After the Hailstorm
Colorado summers usher in an abundance of time spent outdoors gardening, hiking, biking, swimming – basking in the ever-present sunshine. Despite the terrestrial heat, the air is still below freezing up in the stratosphere, which means the occasionally hail storm. The hail also tends to attract roofing contractors, looking to seal the deal on getting your roof replaced.
Many of these companies will make sweeping promises, from getting a broad range of replacements covered by your insurer to not requiring you to pay any amount out of pocket. Be wary, however, as some of these promises are illegal. Here are five things you show know before signing up with a roofer:
First, be familiar with the company. This includes checking the Better Business Bureau, Google, and Yelp for reviews and complaints. Ask what kind of warranty is provided. Lifetime warranties for products and five-year warranties for workmanship are pretty standard. If you sign a contract, be sure that it is contingent on your insurance company approving a claim. Also, be informed of what kind of insurance and bond the company has. Most companies will carry this information with them. Ask for a copy of their contract, as well as any information about insurance, bonds, and warranties, and read the documents you receive and confirm that they align with what the salesperson has told you.
You may be asking, “How do I do all that when this guy is standing on my front porch?” which brings us to the second thing you need to know. The Federal Trade Commission passed a rule in 1972 to protect homeowners from door-to-door salespeople called the “Cooling Off Rule.” The Cooling Off Rule allows a consumer to cancel a contract for any reason – including no reason at all – within three business days of signing the contract. You might have felt that the salesperson was exceptionally nice, but went online afterwards and read horrible reviews. The Cooling Off Rule helps protect consumers from being the victim of their own kindness. Furthermore, if payment for the repairs will be made from insurance proceeds, the homeowner has seventy-two hours to rescind the contract and cancel the services after receiving written notice that the insurance company has denied the claim.
Third, promising to waive, absorb, or refund a homeowner’s deductible is illegal under Colorado law. While the prospect of not having to pay your deductible might sound alluring, customers should consider what it says about a company that would offer that. How else might that company cut corners? If code requires a part that is out of stock from suppliers, is that company going to wait a few weeks to order the part or just plow forward without complying with code?
Fourth, most companies promise to perform as soon as they can, but their contract does not state a start date or finish date. In Colorado, a residential roofing company’s contract must contain the following provisions: scope of services and included materials, approximate dates of service, approximate cost of services, surety/insurance information (including contact information for the company and its suretors/insurers), and several statements of law. The consequences of failing to put this information in a contract are not clear yet, but some argue that the homeowner should be permitted to cancel the contract as a result. Many roofing companies are exposing themselves to litigation and leaving customers in the dark by failing to put the required information into their contracts.
Finally, do not rush to deposit or cash that insurance check! Contact the company performing the repairs to see if you can assign insurance proceeds to them. This can help avoid any confusion down the road. It also ensures that you are not out of pocket for costs beyond your deductible unless you have agreed otherwise in the contract.
Homeowners need to be aware of their rights and obligations when dealing with roofing companies. While some companies will do the right thing and ensure that all of the homeowners’ rights are clearly stated on the contract, some companies are not familiar with Colorado law. By being fully informed, customers can get the service level they deserve and contractors will be held to a higher standard.
The Thomas Law Group works with both contractors and consumers to ensure full legal compliance and transparency. We work with businesses to ensure that their contracts comply with Colorado law. We also work with consumers to advise them of their rights and, if necessary, protect those rights. If you or someone you know is experiencing difficulty in a transaction related to restoration and repair services, please contact us.
DISCLAIMER: This information is intended to be for general purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. This information is not intended to be fully comprehensive and laws change frequently. The facts and circumstances of your case may significantly alter the application of the law and this information to your case. For legal advice on your case specifically, please contact a licensed attorney.