True or false? Roofing contractors in Dallas are required to be licensed by the state of Texas.
Answer: False. Texas is one of several states where roofing contractors are not required to have a license. Pretty much anybody with a hammer can wake up one day, decide to be a roofer... and come knocking on your door after a storm claiming to be a roofer.
Roofing Scams are a Big Problem in Texas
Texas residents should be particularly wary of fraudulent roofing contractors. Not only is there currently no state roofing licensing requirements, but parts of Texas – particularly the Dallas-Fort Worth area – are prone to some of the worst hailstorms in the country. Hail doesn't just bring roof damage... it also brings out the scammers.
Karen Fox, executive director of the North Texas Roofing Contractors Association, stated the roofing scams typically peak following major storms. “Within 12 hours of a storm, an area can be blanketed with roofers, many from other states. After making contact with the homeowner and offering a lower price, they ask for a down payment and say they will come back after buying the shingles. Then, they never come back,” she said.
Fox added, “Homeowners get taken advantage of all the time. It’s a big problem in North Texas.”
Victim of Roofing Fraud wants Change
The Dallas Morning News highlighted one of the many victims of roofing scams in the North Texas area. Mary Jane Pierson’s roof was damaged in a major hailstorm during the spring of 2012.
As has been the case following past major storms, unscrupulous roofing contractors go door-to-door promising to help out those in need of roof repairs and replacements. Pierson felt comfortable enough to sign a contract to have her roof replaced for $25,000 and soon after handed the roofer a down payment of $14,000 from her insurance company.
In the following weeks, the scammer continuously made excuses why he hadn’t started the work – shipment of shingles was delayed, his office had flooded, etc…
More than a year later and Pierson is still without a new roof, and most importantly is out $14,000. She, along with other victims of roofing scams, will be speaking at a hearing in front of state lawmakers to try and pass legislation to help protect consumers against fraudulent roofing contractors.
Proposed Regulations and Legislation in Texas
New roofing rules and regulations are expected to be introduced to Texas lawmakers at the end of March. Various changes may include some or all of the following:
- State licensing requirement for all roofers, with the Texas Department of Insurance providing oversight.
- Requirements for roofing contractors to disclose proof of insurance coverage.
- Formation of a new license holder database for the state of Texas.
- Background checks on roofers applying for licenses.
Other provisions are also in the works. The general idea is to avoid over-regulating the roofing industry but at the same time provide the consumer with protection against roofing scams and shoddy roof work.
There’s no word on when and if the proposed legislation will be signed into law. However, odds are that some sort of new consumer protection related to roofing fraud and shoddy roofing practices in Texas will be put into place sometime in 2013.
Scope of the Problem
Texas isn’t the only state dealing with roofing scams and fraud. Tennessee was once a hot-bed for fraudulent roofing practices until a law was passed that required roofing companies become more transparent to the customer. This includes providing the customer with address information, email address, proof of license and a detailed description of the roof work to be done.
Similar laws are in the works in other states, including Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, South Dakota and Indiana.
There are still some states (as of 2010) that do not require roofing contractors to be licensed, including Georgia, Idaho, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Missouri, New Hampshire, Vermont and several others that have local regulations but not state licensing mandates.
Avoid Being Scammed by a Crooked or Phony Roofing Contractor
You can avoid becoming a victim of roofing fraud by following some basic roofing tips.
- Only hire licensed roofing contractors
- Only hire roofers that are local
- Seek out customer reviews to ensure the company is legit
- Ask the roofing contractor for a few local references from other local customers
- Be especially wary of door-knocking roofers
- Never put more than 10% down for work, and never pay with cash
- Keep all receipts and documentation of the work
- Find proof of the roofer’s experience, years in business, specialties, etc...