When it's time to hire a roofer in Colorado Springs, you want to make sure you ask them all the right questions. The last thing you'll want is to be caught up in a costly situation that leaves you with a low quality roof. By asking these questions, you'll learn right away whether or not you can trust that you hired the right roofer.
Question #1: Do you have general liability insurance AND workmen’s comp insurance?
By far, this is the most important question you should ask. If the contractor doesn’t have GL insurance, he can’t get a license in El Paso County. Additionally, if anything on your property gets damaged, and he doesn’t have insurance, you will probably have to pay to repair it yourself.
If the contractor doesn’t have workmen’s comp insurance and someone on the crew gets injured, you, as the homeowner, may be liable for any medical costs incurred, especially if a personal injury lawyer gets involved and you get sued for damages.
Don’t be fooled by any contractor who tells you he isn’t required to have workmen’s comp insurance. While it’s currently true that a company with no employees doesn’t need workman’s comp insurance in El Paso County, do you want to take the risk of being potentially liable for thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars of medical costs for an injured worker?
Lastly, get a current copy of the contractor’s insurance certificates. When asking for a copy of the insurance certificate, ask the contractor to have his insurance carrier Email, fax, or mail you a copy of the certificate. Don’t accept a printed copy that he hands you because it is too easy to falsify this document.
Question #2: Do I have to sign anything for you to get on my roof?
This relates to what I call the “Dirty Little Secrets of the Roofing Industry.” Many of the door-knockers will ask you if you would like to have a “free” roof inspection. If you suspect you have damage, you might tell the roofer to do the inspection. After all, it's “free” right? Then what he/she does is whips out a form and asks you to sign it. Many homeowners think, at this point, that they are signing a consent form, or a liability waiver. They never suspect that they are actually signing a contract with the roofer. This contract says that IF he/she finds damage on your roof, IF you file a claim, or IF the claim is accepted, you MUST use that roofing company to complete the work. Remember, this is all before your roof has even been inspected!
One lady I know who had this happen to her, later tried to back out of the contract because she realized what kind of a scam she had gotten into. Then the roofer began to threaten her with lawsuits and fines.
If you have to sign anything even before the roofer gets on the roof, tell him, “No thank you,” then grab your phone and text all your neighbors to be on the watch for that company and others like them.
Question #3: What is your Roofing Contractor license number?
Every county that requires a roofer to be licensed should issue a license with a number on it. The reason you should ask that is to make sure that the roofer who wants to be hired by you is, in fact, allowed to pull permits in your county. Recently, one of our local news stations caught up with a local “roofing contractor” and confronted him about his license. They had gotten a tip that he was working without a license, so they set him up. As he was climbing off a roof, they came out of the house and began to ask him questions. When they asked him about his license, he said he had one in his truck, but when he presented it to them, the camera zoomed in and the expiration date could be clearly seen. It had been expired for almost 2 years.
If a roofing contractor tells you that you need to pull the permit for your re-roof, or that no permit is needed, or if you see that a different contractor's name is on your permit, these are all “red-flags” that your contractor doesn't have a license in your county and he shouldn't be running a roofing contractor business here. Most of all, it indicates that you should never hire one of these scammers to do your roof. Buyer beware!
So ask for the contractor's license number and check with your local building department to see when it expires.
Question #4: Will You Help Me Pay My Deductible?
This is a question that seems like a win-situation for you if the contractor tells you he will help pay part or all of your deductible. However, in Colorado, since June of 2012, it has been illegal for a roofing contractor to pay, waive, discount, or rebate all or part of your insurance deductible. Doing so constitutes insurance fraud on the part of the insured. If a contractor is willing to break the law in order to get your business, you should ask yourself if you can really trust him.
While it can be very tempting to hire a contractor who offers to give you a “free” roof, you should understand that he will make up that lost money somewhere else, either by cutting corners in the materials used, or by hiring laborers that don't know what they're doing, or by not honoring or supporting his warranty.
The media has been doing a good job of informing homeowners of this law and have even asked homeowners to report roofers who are offering to pay the deductible for you. You can get more information about insurance claims and deductible laws at http://coloradoroofing.org/consumer/hailstorms-and-your-roof.
Question #5: Do You Require Any Money Up-Front?
There is a story we know of where a general contractor we know was with a customer, when a roofer knocked on the door. Shortly after, the police came and arrested the roofer. His scam was asking people for their initial insurance check and then not doing any work. This happens every year in Colorado Springs and it is why it is now illegal for a roofing contractor to require you to give him money up-front before any materials have been delivered to the job-site.
Oftentimes, even if the roofing company is not planning to disappear with your money, they may be asking you for your deposit money ahead of the material delivery in order to fund costs for other jobs because they have over-spent on other things (think – fancy trucks, expensive equipment, etc.) This could be a real problem for you if they run out of money when it comes time to buy your materials.
We recently met with a couple who told us that one of the huge roofing companies recently told them they wouldn't even put their job on the schedule until they had deposit money, AND they wanted to draft it right out of the homeowner's bank account!
So the simple rule is this: Don't ever, ever hand over your endorsed insurance check or a personal check or let someone draft money out of your account until you have materials on your property. Remember – if you hand over your insurance money or personal funds, and the roofer walks away with your money, it's gone. You will probably never get it back. Not only is it illegal for the roofing contractor to collect these funds, it's common sense to protect yourself in this way.
Question #6: What is the duration of your labor warranty and what does it cover?
A reputable roofing contractor will offer a labor warranty of between 3 and 5 years. Some offer even longer time frames than that. The labor warranty should cover any and all labor-related problems or mistakes for the entire period of the warranty. This would include improperly attached shingles, incorrectly installed flashings, failed county inspections, etc. Remember, storms or severe weather are outside the scope of most labor warranties, so you need to ask specific questions and make sure that all details of the labor warranty are in writing. If they are not already part of the terms and conditions section of the contract, ask to have them included on the contract somewhere.
Companies that are here from out of town chasing storms most likely won't offer a very long warranty. That should be a red-flag for you. If you're considering using an out-of-town roofing contractor make sure you completely understand the labor warranty and how you need to contact the company to get resolution if there are any warranty problems. By using a non-local roofer, even a good one, you are running a high risk of not being able to get help if you have a problem like detached shingles or post-job leaks. The best situation is to find a roofing contractor who has established roots in Colorado Springs.
Question #7: Are You A Sub-contractor Or An Employee Of The Roofing Company You Work For?
First, here's why this question is important.
Companies that don't have any employees are not currently required by Pikes Peak Regional Building Department to have Workmen's Comp insurance. As we discussed in a previous article, hiring contractors who aren't covered by Workmen's Comp insurance could have devastating consequences for you as a homeowner.
If the contractor doesn't have workmen's comp insurance and someone on the crew gets injured, you, as the homeowner, may be liable for any medical costs incurred, especially if a personal injury lawyer gets involved.
So if the salesman, inspector, or project manager of the roofing company is not an employee, he may be hired as a “subcontractor” in order for the roofing company to avoid having to pay for Workmen's Comp insurance for him. It's a loop-hole that many roofers use to save themselves this cost.
Secondly, there are many regulations which dictate and define who is a subcontractor and who is an employee. Most roofing salesmen/inspectors/project managers do not, qualify as sub-contractors, which means that the roofing company is skirting around state and federal laws. Do you want to hire a roofing contractor who is putting you at risk and engaging in illegal activity in order to earn your business?