April 17, 2011
By Jerry Kopel
"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
subject 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 Roof Assn. 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.
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
Material complaints allege incomplete work, poor work
quality, additional property damage, payment disputes, and overcharging
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.
Roofing Assn. would follow the approach used
in many states of exempting roofing work of $1,000 or less from state
Should Colorado require roofing contractors to have
taken and passed educational classes and passing 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
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
Chief sponsor of the roofing contractor regulation
measure, SB 207, is Sen. Lois Tochtrop (D). 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 with
72 hours after being turned down by the residential roofing insurer.
(Jerry Kopel served 22 years in the Colorado House)