neighborhoods to offer their services after Thursday’s storms.
On David Simpson’s street, one roofer came through between the first and second storm Thursday evening.
As he arrived home after the second storm, Simpson’s elderly neighbor came out to warn him that contractors were already coming through.
Simpson’s wife told him that she had stepped out to look at the clouds as the second storm approached, “and the guy was standing there at the storm door," he said.
Police arrived at Amos Magliocco’s neighborhood not long after a crew began climbing on his roof.
“I couldn’t get them to come down,” Magliocco said, adding that he didn’t call the police. But he did call the company, whose dispatcher said they’d been sent to check on the house to the east.
“I pointed them to the right house, but then they went on the roof of the house to the west,” Magliocco said. By the time police left, the crew was on the right roof, he said.
Magliocco later learned that a property management company had called the roofer to check on a number of homes it managed in the area.
In hard-hit Krum, Fire Chief Ken Swindle said solicitors sprang up almost immediately. Krum has a city policy requiring solicitors to register before going door to door. Even though no company had obtained a solicitation permit as of lunchtime Friday, contractors were already putting up fliers and knocking on doors, he said.
Residents should expect to see roof repair and body work trucks just parked around town, he said, but he also cautioned that property owners make sure the company can do the work.
“Vendors chase this stuff [large-scale disasters] and it’s how they make their money,” Swindle said.
At least one Denton resident was already weary of the aggressive tactics, though, and she called the Better Business Bureau in Dallas to report that she had to resort to putting a sign on her door telling contractors not to knock unless they were members of the bureau with an “A” rating, according to Jaennette Kopko, who is the spokeswoman for the Better Business Bureau of Dallas and Northeast Texas.
It was a little early to know whether the aggressive tactics signaled trouble for Denton residents, since contractors move quickly after storms to find work, Kopko said.
“Established and reliable roofers are happy for the work,” she said.
There are lots of things property owners can do to make sure they are working with a reliable roofer who will get the job done right. Kopko cautioned people against signing any documents without reading them first and to resist high-pressure tactics, particularly from those going door-to-door to solicit the work.
“It’s important to know exactly who you are dealing with and can get in contact with them later,” she said.
Many businesses now will establish virtual offices with private mailboxes and temporary telephone numbers.
“You can’t really tell where they are,” she said, adding that even the Better Business Bureau can have difficulty keeping up with some of them.
A few years ago, one roofer came to the region and took money from about a dozen homeowners and then left town without doing the work, which Kopko called a worst-case scenario.
She also cautioned property owners to watch for roofers who say they can work closely with your insurance company to get you the best deal, but the fine print of the contract contains a clause for a 20 percent to 25 percent cancellation fee if you go with another roofer, she said.
“It’s important to read and understand what you sign,” she said.
Karen Vermaire Fox, executive director of the North Texas Roofing Contractors Association, said homeowners should never pay anything up front, and it isn’t necessary to sign a contract with a roofer to get the work done. Fox urged patience with the process, because often reputable companies take longer to come out to your property.
Staff writers Jenna Duncan and Megan Gray contributed to this report.
PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter at @phwolfeDRC.
HOW TO SELECT A ROOFER
Consumers are urged to beware of possible contracting and roofing scams and to check with the Better Business Bureau, www.bbb.org, if they have concerns.
The state of Texas doesn’t require licensing to work on a roof, and there are no state rules that govern roofing contracting, so there is a risk of working with inexperienced roofers or scam artists, according to the North Texas Roofing Contractors Association, a regional trade group.
The group urges consumers to ensure that a roofer has general liability insurance and to work with a local company that will still be in the area in a year or two in case there are problems with the roof that need prompt repairs, according to Karen Vermaire Fox, executive director of the association.
In addition, the Denton Police Department released this description of several common roofing scams:
The “disappearing” down payment — In this scam, the contractor will require a “down payment” to obtain the materials needed to start the repairs. Once the contractor gets the payment, the contractor disappears with the money and no work is completed.
Door-to-door salespeople — These individuals will sometimes fabricate damage to the roof that may not be there in the first place. These people will also pressure the homeowner into signing a contact to repair the roof prior to the insurance adjuster inspecting the roof.
Storm chasers — These people follow storms and are usually in the devastated areas within hours of the storms passing. These people know how insurance companies work and typically figure out how to put on a “cheap” new roof that is not up to the quality of the original, and they don’t always address other problems the roof may have. These people also leave after the job is finished and often can’t be found for any repairs that may arise in the future.
High-pressure sales — People who use high-pressure sales tactics to have you sign a contract on the spot will often make dishonest and misleading claims. If the salesperson demands an immediate signature on a contract, then this is a red flag there may be problems in the future.
The “low bid” — Everyone likes a deal, but sometimes the “low bid” actually ends up costing more money in the long run. In this scam, the contractor will quote a bid that is much lower than the competition to gain the homewoner’s business. Once the job begins, the contractor will find “unforeseen” problems and the costs will increase. Most reputable contractors will include a section in their contracts dealing with unexpected costs, particularly the roof decking that can’t be inspected prior to the removal of the shingles.