Jerry Kopel

KOPEL: STATE INTERVENTION COULD BE HELPFUL

Roofing industry concedes need for regulation

"We need to be regulated,” concedes the Colorado Roofing Association in their application to the Dept. of Regulatory Agencies (DORA) for licensing of roofing contractors.

Of course one reason to seek regulation is to cut down the number of possible fly-by unqualified operators presently making bids for roofing construction and ending up in a Better Business Bureau (BBB) file of complaints. Regulation may be the only way for honest roofing contractors to regain credibility with homeowners and business owners in Colorado. 

On page 14 of DORA’s report you will read the following: 

“While scams and outright fraud dominate the evidence of harm to the citizens of Colorado by roofers, enough evidence of harm resulting from incompetence exists to support state intervention. Specifically, instances of carbon monoxide problems are almost certainly due to poor workmanship if not incompetence.”...and further on, “evidence of physical harm resulting from faulty work is also present in Colorado.”  

On page 11 DORA reports 736 complaints against roofing contractors between March 8, 2007 through March 8, 2010, claimed by the Denver-Boulder BBB office. From 39 locations there were six cities with the largest total: Aurora, Arvada, Denver, Englewood, Lakewood, and Littleton with 435 complaints. The figure “736” complaints were only the ones reported to that BBB office. There were likely many not reported. 

On page 12 of the report the Better Business Bureau of Southern Colorado reported that contractors were the subjects of more consumer inquiries than any other business. This BBB office received 271 complaints against roofing contractors from April 2007 through April 2010. 

Thirty states and Washington D.C. provide some regulation of roofing contractors according to the Colorado Roofing Association. But the Colorado area and bordering states are among the weakest for regulation. Seven states have some large or small boundary contact: Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, and Arizona. 

Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Colorado have no state regulation. New Mexico has a little regulation. Arizona and Utah have workable regulations. In any draft for Colorado those two state laws should be reviewed. Any Colorado county or city regulation will need to be amended or repealed. 

Material complaints allege incomplete work, poor work quality, additional property damage, payment disputes, and overcharging insurance companies. 

Incompetents blossom often as follow-ups called “storm chasers” or “travelers.” DORA reports a Lakewood Police Dept. representative said the “scam artists leave victims with additional repairs and clean-up costs that far exceed the cost of the needed repairs.” The Attorney General’s office listed roofing and gutter complaints as the third largest number of complaints from January 2009 through February 2010.
 
The Colorado Roofing Association would follow the approach used in many states of exempting roofing work of $1,000 or less from state regulation. 

Should Colorado require roofing contractors to have taken and passed educational classes and passed a competency exam before practice? At least fifteen states require passing such a competency test. 

Surety bonding and liability insurance is recommended by DORA. But how much?

Amounts should be based on reviewing actual losses on known damage cases, allowing modest profit to the insurance companies selling roof damage protection.   

Presently advertisements state, “Our company is bonded, insured, licensed and dependable, with highly trained team members to help customers every step of the way.” The consumer should demand verification of the advertisement, as there is not yet any state regulation. 

Chief sponsor of the roofing contractor regulation measure, SB 207, is Sen. Lois Tochtrop, D-Thornton. The bill does exempt contracts of $1,000 or less. To be valid, contractors have to be registered as working on residences or commercial property, or a combination of the two. 

Registration requires passage of a national test relating to the subject matter. The test is chosen by DORA. The contractor must have general liability coverage of $500,000 as a residential roofer and one million dollars if both residential and commercial roofing. Contractors must post a surety bond of $25,000 for residential roofing and $100,000 for commercial roofing. 

All clients may cancel contracts within 72 hours after signing. And residential property owners may also cancel within 72 hours after being turned down by the residential roofing insurer. 
 
Jerry Kopel served 22 years in the Colorado House.