Roofing is expensive, and as a homeowner, you want to make sure that your roofing system doesn’t fail you. What are the first signs your roof may need a replacement? How to deal with roofing contractors and avoid scams?
In this video interview, Dmitriy Lipinskiy, the founder of Roofing Insights and experienced roofer, shares top roofing tips, explains issues that homeowners face when dealing with roofing contractors, and uncovers roofing scams.
Watch this video for the best insights on roofing, gutter guards, and roof installation.
Questions discussed in this video interview with a roofing expert:
- How long does a roof last
- Warning signs you need a new roof
- Typical roofing scams and frauds
- What questions to ask a roofing contractor
- Roofer’s safety: why ask for insurance
- How to choose and install gutter guards
- Can solar panels damage your roof
- What comes first: roofing or siding
- Roofing tips
Dmitry Lipinskiy: My name is Dmitry Lipinskiy. I'm the founder of Roofing Insights. We're the largest media company in the roofing industry. For 15 years, I've been in construction. I've been in the flooring business before, and I was a roofing business owner for about seven years. And today, we pretty much full-time do videos for roofers, for the homeowners. We do a lot of investigation videos, a lot of news coverage, and what's happening in the industry. I also teach roofers how to do a roofing business. We have an online business school with over 250 companies in the school.
How Long Can You Expect Your Roof to Last?
Michael: How long does a typical roof installation last?
Dmitry: In most markets, it's 15 to 20 years. So, 80% of roofs in the United States are asphalt shingles roofs. So, it's asphalt with granules on top of them to protect the asphalt. Life expectancy in a city like Minneapolis, it's 18 years. In Florida... It's like 15 to 20 years in most states. If you have trees and you don't have severe weather like Canada or the sun of Florida, you'll be lucky to get 30 years out of it. But most roofs will last anywhere from 15 to 20 years.
Warning Signs You May Need a New Roof
Michael: As a homeowner, shall I start worrying at the year 20 and do a preventive roof change, or do I wait until it leaks? What is the best approach?
Dmitry: I don't think anybody should wait until it leaks. So, there's a lot of visuals, like you can see cracks. If it changes colors, if you see blown shingles, definitely don't wait because roof leaks will cost you a lot.
What I would do at the very least is get it inspected. Maybe do a maintenance inspection. I mean, I've inspected many roofs that definitely have five, six years left in them. My neighbor right across the street, he has algae strikes. Another problem. So, I treated his roof four years ago. And four years ago, roofers were knocking on his doors, telling him roof's going to leak. We treated it. Four years later, algae are gone and his roof is still probably going to last another 5, 10 years. It's a 15-year-old roof now. So it's a good roofing system.
But overall, have it inspected. General maintenance, like we're talking about sealants.
Roofs usually leak around penetration, so shingles will not fail you. What will fail is pipe boot around your pipes, maybe a chimney flashing around your chimney and anywhere you have a valley or where siding meets the wall.
Those are trouble areas that need to be checked. But shingles by themselves, if you don't see missing shingles, they probably will be okay.
What Are Typical Roofing Scams and Fraud?
Michael: Are there typical roofing scams that consumers should be worried about?
Dmitry: Unfortunately, a lot. And on our channel, we published quite a few investigation videos from the news and stuff. So the average ticket is usually pretty high. It's almost like buying a car. Like every roof costs anywhere from $10,000 to $25,000, depending on the market, right?
If you're own a small town, a house in Alabama, your roof still will be like $10,000. So down payment for such a roof, 50%. The down payment will be about 50%. I just actually made a video today ‘How much should someone pay as a down payment?’ So very common, like only a few states regulating down payment amount.
Like in the state of California, it's 10% or $1,000. But common practice is to take 50% down, which in my opinion, is a little bit too much because materials only cost 30%.
So think about if you give someone $7,000 on a $14,000 roof and you never see them again.
So those would be number one. States like Texas and a lot of other places don't even require roofers to be licensed. So you have a door knocker coming to you, putting fear in your face like, "Hey, your roof is... The sky is falling. Your roof is going to leak. Look at this, you have missing shingles." Now you sign a contract, you give them money and you never see them again. That happens a lot more than people think. So definitely just straight-out rip-offs.
Sometimes it's a Ponzi scheme. So when the contractors will be in town for a couple of months, they'll collect as many checks as possible. They will do some work. They will take care of the first couple of clients, but then at one point, they will be just in the business of collecting clients. There's one story we just published, I think they have a fine judgment against them by the state of Colorado for $6 million.
It's not that high usually but think about, if you have every ticket of $10,000, you have 10 sales and you have 100k in your pocket. I mean, it's scary, like how much money, how fast they can sell. So it's usually will be some kind of class action.
It's very hard to chase those people too, even if you have a judgment against them. I mean, a lot of people will struggle to find the contractors or will not even know how to sue someone. Because if he's out of town, you'll have to sue someone in another state, unfortunately. So if you didn't do your homework, now you're out of luck. And it's very hard to chase people who steal money that away.
What Questions to Ask Your Roofing Contractor?
Michael: So what are the right questions? How do you check the credentials of the roofer before you give them the money?
Dmitry: I would say if your state requires licensing, definitely check with the state. Because like, for example, we're in Minnesota. Minnesota has a Department of Labor website where you can check any roofing company if they are registered with the state.
A state like Minnesota and few other states have similar, I'm pretty sure New York, Atlanta, have a contractor's fund. So in case if you do bad work or if you run away with the money, the state will come after you. They'll suspend your license. You will not be able to do the work anymore. So that's first and foremost. But there is a lot of rural areas where roofers don't have to be licensed.
In that case, the power of the internet. It's not like back in the day where you can ask your neighbors. We all go on the internet for reviews. Google that company.
If the company did not put themself on the internet, that's a red flag for me because it's cheap.
It's free. Anybody can go register. Whether you love it or hate it. Yelp, your Angel's list, your free profiles, Google my business page. If the business does not have those listings, ask yourself why. Why they're hiding from the internet?
Because if you cannot find them before you hire them, do you think you'll be able to find them after something goes wrong? Probably not.
Why Should You Ask Your Roofer For An Insurance?
Michael: The roofing, roofs are usually on top of the houses, which means they're removed from the ground. It is dangerous work. Shall I worry about the contractor falling down? God forbid.
Dmitry: If you didn't check his insurance, yes, because here's what's going to happen. Not only do you want to check their credentials, but checking contractor insurance is one of the most important things.
And good ones will give you that information during the sales presentation. They will tell you, "Hey, we're licensed with the state. Here's our work comp policy. Here's our general liability policy." What's happening is…
...if your contractor does not have a work comp and someone falls off the roof, you might be liable because money follows...
The lawyers who will go after, they will go either after insurance of the contractor first, or the next thing they're going to check is where did the accident occur. So your homeowner’s insurance also might be liable for it because there is no one else.
I mean, someone will have to pay. In the best-case scenario, tens of thousands of dollars for the injury. Worst case scenario, if someone dies or has to be on disability for a couple of years. Those lawyers usually will find loopholes and they will go after everyone.
And I did see, I did hear and read on few stories where it is homeowners insurance. It could be the builder of the house. If it's a brand new house building, his insurance might step in. Back in the day, about five years ago, I worked for a cabinet shop and one of the guys on a team cut his finger off.
For some reason, the cabinet shop did not have coverage for that guy and they ended up settling with the builder who was building a house. And they paid the disability claim essentially because the guy lost his finger. He will never be the same.
So as a homeowner, you should be cautious. I mean, accidents do happen and who knows who's going to pay for it.
How to Choose and Install Gutter Guards?
Michael: We have a bunch of reviews about different products to cover gutters on the roofs. Do you have favorite gutter coverings? Do you have things that you would recommend for people that are changing roofs? What if people don't care about and just clean the leaves regularly? What's your opinion?
Dmitry: Gutter covers, it's a very interesting industry. So everybody has them. Unfortunately, what you can find in big box stores does not work very well. As a matter of fact, my number one video, I think right now has like 800,000 or 900,000 views. It's the best and worst gutter covers. And the problem with the gutter covers is it's a do-it-yourself category. So a lot of people do it themselves.
Unfortunately, what you see in the big box stores fails within two or three years.
So you have millions of homes. You have hundreds of products. I would say 80%, 90% of them don't work for a long period of time. So they do fail.
I tell people all the time, do not go with the cheapest one. Like, for example, I'll give you just one example. I don't want to disparage the brand, but there is a sponge, like people literally put sponges inside them. All it does, it will last one or two years. It will absorb not only moisture but debris, seeds and you will have stuff growing from it. And it's also will change its form, going to get super dry, and you still will have to clean it.
So I tell people, why would you install something that you still need to clean a year later? And even owners of those brands, there are several of them, and they sell it at all big box stores. They say, "Yeah, once a year or once in two years, go remove it, rinse and put it back." I'm like, that just defeats the purpose of it. Why would you even have something like that?
So there's a lot of products that don't work. There are a few that work really well but are overpriced. My favorite is the micro-mesh type. Costco used to sell them. I work with one brand out of Florida called Leaf Solution. There's a few micro-mesh. As a type, I think micro-mesh is the best. There are a few others.
Stay away from plastics and stay away from brands that you see on a big TV.
That's what I see in comments to my videos, the most like nightmare stories.
Can Solar Panels Damage Your Roof?
Michael: Does it make sense to put solar panels on the roofs, not from the point of view of the savings, but what happens to the roofs, and what are the consequences of the decision? What people should think about before putting solar panels on the roofs?
Dmitry: If you consider putting solar on a roof, you have to be extremely careful who you're hiring. We just did a story with a contractor in California, a $70,000 claim, a roofing company absolutely messed up roofing system.
And what people don't understand is a lot of those deals you're not even buying. You're leasing the solar panels. You don't even own them. So people don't understand the agreements. People don't understand savings. They don't read the fine print. And at the end of the day, they are disturbing the roofing system.
So if you compromise your roofing system, you're in trouble. Like in that case, the house I visited a couple of weeks ago in Florida, they have three tenants. They lost two of them because of all of the leaks. And it's California, you don't have a lot of rain.
But it was a concrete tile roof, a very solid system. The company came in, completely messed it up. $70,000 later, you are not supposed to touch it. You cannot repair. A roofer cannot make repairs. The homeowner does not even own the system. So everything is compromised. You have very expensive legal action, and everybody is messed up and you have leaks in the house.
So my advice is read the fine print, understand where money is going.
Unfortunately, in the roofing business right now, in a solar business, and the roofing and solar started going more and more together. When people are buying a solar system, the amount of financing and the number of fees that go to the salespeople are sometimes going to be 30% or 40% of the cost. If you're financing it... So what I hear, what I see, and I've seen just a few companies who are doing, it's pretty disturbing. If you're buying a $40,000 system, $10,000 sometimes, sometimes $15,000 just goes to a third party in some kind of finance fee.
So their solar system only costs like 15 grand, but the home owner's financing is 40%. So there's so much money being made on the transaction. And it's not even going to the system itself. It just goes to a third-party, contractor, salespeople.
And at the end of the day, it's all good if you're covered, but if you're not covered, if in case of something goes wrong, if you don't have even own and nobody knows who's going to be fixing the leak, you're in trouble. So be careful. Read the fine print. Make sure financially you need it and you can get a return on investment later, because a lot of times, it makes no sense.
Solar is not for everyone. It takes a good size like the solar company has to give you a good estimate on savings.
It's not for every climate. Even in Minnesota, some people do it but... I mean, we're not in California or Florida. We don't get as much sun. And if you have a small house in Minnesota, you'll never see your money back. And you're jeopardizing your roofing system in the first place.
What Comes First: Roofing or Siding?
Michael: If someone is thinking about doing the siding, does it make sense to do roofing at the same time? Or, they can be separate jobs?
Dmitry: It could be absolutely separate jobs. The only thing I would say, if you're doing them together, do the roof first, do the siding later. The reason is, especially if you have asphalt siding. So like, it's almost impossible.
I've seen too many times where people throwing shingles down, the wind will catch up. And it's asphalt essential. Especially on a hot day, it might blowback. It might hit the siding, so you might have marks and stuff like that. So it makes sense to do the roof first, siding second. It can be done in reverse.
Roofers just have to be careful removing materials because of these scuffs and marks, we'll remove them. I mean, you're removing 10,000 pounds of material. Sometimes you don't have enough overhang, and the wind is always there. So it can be done at the same time. It can be a separate time. But if you do it together, do the roof first, siding second.
What Are the Top Roofing Tips?
Dmitry: Just do your research. Never been pressured. If you have a roofer in your house, there are two different scenarios. One is if you did your research and you called them and they're asking you for a sale, it's one scenario.
... if they knock at your door, whether it's gutter cover sales or roofing sales, they're going to try to build urgency.
They're going to pretty much draw this picture that if you don't hire them today, your roof going to start leaking, the sky's falling. Take a step back. You're hiring them. You're interviewing them. If you feel the pressure, don't even do it. And especially in the gutter world, like, I mean, I've seen companies charging $12,000 for gutter covers. It's like more than we charge for roofs.
But if you don't buy them, they're going to keep dropping the price until it's $4,000 or $5,000. So ask yourself why they're playing this gimmick because if they want a sale right there, you have to do research on them.
If you don't feel comfortable with a contractor, ask them to leave, ask them to do the research on them. And if you don't find enough information online, you're not going to have leverage if something goes wrong. I would not hire a contractor who does not exist on the internet. You want to make sure you protect it. You want to make sure you've done your research.
And if you're not comfortable, do not put that signature. It's just not worth it.
Like you have to be confident. It's one of the biggest purchases that you're going to make. Besides cars, it's probably one of the biggest. For your house, it's very important. And you don't want to be one of those nightmare stories.
We thank Dmitriy Lipinskiy for the interview and for sharing his roofing tips with consumers. If you’ve experienced any issue with a roofing company, leave a comment below or write a review on PissedConsumer.com.
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