BUILD BETTER. Save Money. Don't Be A Victim of Fraud.

Whether you're rebuilding after a storm or re-roofing, learn how:

Don't Goof When You Re-Roof ® is an initiative of Smart Home America, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. We help people save money, build stronger, and get the right insurance. Contact us if you have questions. Build Resilient

*Savings are based on where you live and the discounts given by your insurer. 

Fraud

Fraud can happen to anyone. A storm damages your home and you want to get it fixed and move on, or you may just need some work done.

STOP!

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A contractor may look and sound legit, they may even offer a great deal, but don’t let your eagerness cause you to goof, waste money and give yourself years of heartache. 

It is on YOU to protect yourself and do the research before giving anyone your hard earned cash. 

Use our Top Ten Questions To Avoid Contractor Fraud below as a guide and please contact us if you have any questions.

Q: 1) Should I hire the first contractor to knock on my door?

Read Answer

A:

Never recommended, ever. 

Door knocking and solicitation are HUGE red flags for fraud. 

If you think you have damage, take pictures, call your insurer and get an adjuster yourself! 

Don't believe the claims from roofers or contractors that you'll get a "free" roof or won't have to pay your deductible. Those are false and fraudulent statements and you will need to pay your deductible. When's the last time an insurance company let you out of your deductible?

In the meantime, do what you can to protect your property and get at least three bids for the work. Any contractor you work with should be licensed, insured, bonded (if required), reputable and local. Avoid out of town, fly by night contractors in to make a quick buck and who you may never be able to find if you have a problem down the road.

Get copies (or take pictures) of business, general liability, workman's comp insurance (not auto), business license(s), contractor's license (if needed in your area), bonding and referrals for any contractor you get a bid from. Then, follow-up with their insurer, your state's insurance departmentyour state's contractor's licensure board, city or municipality, building code departments and call the references.

Do not let anyone push you into signing anything. You can always walk away and call or submit a complaint to the Better Business Bureau (www.BBB.org)

Q: 2) Do I really need three bids for the work?

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A:

Always. 

Shop around, get at least three written quotes (on company letterhead). Make sure to get references and proof of insurance (general liability, workman's comp), licensing and bonding. Then check on those items before comparing quotes (see FAQ #1). 

The contractors you request quotes from should come out to your house to complete a detailed assessment of your home to understand the work that is needed before quoting you. Accept nothing less.

Also, make sure the quote and contract include a clause for additional, legitimate work that may be needed after the project has started. This happens when re-roofing or rebuilding because some areas of the home are not accessible before a project starts. Unless your contractor has x-ray vision, these are legitimate costs you should plan for, just in case. 

Without this clause, you could be scammed because fraudulent contractors use "surprise" costs to line their pockets without the need for them.  

Q: 3) Do I pay my contractor the full cost, upfront?

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A:

Never. 

A small down payment is OK after you sign a contract. Anywhere from 10% to 1/3 of the jobs cost is reasonable. 

Reputable contractors have a line of credit with their suppliers and can afford to wait until the job is done, and done right, to take the full payment.

Some states have laws that set limits on the amount of a down payment contractors can ask for. Find out by contacting your state contractors licensure board.

Also, don't believe any claims that you'll get a "free" roof or won't have to pay your deductible. Those are false and fraudulent and you will need to pay your insurance deductible if you're filing and insurance claim.

SPEAKING OF CONTRACTS - Your contract should have everything listed in it that you wanted or asked for. If it's not included, DO NOT SIGN IT until it is included in the written contract or estimate. Not including requested work in a quote or contract is a common fraud technique to get more money out of you. Also, you can be held liable for fraud if you're filing and insurance claim for any work not listed in the contract. If it's not in writing, recorded or in photos, it didn't happen.

REVIEW YOUR CONTRACT - If something you requested is NOT included in your final contract, and you ask for it later, it will cost you much more. Yes, even if you already agreed on it verbally and shook hands. REVIEW YOUR CONTRACT and don't sign anything until it's right. If the contractor won't update your estimate, fire them and get a new one. 

FINAL PAYMENT- ALWAYS withhold your final payment, and your sign off on the work, until you are satisfied and after your home is cleared of all construction debris. 

TIP - Use the downpayment as a negotiation point if you like their work but are uncomfortable paying what they ask for up-front. Don't be afraid to walk away. 

Q: 4) Should I believe a contractor when they say they are licensed, insured, bonded and reputable?

Read Answer

A:

No. This is where you take control. 

When getting your three bids, no matter who the contractor is, get copies (or take pictures) of insurance (business insurance, workman's comp), business license(s), contractor's license (if needed in your area), bonding and referrals.

Then follow-up with their insurer, your state's insurance department, your state's contractor's licensure board, city or municipality, building code department and call the references.

If they can't or won't provide the information, move on and get another bid. 

Q: 5) Do I need to contact my insurance agent?

Read Answer

A:

Yes. 

This is good advice for a few reasons:

    1. They will be able to help you with your claim and give you advice.
    2. You may be eligible for discounts on your insurance if you build back stronger using certain standards, like FORTIFIED

Q: 6) Should I let my roofer or contractor work with my insurer?

Read Answer

A:

No. 

You should be the one to contact and communicate with your agent or insurance company, at least initially.

If your agent wants to speak with your contractor, that is the only time they should talk. It’s way too easy for scam artists to work the system and you. Get an update from your insurer after their conversation.

NOTE- If you get caught up in a scam or insurance fraud, even unintentionally (like blindly signing a contract without talking with your insurer first), you can also be held liable for fraud, face fines or worse. Insurance fraud is a crime. 

Q: 7) Do I need a permit?

Read Answer

A:

Maybe, and you need to find out. 

If your area enforces Building Codes, there is a good chance you’ll need a permit for a new roof or repairs.

Make sure your contractor pulls the permit, that it has your address on it and that you get a copy (take a picture if needed).

If you have questions, contact your local Building Department or Planning and Zoning Board. 

Q: 8) Is it okay if my contractor only works on the weekend?

Read Answer

A:

Not usually. 

Now, this is a HUGE RED FLAG if a contractor or roofer will ONLY work on the weekend…the time Building Code offices are closed and no one is looking over their shoulder. This is a possible sign of unpermitted, shoddy and fraudulent work.  

Now, if you've talked with your insurer, have done your research, picked a qualified, licensed, bonded, reputable and insured contractor, have a signed contract and a building permit (with your address on it), then sure, weekend work is okay. 

Q: 9) Can I be my own contractor?

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A:

You really need to know what you’re getting into.

By acting as your own contractor, you may be personally assuming the liability for any injuries or damage that could happen on the job site if you do not have the right insurance and licensing. If you are using sub-contractors, this is even more important.

Be mindful of the local and state Building Codes, laws and regulations. In many areas, contractors must have general liability insurance, a business license, be bonded and hold a state Home Builder or contractor's license.

Q: 10) After the work is finished, do I need to let my insurer know?

Read Answer

A:

Yes. 

They will want to know that the work is done and may have some additional information or questions for you.

NOTE- After making major repairs, or upgrading to FORTIFIED, we recommend shopping for your insurance coverage (again, at least three quotes). 

You could save money and get better coverage. Look into Replacement vs. ACV coverage. Bottom line, get the best value for your budget. Learn more

Your Roof

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Your roof is your home's first line of defense, ironically it's also weakest link. Without a strong roof, you’re vulnerable. Storm shutters, new granite countertops, and energy efficient, smart everything. All of it is useless when your roof is damaged, water gets in and your house fills up like a bucket. 

Roofs have many parts, not just shingles, and wood and they can be pretty complicated too. If one part fails, the rest follows, making it easy for water to get inside your home and destroy all of your irreplaceable stuff.

Deciding to get a new roof is big, expensive and one of the longest commitments you'll make. Take a minute to learn more before investing in a new roof before you're stuck with it for 15 or 20 years.

What’s FORTIFIED?

OK, this fortified has nothing to do with vitamins, wine or cereal. Now that we're clear. 

Re-roofing is a chance to strengthen your home and put cash back in your pocket. But how? Get a FORTIFIED roof. It's proven to protect your home storm damage and  is saving people money on lots of money on their homeowners insurance.*

There's more good news. Most homes can be FORTIFIED affordably if you time it right. Re-roofing is one of those times.

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FORTIFIED Home™ is a nationally recognized building standard based on over 20 years of research and testing by the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS).

You know the crash test dummies for cars used by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety? Same idea, but IBHS doesn’t use them. Instead, they "crash test" houses and buildings to learn how to build them better and stronger so they are more disaster-resistant. 

The FORTIFIED Home program goes beyond current building codes (it is code-plus) and strengthens your home against storm damage. It's unique, common sense approach to construction requires documenting and verifying all aspects of work. Watch this video and learn about the FORTIFIED program in three minutes.


You probably heard the certificate is good for five years in that video, right? That's because a FORTIFIED designation is renewable! After the initial work is done, you'll need to have it reinspected by a FORTIFIED Evaluator after 5 years. That's to make sure your roof has at least 5 years of life left and that your home hasn't been damaged or if you've added on, that it's been done to the FORTIFIED standard. Contact an Evaluator if your home is damaged or if plan to add on. 

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Now, to get a FORTIFIED roof you have to start with a FORTIFIED Evaluator™. Period! These are third-party, trained professionals who document your project from beginning to end. For existing homes, they also perform an in-depth review of your home before any construction starts and create a detailed report telling you what steps will need to be taken. This is called a Current Conditions Report. 

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When you decide to get a FORTIFIED roof, tell your Evaluator and they can help you create a scope of work for the contractor you choose. Then, your Evaluator will document all of the work and when the job is finished, they'll submit the final report to engineers at IBHS. They certify all homes FORTIFIED Home™. For a roof, you'd receive a FORTIFIED Home™ Bronze designation.

*Insurance savings are based on the level of FORTIFIED chosen and available discounts in your state.

Sponsors

Thank you to our sponsors... who don't believe in goofing when re-roofing. Learn how they can help you build stronger, save on insurance and protect your home.

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Insurance Savings

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A FORTIFIED roof qualifies your home for insurance discounts in a number of states. 

Find your insurance discounts, other incentives, or funding available in your area. Expand the map or click here for a list.

Currently, five states: Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi Oklahoma and North Carolina have discounts based on FORTIFIED. It is written into law.

Oklahoma begins allowing its new discounts April 2018. Other states give discounts because FORTIFIED meets their building requirements for mitigation, but these aren't as easy to add up because they're "al carte" and can be missed.   

If you know about insurance incentives not listed on this map, contact us! We're about helping people and partnership. 

Get FORTIFIED

Get your FORTIFIED roof, the insurance discounts and the stronger home that comes with it by following these eight steps.

If you do nothing else, contact a FORTIFIED Evaluator.

  1.  Contact A FORTIFIED Evaluator - Do this first! They’ll evaluate your home and create a Current Conditions Report. Then, once you decide to get a FORTIFIED roof, they’ll help create a scope of work for quotes, document the work and submit the final inspection report to IBHS engineers to make sure your roof meets FORTIFIED Home standards.
  2. Review Your Current Conditions Report - This tells you what needs to be done to get your FORTIFIED roof. Once you have your Current Conditions Report, contact your Evaluator to develop a scope of work for contractor bids, or if you have any questions.
  3. Get Three Bids - Yep, shop around.... *and read the Top Ten Questions To Avoid Contractor Fraud before you give anyone a dime!
    • Get proof that roofers and contractors are licensed, bonded and insured (general liability and workman's comp).
    • Make sure the bids include all of the requirements for the “FORTIFIED Home™ Bronze Designation” from your Current Conditions Report. If they don't, or worse, won't do it: get another quote.
    • Roofers and contractors can be very specialized. Make sure they can perform all the work needed to get your roof FORTIFIED.
  4. Choose Your Contractor - While any contractor can do the work, (as long as they strictly follow the guidelines), FORTIFIED Wise™ Professionals are certified and have gone through specialized training to understand the program. 
  5. Use The Right Products - Using the right products is key to FORTIFIED. Give your contractor this link to find FORTIFIED qualified products
  6. Take Action - Let your Evaluator know you’ve decided to get a “FORTIFIED Home Bronze Designation” for your roof. 
    • The Evaluator must be involved in the process from start to finish.
    • Connect your Evaluator and contractor by phone, email, text or in person.  
    • Your Evaluator will come out during the work and after the project is complete. The number of visits will depend on the work needed.
  7. Paperwork - Thankfully, this is what the Evaluator is paid for. They document and take pictures of all the work and submit a detailed report to IBHS engineers, who review and award FORTIFIED Home Designations.
  8. Save Money - Once you get your FORTIFIED Home Designation (a certificate), shop for your insurance and save $! We recommend getting three-five quotes; you may be surprised at the savings available. 
    • Once you decide on an insurer, give them your FORTIFIED Designation to start saving. Your savings will vary based on where you live and your insurer. 

Shoppers Guide



Shopping for your insurance isn't fun, but you can do fun things with the money you'll save by asking the right questions. We recommend you shop your insurance every few years and with three to five insurance companies. Especially after you re-roof! 

Asking the right questions will save you money and get you the right coverage, FORTIFIED roof or not. Use our Insurance Shopper's Guide to understand your home insurance better and ask our Top 10 Questions about Homeowners Insurance to help you get the best value. 

This free guide was created with the University of Alabama and is useful for homeowners who live anywhere near the coast. 

It helps people walk through:

Remember, the cheapest coverage is not the best. Keep your budget in mind and get good coverage vs. the lowest price, if you can. 

FAQs

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We hope these Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) clear up most of your questions or concerns. If not, contact us. Email info@smarthomeamerica.org or call 1-855-742-7233

Q: First, if you're asking any of these questions, contact a FORTIFIED Evaluator now, please.

Read Answer

A:

Contact a FORTIFIED Evaluator today!

  • Can my roof be FORTIFIED if it is less than 10 years old?
  • Doesn’t my local building code already require a FORTIFIED roof?
  • My metal roof automatically qualifies for FORTIFIED, right?
  • A good contractor built my home, how do I get my certificate?
  • What if I know a good a contractor, like my brother, sister, dad, cousin or my best friend Steve's old high school roommate?
  • I can pull my own permit, do I need a contractor to re-roof or can I do it myself?

Q: What! I already re-roofed. Did I goof?

Read Answer

A:

Maybe not. Contact a FORTIFIED Evaluator to determine your options. We’ll level with you; it can be more expensive, in some case much more, to get a FORTIFIED roof after you’ve already done all the work. You do have options - you can use closed cell polyurethane foam (sometimes called hurricane foam) to create a secondary water barrier and increase the strength of your roof. Contact a FORTIFIED Evaluator and at least find out what your options are. They can help.

Q: How big are the FORTIFIED discounts and are they worth it?

Read Answer

A:

It depends on what insurance company you are with and where you live. You should shop for your coverage every two years and we recommend getting five separate quotes before deciding. Review our insurance savings section for some more information or contact us. For instance, in Alabama, homeowners are required to receive up to 35% off their wind insurance premiums with a FORTIFIED™ roof. Other states have varying discount and incentive programs. Check with your insurance agent or state department of insurance and make sure you get the savings you deserve.

Q: My roofer insists that putting a metal roof over my old shingles is the best option. Is that right?

Read Answer

A:

Putting a new roof over an old shingle roof is never a good idea. It can actually make the roof vulnerable to leaks and severely restrict your insurance coverage options. The best practice is to ALWAYS remove the old roof covering to allow for an inspection of the roof decking for rotted wood or a weak roof deck that needs additional nailing.

Q: Is a FORTIFIED roof really expensive?

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A:

In most cases, getting a FORTIFIED roof only adds a small amount to the overall cost of re-roofing. That said, because your roof is a system made of many parts, not just shingles or metal, your roof may require additional retrofits to earn a FORTIFIED Home™ Bronze Designation. The only way to really know how much it will cost is to contact a FORTIFIED Evaluator and have them perform an evaluation before you start your re-roofing project. Read the FORTIFIED “cheat sheet” for a quick rundown of what is required under the FORTIFIED program.

Q: I hear a new roof qualifies for insurance credits anyways, is that the same thing as the FORTIFIED discount?

Read Answer

A:

While some insurance companies may provide a small credit for a new roof, the credit is generally much smaller and cannot be renewed like the FORTIFIED Home discount. Keep in mind too, a FORTIFIED roof is designed to protect the interior and your possessions from water damage. A “normal” or code compliant roof is not designed with this additional protection in mind. Your discounts will vary based on the level of FORTIFIED you achieve and where you live. Visit our Insurance Savings section for more information.

Q: I have lived here 10/20/30/40/50 years and have never had any damage, why should I get a FORTIFIED roof?

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A:

Not all homes are damaged in storms. As roofs age, they begin to lose their ability to resist the wear and tear Mother Nature dishes out. Your roof may survive one storm and sustain major roof damage several years later due to the effects of weathering and exposure. FORTIFIED homes have been proven to survive with less damage, giving you a better chance of returning to your home after a storm and being able to sleep in your own bed.

Q: How is a FORTIFIED roof different from a “normal” roof? Don't the Building Inspectors already look for these things?

Read Answer

A:

Building Codes are minimum standards. A “normal”, or code compliant roof, meets the minimum (lowest) standards for wind resistance, fire resistance and weathering protection for your area. This is what Building Inspectors look for; that your home, and roof, meet the local code.

FORTIFIED is code+ in most areas and requires a third party FORTIFIED Evaluator to perform additional checks and file documentation to ensure your home is built to FORTIFIED standards. A FORTIFIED roof will add additional protection for the interior of your home and your possessions. Even as a FORTIFIED roof ages, the additional requirements provide superior protection from water leaks, which cause the most damage and the largest claims during a storm. 

Additionally, a FORTIFIED roof is not just about shingles or sealing your roof deck; additional steps may be needed to strengthen your roof to meet the FORTIFIED Home standard. Contact an Evaluator to be sure.

Q: I have a FORTIFIED roof, is my house invincible?

Read Answer

A:

Your house is FORTIFIED, not a fortress. 

One is strong and costs you less to own, the other is a fortress (with a moat and everything). Our goals with FORTIFIED are to make your house stronger, give you peace of mind and greatly increase the chances that you have a livable home to come back to after a storm, not to mention save you money on your insurance. 

Let’s be clear, GET OUT when told to evacuate. 

Q: Do I have to use a specific contractor or can I use anyone?

Read Answer

A:

Any contractor can perform the FORTIFIED improvements if they strictly follow the process. However, the FORTIFIED Home program offers specialized training and maintains a list of FORTIFIED Wise Professionals who have taken courses and demonstrated knowledge of the requirements.

Q: My contractor says we don't need a building permit to replace the roof, is this true?

Read Answer

A:

It depends. There are some areas that do not have building departments and do not enforce any building codes. In areas with building departments, a permit to replace your roof may be required. Check with your local building department or planning and zoning department.

Q: How does a FORTIFIED roof save me money?

Read Answer

A:

Owning a home costs money: mortgage, insurance, utilities, taxes, and maintenance- it adds up. Throw in the expense of an insurance claim or two, and your costs just jumped. These are the costs of ownership, and they never stop. Savings on your wind insurance premiums can pay for the expenses of FORTIFIED upgrades over the life of your roof. It’s a worthwhile investment with many benefits; peace of mind, lower risk, and lower insurance rates, to name a few.

Resources

Dive into the details of FORTIFIED with these resources and tips. You can also let a  FORTIFIED Evaluator guide you into the details. It's your choice.

Videos

Brochures, studies, manuals, and materials

Links and Tips

Funding

That’s right, there are programs that will help you get a FORTIFIED roof.

Strengthen Alabama Homes SAH  
Strengthen Alabama Homes Now taking applications for homeowners in Mobile and Baldwin Counties, AL. who want up to $10,000 to get a FORTIFIED roof. 

MyStrongHome
MyStrongHome
can fortify your home at no upfront cost to you. Learn more

USDA  
Single Family Housing Repair Loans & Grants 
provides loans to very-low-income homeowners to repair, improve or modernize their homes or grants to elderly very-low-income homeowners to remove health and safety hazards   

HUD
 HUD 203(k) Loans enables homebuyers and homeowners to finance both the purchase (or refinancing) of a house and the cost of its rehabilitation through a single mortgage or finance the rehabilitation of their existing home. 


 This study by the University of Alabama has found that FORTIFIED increases the value of a home by nearly 7 percent. Not funding, but it's equity.

Contact Us

If you have questions, email DontGoof@SmartHomeAmerica.org or call 1-855-742-7233.