I read somewhere recently that April was the wettest in over 40years here in Ireland, most of the rain fell in a matter of days and many peoples roofing weaknesses were left exposed.
I think we had seven call outs in a single afternoon, all of which were due to roof leaks, and the thing that surprised me most was the amount of jobs we went to that the customers told us they thought they had their problem sorted by other roofers only weeks or months previously.
One woman we went to in Naas, co.Kildare, had only days before hand paid her painters, after the leaks from her roof left her house in need of repainting, only for it all to be undone by the same problem occurring again a couple of weeks later.
She found a roofer that served the area in the phone book, who called out to inspect and fix her roof. I can imagine that when you've water coming through light fittings and down walls you will obviously go with the first guy that calls and will probably agree to whatever price he gives just to get it sorted, but this where you risk not knowing what you are getting for your money.
These guys, from what I saw, mixed up some mortar and brought a tube of bathroom sealant onto the roof to do the job, sealing whatever they could in the hope of solving the problem, and not giving a toss about how it looked. She told us they were there for no more than a few hours and in that space of time found them ignorant and intimidating. It probably took us the same amount of time to find the real cause of the leaks, and a further day and half to to undo and redo what was needed to be done, and all for less than these fellas charged her for doing nothing other than make a mess.
As well as cowboys, there are also a lot of good reputable lads out there. All which should be able to provide references at the drop of a hat and not make people feel uncomfortable in their own homes.
In cases like this with the job being a kind of emergency, my advice would be to have your homework done in advance. Have the name and number of a plumber, electrician or roofer you can trust on hand in your home and that way on the chance of situations like this at least you know what your going to get.