The last thing you want to deal with is a roofing contractor cutting corners on one of the most critical parts of your home: your roof.

Shoddy workmanship could lead to the need for more repairs or earlier roof replacement, and they could also put you and your family at risk. Some dangers of poor roof construction include failing roof shingles, pests getting into your attic, and water damage and leaks leading to interior damage, mold, and mildew.

To help, we’re sharing the top red flags that your roofing contractor is cutting corners so that you can catch the problem early.

Subcontracting Roofing Work

Some roofers offer much lower prices because they subcontract the roof replacement or project to others.

Unfortunately, you can’t vet subcontractor work the same way an established roofing company can be vetted through customer reviews, Better Business Bureau information, and more. This makes it impossible to know the quality of work that you’ll receive. Often, subcontractors will have poorer workmanship than an established, well-reviewed contractor performing their own work.

Skimping on Nails and High-Quality Roofing Materials

A common way that roofing professionals cut corners is by choosing cheap roofing materials and not using enough nails for your roofing needs.

Some roofing companies choose to skimp on how many nails they use to reduce costs. Unfortunately for the homeowner, this can lead to shingles being easily lifted off and blown away by strong winds. Another downside is that a contractor who doesn’t use enough nails may invalidate your roof or home warranty if they don’t follow the roof installation guidelines closely. This costs you far more than the roof repairs needed to replace shingles in the long run.

Another way roofing companies save money is by choosing inexpensive roofing materials. Always ask about the materials your roofer is planning on using, from the drip edges to the decking, the new flashing, underlayment, asphalt shingles, and the metal roofing.

Today’s Homeowner Tips

Ask about the different roofing material options you can choose from that meet building codes in your area and why they prefer their recommended materials. Do your own research about the mentioned brands and check if the brands are highly recommended or second-grade. If possible, get another opinion from a different roofing company about what materials they recommend for your new shingles, water shield, penetrations, etc.

Poor Workmanship

Examine your roofer’s work on the project as they go and look for common signs of a poor roofing job. Common signs of poor workmanship include:

  • Exposed roof edges
  • Loose flashing
  • Gaps in panel seams
  • Scratches on metal panels

You may also notice that a roofer has oversealed or undersealed parts of your roof with caulking.

While these minor installation errors may not seem that bad, they can make your roof vulnerable to water damage over time.

Suspiciously Low Roofing Bid

If something seems too good to be true, it probably is. If you receive multiple roofing service bids while choosing a roofing company, and one stands out as much less expensive than the rest, be wary.

Naturally, it can be tempting to save money by hiring the roofer with the lowest bid, but this is a common tactic that shady companies use to gain more customers. Some may keep their costs down by using substandard roofing materials, while others may raise the price of a roofing replacement later by adding upgrades or extra charges for “unforeseen” issues.

Now, don’t automatically assume that a company is cutting corners if it adds additional charges for unforeseen issues later on, as this is somewhat common no matter how great a company is at planning. However, if a company suddenly raises the price after accepting the bid, this is a warning sign of a potentially shady organization.

Irresponsible Work Practices

Professionalism and safety should be at the forefront of your roofing professional’s mind. For example, a roofing company that leaves roof panels all over your yard is exposing these roofing materials to the elements and causing potential tripping hazards.

Another irresponsible work practice is having your underlayment exposed outside for too long, although certain types of underlayment can be left out longer than others. You’ll also want to watch for improper construction materials and debris disposal. Most reputable roofing professionals will bring a dumpster with them so that they can properly dispose of these materials.

Safety practices are essential because you don’t want anyone to get hurt, especially while they’re on your property. Pay close attention to how the roofers operate. Are they properly setting up their ladders and wearing safety equipment? If not, they may be taking other liberties with your project.

Lastly, watch out for how professional your roofing contractor is through their actions. Are they polite to you and your family? Do they show up on time consistently? Are they following through with their commitments? If not, this is a clear red flag.

Poor Installation of Water Shields and Ice Shields

Building codes and manufacturer guidelines typically require roofers to install water and ice shields on your roof. These are usually mandated to be installed 24 inches from the exterior wall. However, a shady company may try to save money by installing only the bare minimum, putting your roof at risk of water damage and pricey repairs in the future.

Today’s Homeowner Tips

Speak to your contractor about the local building codes and guidelines and ask about how many they’re installing and what the minimum in your area is. If they’re hesitating to install more than the bare minimum, you may want to consider other options.

Poor Communication

A roofing project is a significant undertaking, and there should be clear and frequent communication between you and your roofing contractor. If you can’t get along with your roofing contractor or they’re challenging to get ahold of, steer clear of this company.

A reputable contractor will initiate communication with you, provide you with periodic updates on the project, and be happy to answer any concerns you may have.

The Roofing Estimate Doesn’t Itemize Each Service

A reputable and legitimate company shouldn’t cut corners by hiding any part of the service. Without being prompted, your roofer should give you a printout listing all the individual services they’re performing and their prices. If they don’t provide you with this willingly, go with a different company.

Additionally, don’t be afraid to ask your roofer about the estimate. Some roofing companies may sneak in illegitimate fees, services, or upgrades, so if you’re confused about any listed services, don’t hesitate to ask.

Final Thoughts

A reputable and excellent roofing company is a must-have for your roofing project. Trying to save money by going with the least expensive roofer or opting for less expensive materials will often only lead to a huge headache when your roof is leaking, pests are infiltrating your home, and you rack up huge bills in roof repairs.

Don’t skip your research. Properly vet your roofer and look over every aspect of the estimate before choosing your company. The extra effort may help you avoid dealing with a shoddy roofing project.

Besides entrusting your roofing projects to a well-established roofing company, consider subscribing to a respected home warranty provider for roof maintenance, repairs, and replacements as needed.

Editorial Contributors
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Elisabeth Beauchamp

Senior Staff Writer

Elisabeth Beauchamp is a content producer for Today’s Homeowner’s Lawn and Windows categories. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with degrees in Journalism and Linguistics. When Elisabeth isn’t writing about flowers, foliage, and fertilizer, she’s researching landscaping trends and current events in the agricultural space. Elisabeth aims to educate and equip readers with the tools they need to create a home they love.

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Lora Novak

Senior Editor

Lora Novak meticulously proofreads and edits all commercial content for Today’s Homeowner to guarantee that it contains the most up-to-date information. Lora brings over 12 years of writing, editing, and digital marketing expertise. She’s worked on thousands of articles related to heating, air conditioning, ventilation, roofing, plumbing, lawn/garden, pest control, insurance, and other general homeownership topics.

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