Homeowner Horror Stories: Bad Roof Jobs (And How To Prevent Them From Happening To You)

Whether it’s a bad paint job, a miserable remodel, or lousy landscaping it’s likely you’ve heard (or experienced) your share of homeowner horror stories. I’ve had some minor mishaps, but nothing comes close to what my friend from high school went through a few months ago.

She and her family live in Virginia and last summer she decided to replace the roof on her home. Long story short, she hired a roofing company to do the job. The work came with a 30-year-warranty, but within a few months the shingles started curling. Oh, and did I mention, prior to that she was told that the company never paid the subcontractor so the subcontractor put a lien on her home? Can you say nightmare?

Things have since been sorted out (with the lien issue, not the curling shingles), though my friend is still kicking herself for not doing a thorough background check on the roofing company she hired. If she had she would have learned that the company has an “Unsatisfactory” rating with the Better Business Bureau. She would have also found out that 28 customers had filed complaints in a three-year period against said company.

In her defense, the Better Business Bureau does admit that even if contractors have lawsuits brought against them, it’s not necessarily a reflection of the quality of their work. (It’s not?) In addition, the BBB says shoddy roof repairs (from leaks to improper installation) happen on a regular basis.

If you are starting to think about spring home repairs, but cringe at the thought of being taken for a ride, you may want to keep the following tips in mind before hiring help:

Reputation is Everything. When picking a roofing company, experts recommend ignoring the dollar signs (this may be the hardest step to take) and paying attention to reputation. Ask your family, friends and colleagues for recommendations.

Shop Around. Get several quotes from different companies. Typically, homeowners pick roofers based on price. If one company’s quote is substantially lower than the other five companies you’ve called, consider it a warning sign.

Beware of Roofers With Cellphones. My friend always wondered why the roofer she hired claimed to be local, but could only be reached via cellphone. Red flag! Don’t give money to a transient contractor roofer.

Get a Contract. Most states require that all contractors give a written contract to the customer. Don’t fork over any money until you get one.

According to the Department of Consumer Protection, there’s no way to shut down a questionable business, but repeated violations of the law may lead to legal action. In addition, if enough customers file complaints the department has the power to refer a business to the district attorney’s office for prosecution.

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About Michele Cheplic

Michele Cheplic was born and raised in Hilo, Hawaii, but now lives in Wisconsin. Michele graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in Journalism. She spent the next ten years as a television anchor and reporter at various stations throughout the country (from the CBS affiliate in Honolulu to the NBC affiliate in Green Bay). She has won numerous honors including an Emmy Award and multiple Edward R. Murrow awards honoring outstanding achievements in broadcast journalism. In addition, she has received awards from the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association for her reports on air travel and the Wisconsin Education Association Council for her stories on education. Michele has since left television to concentrate on being a mom and freelance writer.