Texas should re­quire roofers to be li­censed

Austin American-Statesman - - VIEWPOINTS - Hai­good is board pres­i­dent of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Fire and Ca­su­alty Com­pa­nies in Texas.

Be­fore

bar­bers can charge $20 for a hair­cut, they must have taken 1,500 hours of course­work dur­ing a min­i­mum of nine months’ train­ing. They will be re­quired to take a fi­nal ex­am­i­na­tion and then pay $60 to ob­tain a li­cense. To place a $10,000 roof on some­one’s home re­quires no ex­pe­ri­ence, no train­ing and no li­cense. We hope that is about to change.

Roof­ing con­trac­tors have no re­quire­ments for any type of work-re­lated train­ing, nor are they re­quired to carry any li­a­bil­ity in­surance or accountability for their work. They can rep­re­sent them­selves as ex­pert roofers and in­surance spe­cial­ists. The state has no record of th­ese work­ers in the event that they cause dam­age or pro­vide poor work­man­ship, or take sev­eral thou­sand of dol­lars from homeowners with­out do­ing any work at all.

Leg­is­la­tion call­ing for li­cens­ing roof­ing con­trac­tors will be in­tro­duced dur­ing the next Texas leg­isla­tive ses­sion, and we urge homeowners to con­tact their lo­cal rep­re­sen­ta­tives and sen­a­tors to sup­port this mea­sure.

No one is rec­om­mend­ing 1,500 hours of train­ing, but hav­ing roof­ing con­trac­tors se­cure a li­a­bil­ity in­surance pol­icy would pro­tect homeowners from dam­age. A nom­i­nal fee to ob­tain a li­cense would also en­able the state to pay for hav­ing in place a record of each roof­ing con­trac­tor and how they can be reached.

In­stead of cost­ing more money to in­stall or re­pair a roof, the leg­is­la­tion would have the op­po­site ef­fect. More re­spon­si­ble roof­ing con­trac­tors would mean less fraud and bet­ter work­man­ship, re­quir­ing fewer re­pairs such as fix­ing dam­age to the in­side of a home from rain due to an im­prop­erly in­stalled roof.

The roof­ing busi­ness is a mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar in­dus­try in Texas. Mul­ti­ple hail­storms in the Dal­las/Fort Worth area alone this past spring caused nearly $2 bil­lion in dam­age to homes, busi­nesses and ve­hi­cles. With thou­sands of roofs to re­place, work­ers want­ing to take ad­van­tage of this busi­ness op­por­tu­nity poured into Texas from all over the coun­try. For some of th­ese work­ers, the last thing on their mind was build­ing a great roof for a fair price for the good of the home­owner.

Af­ter the spring hail­storms, the Texas De­part­ment of In­surance said it re­ceived more than 100 re­ports of roofers goug­ing both homeowners and in­surance com­pa­nies by in­flat­ing dam­age es­ti­mates, per­form­ing poor work, us­ing sub­stan­dard ma­te­ri­als and ac­tu­ally caus­ing dam­age to roofs to get work. The Na­tional In­surance Crime Bureau said many of the vic­tims are se­nior ci­ti­zens or peo­ple with lan­guage bar­ri­ers.

The av­er­age price for a new roof can cost $10,000 or more. For that kind of money, Texas homeowners should ex­pect some re­spon­si­bil­ity. Re­quir­ing con­trac­tors to ob­tain a li­cense would al­low the state to fol­low the work of roof­ing con­trac­tors and re­voke their li­cense if they are pro­vid­ing shoddy work, get­ting paid for no work at all or com­mit­ting in­surance fraud.

Roof­ing con­trac­tors who claim to be in­surance spe­cial­ists and ad­vise pol­i­cy­hold­ers on mat­ters re­gard­ing an in­surance con­tract or claim are vi­o­lat­ing state in­surance law. It has got­ten so bad that Texas De­part­ment of In­surance Com­mis­sioner Eleanor Kitz­man is­sued a bul­letin this sum­mer warn­ing homeowners to watch out for roofers who have been ad­ver­tis­ing or mak­ing prom­ises to “work” in­surance claims. Th­ese prom­ises re­quire a pub­lic ad­juster’s li­cense.

If our homes are dam­aged in a storm, we want the re­pairs done right. No one wants to be­come a vic­tim of a fraud­u­lent roof­ing con­trac­tor, and the re­quire­ment of a sim­ple li­cense will go a long way to­ward rais­ing the stan­dards for the Texas roof­ing in­dus­try.

Eric gay / as­so­ci­ated PRESS 2010

A Ray­mondville home­owner cov­ers his roof with a tarp af­ter Trop­i­cal Storm Her­mine in Septem­ber 2010.

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