Consumer Tips & Cautions
1. Under-reporting of Wages: The most widely abused cost savings in roofing today is the under-reporting of wages to the insurance carrier. When roofers under-report wages, pay their employees cash, and/or pretend to be exempt from Worker’s Comp, they immediately cut as much as 25% off their labor price. If you ever wonder why some bids are lower than others, this is the most likely reason. However, when roofers do not have proper coverage, you could be paying the medical bills yourself! See article at http://www.insurance.ca.gov/0400-news/0100-press-releases/2012/release040-12.cfm
2. Under-reporting of sales: Since they know insurance premiums are based on volume, roofers will not report accurately, to save money. Trouble will then arise if damage occurs during your job. An audit by the insurance company would reveal the fraud, which will cause them to deny the claim and leave you responsible for paying the bills. See article at http://www.smashinglists.com/top-10-fraud-cases-for-2009/
3. File Workman’s Comp Exemption: The owner of the company is the only person in the company who can file an exemption. Worker’s Comp Exemptions are NOT allowed for workers. Thus, everyone besides the owner must be covered under Worker’s Comp. Unfortunately, roofers have the highest injury records in the workplace today. A lawsuit is the last thing you want, especially if an employee was injured on your job and the roofer did not have that proper coverage for that employee. See article at http://capistranoinsider.typepad.com/the_sheriffs_blogger/2010/02/roofing-contractor-convicted-of-insurance-fraud-and-failing-to-pay-taxes-after-worker-falls-from-roof.html
4. Non-payment of materials: If your contractor does not pay for the material, even though you’ve paid your contractor in full, the material supplier can put a lien on your property under California Civil Code 8400, 8402, 8404. http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=civ&group=08001-09000&file=8400-8404
You may end up paying for the roofing materials twice. Ask who the vendor will be supplying the material and ask for a Vendor Letter stating the roofing company is in good standing. Check to see the Vendor is real.
5. Roof not installed to code: Codes change because manufacturers change their specifications. Not all roofers actually know the most up-to-date codes. As a result, every day new roofs are installed that are already not to code. This could become a problem if your insurance denies a claim because of an improperly installed roof. Confirm that the roofer you chose is aware of any code updates and certified by the manufacturer. Some manufacturers offer long-term warranties which include workmanship. Refer to page 19, CertainTeed Shingle Applicator’s Manual. The CertainTeed Shingle Applicators Manual can be ordered for free at: http://www.certainteed.com/masterShingle.html
6. Use of non-system components: The easiest way for manufacturers to limit their warranty liability is to claim another product was used outside their specification. Most roofing systems today are tested as assemblies and if all the correct components are not used exactly as tested, the manufacturer will void their warranty. Take note when the roof is installed to ensure matched brands are used. Make sure the roofers are “certified installers” by the manufacturer. Get a long- term warranty which includes labor, material and workmanship backed by the manufacturer for 25 years. Refer to page 2, CertainTeed Shingle Applicator’s Manual. The CertainTeed Shingle Applicator’s Manual can be ordered for free at http://www.certainteed.com/masterShingle.html
7. Permit issues: Permits today can run hundreds of dollars, so roofers save money on permit fees if they do not pull a permit. However, you want an official record the roof was replaced for insurance and resale purposes. By not pulling a permit, not only does the roofer save on those fees, but he also knows there is no one checking the work and thus he may cut some corners. Make sure your contract states a permit will be issued, inspected and signed off by the inspector. http://www.networx.com/article/why-and-how-to-pull-permits
8. Ignoring OSHA safety regulations: No one wants an injured worker. Customers can be pulled into lawsuits because the roofer failed to follow safety regulations, leaving the customer’s insurance to pay the bills, therapy, or disability. Under California Labor Code 2750.5 a person who hires an unlicensed contractor for work requiring a license is the statutory employer of not only the unlicensed contractor but also any workers of the unlicensed contractor. http://www.edd.ca.gov/pdf_pub_ctr/de231g.pdf
9. Out of business: There is no recourse or warranty when a roofer or roofing company goes out of business. This leaves customers no recourse if there is a problem after installation. Unfortunately, there are roofers who do this every few years, only to open a new business in a similar name, a deceptive practice. The way to protect yourself is to verify how long the license holder has qualified the business. It is important to check this out to ensure the stability of a company. If a company goes out of business, your warranty with that business is null and void and you have no recourse. Ask how long the current license qualifier has been in existence and do a simple check. Check the contractor by license and by owner’s name yourself by going to the CA State Contractor’s Board, go to tab marked “Consumers”, click on the left side “Check a License or HIS Registration”, choose the button which says “Personnel Name”, type in the owner’s Last Name and First Name, hit button “Check for License”. There will you find the business owner’s name and click on it. There you will find how many licenses were issued under this name, how many companies this owner has had, how long those companies were in business and whether the license is Active, Inactive, Expired or Cancelled.
Some questions you can ask potential contractors that you may hire are: Will you give us a complete list of all the businesses you have been an owner in the roofing business or home contracting business? Have you or any other owners ever filed for bankruptcy for this or any other company that you owned? Have you ever had a roofing company or home improvement company under another name that has gone out of business? If so, have you honored the warranties associated with that business? https://www2.cslb.ca.gov/onlineservices/checklicenseII/checklicense.aspx
10. Switch license qualifier: It is not uncommon for a roofer who is less than honest to purposely change license qualifiers to erase their warranty obligations and any license complaints. Then, when customers call the licensing department or someplace like the BBB to check on a roofer’s complaint history, they are fooled into believing the company has a clean record, simply because the qualifier is new. https://www2.cslb.ca.gov/OnlineServices/CheckLicenseII/CheckLicense.aspx
Documentation reviewed and provided by Dawna J Ciluffo, Esq.
DC LAW, A Professional Corporation
2005 De La Cruz Blvd., Suite 215
Santa Clara, CA 95050