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When spring storms cause roofs to spring a leak or the house needs a new roof altogether, a roofer is one of the most critical contractors you can hire, which is why it’s important to do your due diligence when hiring a roofing contractor.

Better Business Bureau received more than 5,000 complaints about roofing contractors in 2020. Many complaints involved the quality of work and failure to complete jobs or issue refunds.

A St. Louis man told BBB in December 2020 that after he paid a local roofer a $1,250 deposit for roof repairs, the contractor stopped responding to phone calls and text messages. The man told BBB he subsequently learned the roofer had a history of not completing work and did not have insurance. When the man threatened to contact his attorney, the roofer agreed to refund the man’s deposit but never did so.

Repairing or replacing your roof is one of the biggest home projects a homeowner may have to consider. It’s vital that consumers research companies before hiring them.

BBB has BBB Business Profiles on hundreds of roofers, including their history of complaints and how they were handled, reviews from previous customers and a letter grade from A+ to F. Find a list of BBB Accredited Businesses, which have pledged to abide by BBB’s Standards for Trust, at bbb.org.

Homeowners should be cautious after a storm, when fly-by-night contractors often go door-to-door with offers to make repairs or clear debris. BBB complaints describe contractors who, in these situations, took deposits from consumers and did little or no work. Some couldn’t be reached when consumers wanted refunds or were dissatisfied with the repairs.

BBB recommends the following tips when hiring a roofer or any contractor:

• Make sure you understand the full scope of the project. Will the roofer be doing spot repairs or replacing the whole roof? Will they be removing the old roof or covering it with the new roof? Read your contract thoroughly before signing.

• Do your homework. BBB Business Reviews, available at bbb.org, share consumer perspectives on their experiences with businesses.

• Ask about cleanup and waste removal. Confirm that your contractor will be responsible for taking away all old materials and cleaning up your site after the work is complete.

• Consider your gutters and landscaping. A roofer’s ladders can cause damage to your gutters or landscaping. How will the company prevent or repair such damage?

• Plan for bad weather. What happens if there is bad weather while your roof project is underway? Ask your roofer about what they will do to protect your home from rain or snow.

• Check your insurance coverage. If your project will fix damage, check your homeowner’s insurance to see if your project is covered and how you should proceed if it is.

• Verify the contractor’s license and insurance. Be sure the company you decide to work with has the necessary licenses and insurance to work in your region.

• Inquire about a lien waiver. A lien waiver is a statement from your contractor that says all suppliers and subcontractors have been paid for their work.

• Arrange a payment schedule. For major jobs, never pay in full up front. Stagger your payments so your final payment is not due until the work is complete and you have fully inspected it. Do not pay cash; make sure your check is written to a company, or that you use a credit card.

• Get a receipt. Request a receipt marked “Paid in Full” when the job is completed and your final payment is made.

Michelle Gleba is the Mid-Missouri regional director for Better Business Bureau.

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