April Hail Storms in the Charlotte, NC Area Usher in a New Volley of Roofing Scams

On April 9, 2011, the Steele Creek area of Charlotte, NC experienced two hailstorms within a single hour. Local area homes suffered extensive roof damage. Just a few miles to the south in Tega Cay, SC, the same weather patterns produced more hail. The numbers indicate that Charlotte area roofers may experience a record-breaking service season.

The BBB of Southern Piedmont has reported more than 7,254 inquiries concerning local roofing contractors. The damage is extensive, and the cost will be relative. Yet this figure does not take into account the number of Charlotte area homeowners who will hire a roofer without checking credentials or history. The costs of shoddy, incomplete, or never started roofing services will also be extensive.

“Busy,” said Charlotte roofer Mark Zimmerman of Zimmerman Enterprises. “It is a sad event, frustrating to many homeowners, and costly, yet for my company it means extended business. I just hope people are smart enough to avoid the scammers. We are trying to help while yet making a profit.”

Seeing The Damage

Perhaps you are not sure of the condition of your roof. The April 9th hailstorm was widespread throughout the area, touching homes in the counties of Cabarrus, Cleveland, Gaston, Lancaster, Lincoln, Mecklenburg, York, and more. But that does not mean that your home is damaged. Unless the roof is actually leaking, take some time before cranking out a payment to the first roofer that knocks on your door.

Most hail related roof damage is not visible from the ground. Damage to a neighbor’s home is not a guarantee that your roof is damaged. Remember also that the damage is not limited to roofing materials. Your home may also require some metal work, gutter replacement, and even some siding replacement.

Scams and Storm Chasers

Without becoming paranoid, homeowners need to practice reasonable money management. Who can forget last summer’s American Shingle scam? Three hundred Carolina homeowners lost $2 million due to making up front payments to a company that failed to perform the services.

Here are some fundamental precautions that may prevent you from being taken by a roofing scam:

  • Assess your current damage status. Learn how to identify damaged shingles. Loose granules and revealed asphalt are sure signs of trouble. For details, visit http://inspectapedia.com/roof/HailDamage.htm.
  • Contact your insurance company. Insurance companies pay for hail damage, not normal roof aging. Never assume that you are covered, and never take the word of anyone other than your insurance agent.
  • Get written estimates from at least three roofers. Ensure that you are comparing service to service and components to components.
  • Ask for and check references.
  • Utilize the services of the Charlotte Better Business Bureau at http://charlotte.bbb.org.
  • Only use licensed contractors.
  • Work with local and proven companies. Even in this be careful. Some storm chasers have learned to setup local shops, hire local sales people, and make contact with local subcontractors. This makes them appear very established. Check for evidence of long-term Mecklenburg residence. Consider paying special attention to speech patterns and accents. Local residents talk like local residents.
  • Avoid companies that leave fliers in the mailbox or that engage in door-to-door sales tactics.
  • Avoid the use of any materials that have a duration guarantee that is below 25 years.
  • Get it in writing, and then read it before signing it.
  • Never pay up front.