Rogue roofers


by ANDY PIERROTTI / KVUE News and photojournalist ERIN COKER

Bio | Email | Follow: @AndyP_KVUE

Posted on March 7, 2013 at 11:28 PM

Updated Friday, Mar 8 at 8:31 AM

Walk inside Mary Wallace's Universal City home, and you’d think the sky was falling in her dining room -- sort of.

"When I say leaking, it was plaster dropping," Mrs. Mary Wallace explained, showing parts of her ceiling now on the floor.

Wallace blames shoddy roofing work for her water damage. She paid about $4,000 for a new roof two years ago, but she says the roofer she hired refuses to return and fix it.

"He said, 'I'm gonna bring my carpenter out and my roofer.' He didn't do that. He didn't do that because he knew it was gonna cost him money," contended Wallace.

Wallace’s complaint about her roofer is one of thousands made by Texans over the past few years. According to Better Business Bureau reports reviewed by the Defenders, complaints rose from 1,221 in 2011 to 1,362 in 2012.

"With the downturn we've all seen in the economy, we've also seen an increase in the number of reports we receive in the fraud unit," said Jeff Kirk, chief fraud investigator for the Texas Department of Insurance.

The most common complaints he hears include roofers who get paid, but never finish the job. He also says some roofers will actually create more damage once they get on top of a home.

"I’ve seen them use quarters and just bend down and just twist the quarters, the shingle, to make it appear that a piece of hail hit the roof," said Kirk.

What does it take to become a roofer in Texas?

"Currently, there are no requirements," explained Kirk.

To put that in perspective, the state requires barbers to get at least 750 hours of training to get a license. Someone doing your nails needs 500 hours of training to hold a license. Your plumber and electrician also require licenses to work in Texas.

"When it comes down to a person putting a roof over your house, anyone can do it," argued Mark Hanna with the Insurance Council of Texas.

The council, and a Texas roofing contractor association, want lawmakers to pass legislation this session that would require roofers to get a license before doing work.

"We're talking about five, 10, a $20,000 piece of a property on your home. It all comes down to accountability and the reputable roofers are all about this," contended Hanna.

In the meantime, the state recommends avoiding unsolicited phone calls, mailers, and to make sure your roofing contractor is insured.

"Don't be afraid to ask for a copy of that insurance policy. Call the insurance company, make sure it's valid," explained Kirk.

Kirk also suggests asking your adjuster to inspect the damage before hiring a roofer and to check with organizations like the BBB for complaints.

The state’s Senate Business and Commerce Committee could take up a bill addressing roofing licensing on Tuesday March 12.

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