Friday, March 1st, 2019
FRSA URGES HOMEOWNERS TO USE CAUTION WHEN HIRING FOR REROOFING OR ROOF REPAIRS
Homeowners need to make sure they hire only Florida licensed contractorsfor repairs or replacements of their homes and property. Florida Statues require that roofing contractors be licensed through the Florida Construction Industry Licensing Board (CILB), a division of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR).
The recovery effort from the damage caused by Hurricane Michael will be a long, difficult road for many home and business owners seeking to repair or rebuild, and it’s imperative that consumers remain aware of Florida law so that they are not taken advantage of. Unfortunately, unlicensed contractors, con artists and scammers seem to prey on unsuspecting homeowners in their time of need. The Florida Roofing and Sheet Metal Contractors Association (FRSA), is here to help consumers as they rebuild.
FRSA is a nonprofit trade association of licensed and insured roofing professionals and our goal is to pair consumers with industry professionals. Through FRSA’s website, www.floridaroof.com, consumers can find roofing professionals in their area, information on scams and alerts, and documents about hiring Florida licensed contractors. We also partner with local and state organizations to post notices to consumers on additional services available to them, such as Governor Scott’s “Operation Blue Roof” launched Wednesday to assist homeowners in getting free blue tarps installed on their roofs by the US Army.
In general, disaster recovery organizations caution homeowners to be suspicious of any contractor who demands cash or full payment upfront, has no physical address or identification, steers you to a specific lender or tries to act as the intermediary by asking to file insurance claims on your behalf, or want your personal financial information prior to starting the repair or lending process. Always make sure any contractor or roofer is Florida licensed and insured, has a physical address (and verify via website), ask for references, get cost estimates, schedules and other agreements in writing, and ensure they have the right permits. FEMA also offers homeowners in disaster recovery areas additional tips to help avoid scams. Here are some items all consumers need to consider prior to hiring or signing a contract:
▪ Make sure the contractor has a Florida contractor license and verify through DBPR or call FRSA
▪ Ask for a copy of their workers’ compensation and liability insurance certificates
▪ Take the time for due diligence – search the internet for information about the company – if there are complaints, steer clear of the company
▪ Use extreme caution when signing an Assignment of Benefits (AOB) claim form – this gives the contractor full rights over your property, removing you from any say so. As a note of caution, some insurance companies require only their contractors to be used for repairs. Unscrupulous contractors have placed liens on homes when the insurance company does not payout what the contractor charges for their services, leaving homeowners responsible for additional costs.
FRSA suggests the following:
▪ Florida has its own building codes which are required by law – out of state or unlicensed contractors are often not up to speed with Florida Building Codes.
▪ Get a clearly written proposal or contract that spells out exactly what will be done, the cost and the payment methods. Included in the contract/proposal should be a written explanation of everything that is covered in your warranty. Be sure that both labor and materials are covered. Most manufacturers guarantee their materials but this does not mean that the labor for replacement is included. Work performed by unlicensed contractors will NOT be covered by the manufacturer’s warranty. Be sure the labor guarantee is specified separately.
▪ Before signing any contract, call the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) at 850-487-1395 or visit their website, www.myfloridalicense.com to verify a Florida license. DBPR can verify that the company has an active status license and advise you of any complaints that have previously been filed.
▪ Beware of any requests for unusually large sums of up-front money before beginning work. Make sure the roofer has workers' compensation, which is required by state law, and general liability insurance. As a homeowner, you could be held liable if a worker is injured and there is no workers' compensation. Likewise, if the roofing company has no general liability insurance, any damage to your house becomes your problem. To verify workers' compensation coverage, call the Florida Department of Financial Services, Division of Workers' Compensation, Customer Service - 850-413-1601. Ask for current certificates of insurance for both types of coverage from the contractor.
▪ Require that the contractor obtain the building permit and that it be posted on the property before work begins. Never apply for a permit for the contractor.
▪ Get a "lien waiver" from the contractor upon making a lump sum or final payment for any project.
If, for any reason the contractor does not fulfill the terms of the contract, you should contact the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR). You may also file a complaint against licensed roofing contractors or report unlicensed contractors by calling the Florida Construction Industry Licensing Board at 850-487-1395 or DBPR at 866-532-1440.