Phoenix area should be wary of storm chasers
Following a freak hailstorm in October, Phoenix-area roofers remain busy with calls to fix damaged roofs. But they say roofers and homeowners alike continue to face a threat just as bad as a leaking roof: “storm chasers” — unlicensed contractors who show up right after a big storm, go door-to-door offering to do work quickly and cheaply, then move on to another city or state.
Roofers and regulating authorities say large storms create an ideal opportunity for scam artists, and homeowners should be vigilant, particularly of unsolicited door-to-door offers to make repairs.
“The storm chasers are here for the current storm, and they’ll be gone soon,” says Tyler Palmer, spokesman for the Arizona Registrar of Contractors. “If you have any problems with the roof later on, you won’t be able to go back to them for warranty work.”
Rhonda LaNue, co-owner of highly rated Lyons Roofing in Phoenix and chairwoman of the Arizona Roofing Contractors Association committee in charge of public outreach, seeks to warn homeowners. “People need to know they could be opening themselves up to fraud, poor workmanship and theft if they hire unlicensed storm chasers,” she says.
How to avoid Phoenix roofing scams
Quite often, homeowners fail to discover a poor roofing job until months later, when the storm chaser is long gone. “We’ve only had one major rain since the hailstorm, so in a lot of cases, people might not even know yet if they have a poorly installed roof,” says Ann Pepper, director of business development for Lyons Roofing.
Hiring unlicensed workers carries other risks. If they’re not insured, you could be held liable for any injury that occurs on your property. Also, using an uninsured contractor makes your bad roofing job ineligible for help from the state contractor recovery fund.
Palmer and Pepper also warn against contractors who offer to do the work for the amount of the insurance claim. “There are all sorts of shady things this could get into,” Pepper says. “I heard from one customer who had a salesman at their door claiming to represent a company, but they wanted an upfront check written out to the salesman.”
Even if it means waiting a little longer for a reputable contractor, experts say it’s worth it. “If your roof is damaged but it’s not immediately leaking, it probably won’t suddenly start leaking soon,” Pepper says. “Don’t panic and make hasty decisions. The long-term damage caused by a shoddy contractor isn’t worth the convenience of getting it done quickly or cheaply.”