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How to spot a bad roofer

Updated: Aug 14, 2023

Hiring a roofing contractor is a significant decision that can impact the safety, longevity, and value of your home. Unfortunately, not all roofers are created equal, and choosing the wrong one can lead to subpar workmanship, unnecessary expenses, and even structural damage. To help you navigate this crucial process, we have compiled a comprehensive guide on how to spot a bad roofer. By paying attention to certain warning signs and conducting thorough research, you can protect yourself and your investment.

1. Lack of Proper Licensing and Insurance:

A reputable roofer should possess the necessary licensing and insurance to protect you and your property. Before hiring a roofer, check if they are licensed to operate in your area and have proper insurance coverage, including liability insurance and workers' compensation. A lack of these credentials could leave you financially responsible for any accidents or damages that occur during the project.

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2. Poor Online Presence and Reputation:

In today's digital age, a professional roofing company should have a strong online presence. Begin your research by visiting the roofer's website, social media profiles, and online review platforms. Look for consistency in their branding, clear contact information, and positive reviews from previous customers. A lack of an online presence or a history of negative reviews should raise concerns.

3. Door-to-Door Sales Tactics:

Be cautious of roofers who employ aggressive door-to-door sales tactics. Reputable roofers typically obtain clients through referrals, local advertising, or an established online presence. Unsolicited visits may indicate a lack of credibility or a potential scam.

4. Unwillingness to Provide References:

A trustworthy roofing contractor should willingly provide references from satisfied customers. Contact these references and inquire about the quality of work, professionalism, adherence to timelines, and overall satisfaction with the roofer. If a roofer hesitates to provide references or the references offer negative feedback, it's a red flag.

5. Lack of Written Estimates and Contracts:

A professional roofer will provide a detailed written estimate that outlines the scope of work, materials to be used, project timeline, and cost breakdown. It should also include any warranties or guarantees. Insist on a written contract that clearly defines all terms and conditions before any work begins. A bad roofer may avoid providing written documentation, leaving room for disputes or unexpected costs.

6. Pressure to Make Immediate Decisions:

Beware of roofers who pressure you into making immediate decisions. Reputable contractors understand that choosing a roofer is a significant investment and will provide sufficient time for you to review estimates, contracts, and other details. High-pressure sales tactics often indicate a lack of professionalism or an attempt to hide subpar practices.

7. Unusually Low Bids:

While affordability is a consideration, extremely low bids should raise suspicion. Some unscrupulous contractors may underbid competitors to secure a job and then cut corners on materials or workmanship. Quality roofing materials and skilled labor come at a cost. It is essential to prioritize value and long-term durability over the lowest price.

8. No Written Warranty:

A reliable roofer stands by their work and offers a written warranty on both materials and labor. A lack of warranty may indicate a lack of confidence in their own craftsmanship or the use of substandard materials.

9. Unprofessional Behavior or Communication (continued):

A reputable roofer should demonstrate professionalism in their behavior and communication. They should be responsive to your inquiries, address your concerns promptly, and provide clear and concise information regarding the project. Lack of professionalism, such as showing up late, not returning calls or emails, or displaying rude or disrespectful behavior, is a warning sign that the roofer may not be reliable or trustworthy.

10. Inadequate Knowledge or Expertise:

A bad roofer may display a lack of knowledge or expertise in their field. During your initial consultation or meetings, ask specific questions about the roofing materials, installation techniques, and any potential challenges or recommendations for your specific project. A competent roofer will showcase their knowledge and provide insightful answers. If a roofer seems unsure or evades your questions, it could indicate a lack of experience or competence.

11. No Local or Established Presence:

Choose a roofer with a local and established presence in your community. Fly-by-night contractors or storm chasers who follow severe weather events may offer quick repairs or replacement services but disappear once the work is complete. Local roofers are more likely to have a reputation to uphold and will be available for ongoing support or warranty issues.

12. Lack of Documentation and Permits:

A good roofer understands the importance of adhering to local building codes and obtaining necessary permits for the roofing project. They will handle the required documentation and permits on your behalf. If a roofer tries to convince you to skip the permits or avoid necessary paperwork, it is a clear indication of their unprofessionalism and disregard for legal requirements.

13. Limited or No Portfolio of Past Projects:

Reputable roofers take pride in their work and are eager to showcase their previous projects. Ask for a portfolio or photo gallery of their past roofing work. A lack of visual evidence may suggest inexperience, a lack of completed projects, or a history of unsatisfactory results.

14. Substandard Materials or Cut-rate Brands:

A bad roofer may try to cut costs by using substandard materials or low-quality brands that compromise the integrity of your roof. A reputable roofer will recommend high-quality materials that are suitable for your specific roofing needs. Ask about the brands they work with and conduct your own research to ensure they have a track record of durability and performance.

15. Limited or No Written Contracts:

A professional roofer will provide a written contract that clearly outlines the project details, including the start and completion dates, payment terms, materials to be used, and warranties. Avoid roofers who refuse to provide a written contract or try to rely solely on verbal agreements. A written contract protects both parties and ensures that everyone is on the same page.


Hiring a reliable and skilled roofer is essential to ensure a successful roofing project and protect your investment. By being aware of the warning signs discussed in this comprehensive guide, you can spot a bad roofer and make an informed decision. Remember to conduct thorough research, obtain written estimates and contracts, and prioritize professionalism, expertise, and a solid reputation. Taking these precautions will help you find a reputable roofer who will deliver quality workmanship, use durable materials, and provide long-term satisfaction.

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