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Why rogue roofers are an ongoing concern

Complaints about rogue cold-calling roofers to the Confederation of Roofing Contractors (CORC) remain high. Our guest explains how you can avoid falling victim.

This is a guest post by Gemma Doherty of the Confederation of Roofing Contractors . All views expressed are her own, and not necessarily shared by Which?. 

Members of the public contact the Confederation of Roofing Contractors (CORC) every week to complain of ‘roofers’ knocking on their door, telling them they can immediately attend to work as they’re ‘in the area’.

It’s a problem that Hertfordshire Trading Standards reported here on Which? Conversation in February, and it hasn’t gone away.

Once a victim gives the authorisation to proceed, the contractor informs them that they have discovered that much more work is required and the cost is considerably more.

This puts the homeowner in an uncomfortable position as they feel pressured into making a snap decision. In most cases, it’s the wrong one. The work does not need doing.

Targeting vulnerable homeowners

The elderly and vulnerable in particular are being targeted, so the CORC is working closely with Trading Standards and Age Concern to ensure anyone looking to mislead a customer is brought to justice and prosecuted.

Read how the CORC works with Which? Trusted Traders to raise standards

In March 2019, the CORC was contacted by a care agency after one of its service users, who is elderly and has dementia, was approached on her doorstep by rogue roofers.

They told her that her roof was in serious disrepair and that she would need to pay them £5,000 to put it right. She signed contracts and waited for them to return the same day to carry out the work.

Fortunately a member of care staff contacted the CORC to discuss what had happened, and we advised that it should be stopped immediately. We managed to contact the roofer and the transaction and work was prevented. 

In April, a roofing company replicated the technique with an elderly, deaf gentleman living in Wales. He paid £13,500 for the ‘work’. Unfortunately, we were not contacted and his roof has been left in complete disrepair.

All his savings were stolen, so this month the CORC started a social media campaign to get his roof repaired free of charge. We’re delighted to say we’ve successfully found a contractor who is donating their time, skill and materials to help.

CORC advice

We provide a printable leaflet to put by your door, or send on to friends and relatives, to help warn them when unscrupulous traders come calling.

Our advice to anyone undertaking roofing works is to always get three quotes, and meet the traders who will be carrying out the work. Once you have those quotes together, decide on which you feel is a fair reflection of the job.

You are always welcome to call the CORC – we will go through the quotes with you.

A roofer should always provide documentation in a professional way (not just hand written on a piece of paper!) and you should make sure you have a contract including a 14-day cooling off period, and a breakdown of the works.

If you’re having more than 25% of your roof done, please call your local council and ask to speak to building regulation to see if they need to come out. It’s a completely free call and they will give you an answer over the phone.

Always ensure you have been given a receipt for payment and, if you are not happy with any aspect of the work, you are completely within your rights to hold back payment from the roofer until you’re satisfied, as long as you let them know exactly why you are holding the money back.

Do you have experience of a rogue roofer?

If you’re aware of any traders or ‘crews’ who are cold calling and operating in your area, please let us know immediately. All information received is totally confidential.

We are a completely free service here to help members of the public make the right decisions when hiring a roofer.

You are free to call us for any help and advice whenever you like on 01206 306600.

This was a guest post by Gemma Doherty of the Confederation of Roofing Contractors . All views expressed were her own, and not necessarily shared by Which?. 

Comments

A useful contribution but I would be surprised if many individuals would know the existence of the CORC, let alone contact them.

This seems, to me, to be a clear case of where we need a properly functioning local trading standards once again, to whom we can report such concerns and misdemeanours and expect action (and not through a third party like Citizens Advice).

There is no reason why any appropriate local authority [county council, London borough or metropolitan borough council, or combined authority] could not re-establish a comprehensive trading standards and consumer protection service. Just because the government changed the emphasis following the Consumer Rights Act and put Citizens Advice in as the gate-keeper does not mean that local authorities should not provide this function directly, it is just a matter of financial priorities; I expect the government removed any support funding at the same time and would disallow any new expenditure, but it might be a better purpose in the public interest than some of the other things local government funds [often with government backing].

“it might be a better purpose in the public interest than some of the other things local government funds . Yes, like a £256 000 payoff for a sacked County council chief exec (in England), a consultant paid £936 a day to fill a vacant job in a Scottish council which paid off one leaving directors £475 000 (it is reported).

Not relevant to roofing scams but perhaps we should hit the roof when we see public finds used like this?

mark says:
5 November 2020

Totally agree.
We have exactly the same trouble when we try to speak to someone about a rogue trader. Fill in a form, send in a letter, do an email…….by the time its acted on the traders are long gone !!

I have had my fair share of doorstep sales people over the years and I always politely decline their services as a matter or principle. If I want a job done I will do my own investigations and decide who I invite to provide an estimate. When I had my roof verges repaired I took advice from a friend who had recently used a local company to replace his roof. It would have been more difficult if it had been necessary to find a tradesman urgently.

I welcome anything that can be done to end exploitation of vulnerable people by opportunists.

mark says:
5 November 2020

You have done exactly the right thing.
Reputable contractors do not need to knock on peoples doors touting for work.

Quite so, Mark – and they will also have a fairly full order book so will not have spare time to go around hawking their services.

I was recently quoted £160 by a Which? Trusted Trader to clean the gutterings on my house. They were not done earlier in the year owing to Covid but I think that was a bit OTT.

Mark Vincent says:
31 October 2020

The quote could include VAT ,also it would depend on the size of your property.

To be fair, I would want to know the hourly rate and the estimated time for the job. The cost coulkd also be affected by whether or not the estimate is from a casual labourer or a VAT registered trader , who will dispose of the waste, and are with their own ladders etc and insurance should they damage your property or have an accident on your property.

Hi Beryl,

There are several tradespeople who could clean gutters – guttering specialists, who install, repair and maintain fascias, soffits and guttering. Some roofers will also carry out the work, while handymen and window cleaners will also be likely to do it. Each one of these trade categories are likely to charge different prices depending on their experience and the equipment they use.

The cost can also vary very much depending on the size of the property and the accessibility to the gutters themselves. On larger properties, with guttering running around all sides of the building, prices can easily reach £120 or more

We always recommend that consumers get at least three trades to quote, and give them as much detail and ask as many questions as possible. That way, it will be easier to compare and sense-check quotes and go with the company you feel most suits your needs and that you feel most comfortable in allowing onto your property.

A jackson says:
31 October 2020

Main problem for years has been the travelling community. Local authorities and the police know of the problem but do nothing for fear of being accused of racism

A word of warning on gutter cleaning:
one of our neighbours had his house gutters cleaned by a firm using brushes on the end of a carbon fibre tube about 4 metres long fed with water. The operative had his feet on the ground so he was unable to view inside the gutters. However, not long afterwards I was doing DiY on our gutters and fascia boards using scaffolding and was able to have a bird ‘s eye view of the neighbour’s gutters which were full of rubbish! So this technique using modern materials is not recommended. You do need to see inside the gutters using a ladder!

Claire B says:
4 November 2020

I had mine done with a water pole by the same people who clean the bins. I think they charged around £50 or so, after they had gone and it had dried there was mud everywhere, including all over my car. They came back and cleaned up, but I wouldn’t use this method again nor recommend it.

Mark S. says:
6 November 2020

I used to clean a friend’s gutters with a modified garden hoe, I reshaped it with a grinder so that it’s end fitted just nicely into the gutters and then I extended the handle so it had a longer reach so I didn’t have to move the ladders so often and that worked a treat.

Sylvia Fraser says:
4 November 2020

I came out of my gate Tuesday 3rd November when a small truck pulled up
I think there were 2 men in the cab.I had to be somewhere but I realised the man driving was shouting over to me.He said he was a roofer/ builder and I needed work done on my property. I was in a hurry and told him to go away.I hurried up the road and they drove past me shouting something obviously annoyed with me.

Ramesh Kapoor says:
4 November 2020

It happened to me. I was going out and this person nicely dressed and carrying a briefcase, came up to me to say that the back of the roof tiles are cracked and need fixing He asked me to let him in and show me where they are.
I told him sorry, that he can’t come in and how the hell he knows about the cracked tiles. Is he got a helicopter to see the top of my roof as there is a big apple tree in the back of the house.? After that, he was lost forwards and he grumbles something and couldn’t leave fast enough.

nik crosina says:
5 November 2020

I wish that tradesmen and women would have some more pride in their work and raise the standards themselves. Unfortunately, they do not have that pride. I am talking not about everyone in the trades but many feel they are entitled to pull the wool over the private consumer sector clients, as we as private people don’t know any better, and are way to fickle as clients anyways.
I would also welcome more pride in the education of the trades like apprenticeships of all sorts, as – if done properly – will lead to a job that more often than not is one that keeps society moving smoothly!
I feel – maybe wrongly – anyone can pose as a roofer, builder, plumber, etc and get away with it, as there are far too little KNOWN trade associations and far too many small, made-up ones that only serbver to ‘validate’ with a pretty logo the cowboys they serve.

Pride is a dangerous attribute for any roofer to have; it can lead to a fall. And I’m not sure it is a good measure of quality of workmanship. A five year old may take great pride in an uninhabitable birdhouse made of scrap timber, or an inedible cake.

We have a saying in software development: “You can have it good, you have have it quick, you can have it cheap. Now, which two would you like?”

Inevitably, the choice is quick and cheap. Then moan about the quality afterwards. It sounds like the same choices are made by the average consumer.

Mark S. says:
6 November 2020

I do most of my own work, and I’m currently taking my time installing central heating. And a friend of mine who is a retired professional has a huge detached house with extensions and miles of guttering, and he has his own big ladders and I used to clean out his gutters as he had a big problem with moss blocking them up and it really seriously blocks up the top part of the down pipes. But now I’ve fitted some long brushes in his gutters which keep the muck out but still let water in and I’ve fitted gutter siphons in the outlets which stop them getting blocked up, and I would recommend the brushes and the siphons if you can find them, they’re not so easy to find, but you can find some such stuff online. And some houses, like mine, have a very steep elevation at the front or back without adequate room for ladders so it’s a scaffolding job if you need anything doing high up like gutters, that’s when it gets expensive. And one thing about the gutter brushes is that they have a very hard wire running down the centre which is hard to cut without heavy duty cutters like bolt cutters so do be aware of that if you decide to get some as they sometimes need cutting to fit. And the plastic meshes which are fitted to gutters with clips often won’t fit because in my experience the gutters are all too often fitted too close to the underside of the overhanging slates or tiles so you can’t get your fingers in there to fit the clips, I’ve never seen any gutters all nice and easily accessible like those on the adverts for the mesh. The brushes don’t need any clips, they just tuck in to the gutters. And how about using a drone with a transmitting camera to survey your own roof and guttering and chimneys stacks etc. as well as those of friends and family etc.?