Here at Garvey Roofing Inc. we get calls from people who are asking for either inspections or estimates on houses that are being sold. We get quite a few calls for these because we give free estimates, which people take to mean that we also do free inspections as well, which we don’t, and here’s why:
(It should be noted that we do give free high-fives, but only if the given physical proximity to the requested high-five is within, at most, 20 feet. However, after the first two, we charge $5 per. Low-Fives are extra, and Too-Slows will be met with dirty looks and bad karma.)
When a house is up for sale, there is one seller (homeowner or someone representing them) and usually anywhere from five to 87 prospective buyers. We rarely ever get calls from the seller, because the roof is usually taken care of already or it’s fine as is. And if we do get calls from sellers, they aren’t sellers yet, as they have yet to put the house on the market.
We don’t do free inspections or estimates for buyers because it has never, and I really do mean never, resulted in anything. Here’s what happens:
A house goes up for sale and the roof needs work, it looks like it might need work, or (the usual case) someone just wants to cover their bases and make sure the roof is A-Okay before they buy the home. There are also scenarios where someone requires a certificate from a bona fide roofer to give to their insurance company stating the roof is alright and won’t slide off the house after the home is sold/insured/whatever, leaving no survivors. (We give those, by the way- certificates of I’m A Roofer And This Roof Is Dandy. Not sliding roofs.)
So, they (back to the buyers, now) spread the net and call a ton of roofers to come and give a free estimate or inspection. If it turns out that something needs to be done, they get all the estimates at the end of the day and pick the cheapest. Then either they go with that one (which never works out) or start to try and haggle other companies to match or beat the cheapest estimate given.
They’re essentially trying to pit roofing contractors against each other to have a bidding war while they sit back, wait for the smoke to clear, and then cheapest price to emerges, dead-eyed and malnourished, throwing itself at their feet, begging for water in ancient Assyrian.
This also implies that these people see roofers as desperate or low enough to partake in this kind of crap, which speaks to the whole Dirty Construction Worker stereotype. I’m going out on a limb and being presumptive, but at the same time, I’m probably more right than not because of what I’ve seen and heard thus far.
And sometimes what happens is they’ll pay someone (who is usually just a general contractor of the unscrupulous nature- someone with just enough legit paperwork to back up their claim and doesn’t speak English) to give a really low-ball estimate that isn’t anywhere near realistic. Then they play off that to get a better deal from actual roofers. This is one of those No, I Can’t Prove It With A Link To An Article situations. Once more, just roll with me on this.
When the game is rigged, the best way to play it to not play at all. These are all the bad examples of this, which are, unfortunately, enough to make us avoid the whole situation entirely.
That being said, we’ve had buyers come to us and offer to pay for our time, which tells us they aren’t exploitative and, of course, we’ll come by. They even get a few free high-fives. Yet, when I said never, I meant it… these have never resulted in work because we aren’t the cheapest. So, there’s that.
On the other side of the coin are the sellers/homeowners. Sellers good. Sellers are good because:
A. There’s just one, and
B. They (typically) understand that in order to sell a house for a good price, some money must be spent on making the house worth more.
If you’re thinking that we take ill to the idea that someone would go out and get multiple estimates and then go with the cheapest, you’re wrong. It would be stupid to just get one estimate from one roofer and think you’re good. It’s risky to do that. It also makes perfect sense for someone to go with the cheapest estimate because, ya know… money. However, and I’ve covered this before in this blog: buyer beware. Do some research, and again, don’t just go with one source. Furthermore, no Angie’s List or Yelp.
So, if you’re going to do your homework on a company, don’t just Google them, look at the three ratings visible on the immediate screen, draw conclusions, and move on. Spend more than 15 seconds on this.
If you’ve gotten all your estimates on a roofing problem, maybe 5-6 or so, and then there’s the super cheap one, the one that is 25-30% cheaper than the one above it… please throw that one out. Burn it even! (in the fireplace)
Also, please refer back to my post about online ratings.
Understand that there are people out there who, like us, take pride in their work, enjoy what they do, and charge for the quality they know they are providing. And as a result, we aren’t going to be the cheapest bid. If you wanted to get a new appliance, computer, car, or go on vacation… wouldn’t you be a little suspicious at the one that looked great but was, at least, half the price of all the others? Apply the same principle here. At the same time, be patient. Roofing isn’t Starbucks customer service. Iced blended composition shingle coffee beverages probably wouldn’t meet FDA approval anyways.