Springtime in Arkansas not only marks the start of warmer temperatures but also the beginning of tornado season. In early May, parts of Northwest Arkansas were hit with severe weather which left many without power and some with damaged homes. Unfortunately, the area has also been experiencing a variety of contractor scams that take advantage of distraught homeowners.
Arkansas Contractors Licensing Board is warning homeowners not to fall for roofing repair scams initiated by what they call “storm chasers.” After damaging storms pass through an area, these individuals scope out neighborhoods looking for homes with damaged roofs.
Often these scammers offer to repair or replace damaged roofs at a discounted rate. The low cost and fast turnaround associated with these offers lure anxious and desperate homeowners in. But Greg Crow, the board administrator for the Arkansas Contractors Licensing Board, urges homeowners to exercise caution with these too good to be true offers.
“The storm chasers especially after bad roof damage, they will come into town and they will go house to house saying ‘well I’ll put you on the list if you give me half the money upfront or even full money upfront – if not good luck and it scares the homeowner and they go ahead and give them money and then many times those guys are never to be seen again,” said Crow.
How to Protect Yourself Against Contractor Scams
Avoid getting swept up in a “good deal” or a “quick fix” that may leave you or your home worse off than when you started.
- Take your time. If a storm has left your home unlivable, it can be tempting to cut corners to get your life back to normal. But rushing into things in these early stages can bring more trouble down the road. Start by contacting your insurance provider, they can help you find, and may even pay for, temporary housing while you make the appropriate repairs to your home.
- Don’t be fooled by a low bid. Always get multiple bids for a home repair project. If one bid is coming in much lower than the rest, that’s a red flag that something’s not right. Often, scammers will provide homeowners with a low bid and then bump the price up once work begins. Ask for an itemized quote for the work that breaks down the steps of the project and the cost of each step.
- Never pay upfront. Some larger jobs may require you to pay in installments, but as a general rule you shouldn’t be owed any work. Crow said, “You control the pocketbook. Again, don’t pay upfront, don’t pay until you’re satisfied.”
- Check for their license. A contractor’s license in Arkansas is required for residential projects that cost $2,000 or more. According to Roof X Solutions, “The cost of roof replacements can range between $4,951 and $6,256.” This means your roofing installer must be licensed to complete the work. You can find a licensed roofer by visiting the Arkansas Contractor Licensing Board.
Be cautious of anyone soliciting door-to-door, take your time, and follow the guidelines provided by your homeowner’s insurance to make sure the repairs made to your home after a storm will help you, not hurt you, down the road.