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  1. #1
    Andy Gaspar's Avatar
    Andy Gaspar Guest

    Default roof contractor fraud? never installed items and now house is damaged.

    Hello. First post newbie here so I apologize if this was posted in the wrong area.

    In the fall of 2000 I hired a roofer to replace my cedar shake roof that was damaged from a hail storm. A few dents in cedar shakes didn't bother me, but the insurance company said the roof would need to be replaced & the estimates (since it was a cedar shake roof) was in the neighborhood of $30,000

    One of the estimates came from a contractor in Burnsville, MN. Their estimate that was provided to me and my insurance company stated the following would be performed/replaced:
    • 3/4" med cedar shake
    • Continuous ridge vent
    • ice shield (they charged me for 678 LINEAR feet)
    • chimney flashing
    • step flashing
    • additional vents
    • galv. plumbing vents
    • r&r gutters
    • city permit
    • + odds and ends such as dumpster, steepness surcharge, toe boards, etc
    The contractor stated he needed the insurance check "up-front" because of the excessive costs of the materials. Being an idiot who didn't know any better I believed him when he said it was normal to do this... so I gave him the check from the insurance company. Needless to say, I know better now.

    After 4 trucks of people who didn't speak english left I was told the job was completed. I noticed there was no ridge vent. Most of this house has vaulted ceilings and so a ridge vent is crucial for proper ventilation. I also had a large water stain in my garage ceiling several weeks after the job was done. The contractor came out and said they found no leaks.

    For the next several years I attempted to get the roofer to install that ridge vent. The upstairs of the house was like an oven every summer. It should be noted that the original roof had a ridge vent and the blueprints also show one.

    I also experienced water coming out of my soffit vents. Further inspection showed that when the gutters were installed they did not install a drip edge. Are there any codes regarding this? The gaps between the shakes are allowing water to run behind the fascia.

    I checked with the city because these things should of been caught during the inspection. It turns out that the contractor never called the city at any time for any inspection. According to the permit the job was never started.

    It was then discovered that even though the contractor overcharged me for ice shield (678 linear feet instead of 678 square feet - that's enough to install ice shield up 20 feet on each side of my roof) they only installed one course of ice shield, or 90 linear feet total. My overhang is 14" and my walls are 2x6 but the pitch is 14/12 on one side and 19/12 on the other.

    The more I looked, the worse it got. It turned out they did install some of the small 12/12" vents, but they did so in the wrong areas. They also reused one of the old vents. They just pried up the old chimney flashing and then re-stapled it down & they also just reused the old step flashing too.

    My ceilings are the same pitch as the roof. It's just 2x10s that are used as trusses. The ceiling inside is all cedar board covered, so I would never notice any water damage on the ceiling sheetrock as it's covered by wood. For years I did notice small brown stains here and there on the carpet but I thought it was from things like someone spilling coffee, or insects, or the cat... I never thought it was caused by water seeping through the ceiling boards and staining the carpet. Not until I was actually home this spring and saw it dripping. And it was dripping a lot.

    This past winter it went from very cold to very warm in just a couple of days. And I found water running down my walls and coming through the ceiling boards in nearly every room of my house. There was no ice dams outside and there was just a few light spots of snow here and there on the roof. It turns out that ice has been building up in my attic spaces and the sudden heat wave caused it to melt all at once. I even have water stains under an outlet that's 16' from the ceiling.

    The contractor says the roof is out of warranty, even though the job was never technically finished and never inspected. They are a big company and are still in business. We had a meeting at my house and they saw all of the damage (they were here with their lawyer) and they are aware of all of the items they never installed. I told them they were liable for a new roof and over $25,000 worth of known damages to the interior.

    They are refusing to do anything. I do have a lawyer. So the next step is a lawsuit and I need a structural engineer who can inspect the roof to see if there is additional damage caused by the lack of ventilation, improper gutter installation, not enough ice shield, and reuse of old materials even though new materials were paid for.

    Does anyone have any suggestions? I'm located in Eagan MN. I filed a complaint with the BBB and they told them they were taking care of the issue, of which they never did. Now the BBB says that since the job is so old, a new complaint can't be filed.

    I have pictures at ***deleted*** please email me for link.

    In addition, the roofer was hired to install skylights. I had one and they were supposed to install 2 more... one on each side as well as replace the center one. I had prepared the interior as they were hired to just do the outside part & I would finish the interior, so the holes were cut in the ceiling and all ready to go. When I got home I discovered the workers installed the 2 outside skylights with the 2x10 trusses running through the middle of the windows! How's that for not knowing what they were doing! I mean right down the middle! Apparently when "evenly spaced" was translated into spanish it meant to measure to the end of the roof and evenly space it regardless of the truss location. I am unsure how deep they cut into the truss when they sawed the openings. They did move the skylights but the installation was sloppy and the skylight uneven.

    The leaks discovered were not around the skylights. I have water stains in my kitchen, bedroom, living room, dining room and loft.

    I have contacted the MN Department of Labor and the Attorney General. The DOL is looking into the matter.

    Any other suggestions would be greatly appreciated and if anyone knows of a good structural engineer who is willing to handle steep roofs please let me know.

    Cost is an issue. I'm just a blue-collar joe who is working 2 jobs just to pay the bills!

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    Last edited by Andy Gaspar; 11-02-2007 at 12:22 AM. Reason: fix link
    Elite MGA Home Inspector E&O Insurance

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
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    25,315

    Default Re: roof contractor fraud? never installed items and now house is damaged.

    After 7 years, not only are you out of warranty, but you could well be beyond the statute of limitations for your state.

    Check with your lawyer to see what the statute of limitations is, if you are beyond them, I doubt the attorney will be able to do anything other than cost you more money ... you might (might) be able to get something by taking the avenues you already are through the state, letting them carry the cost burden as much as possible.

    You could also check with your state licensing and see what they can do to the contractor for failure to get inspections (it appears he did pull a permit, which, at this point, you might have been better off had they not pulled the permit. Check to see *who* pulled the permit, *in what name*, and were *both* parties "qualified and licensed" to do so. You may find that the contractor was not licensed in your area (a plus for your case) and/or that the person pulling the permit (qualifying the company) was not properly licensed (another plus for your case).

    Too many things to think about and check on, but I would start with reading up on your states contractors licensing law and statute of limitations.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  3. #3
    Andy Gaspar's Avatar
    Andy Gaspar Guest

    Default Re: roof contractor fraud? never installed items and now house is damaged.

    Thanks. That issue about the statute was brought up at first but was quickly argued out because I had been actively pursuing the company to repair the roof from 2000-2007. They used a term called "Estoppel", and stated that since the company was made aware of the issue while the item was under warranty it is then still an active issue.

    I'm looking at a minimum of around $60,000 worth of damage. My insurance company says it's not covered as it was caused by contractor error.

    The contractor was (is) licensed to operate in my county. The permit was pulled properly... but at no time was the city notified about the work ever starting, so no inspections were done.


  4. #4
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Dallas, Texas
    Posts
    4,112

    Default Re: roof contractor fraud? never installed items and now house is damaged.

    I hate to say the "L" word, but I think you need to get a lawyer involved.
    If the roofing company has insurance or assets, you might find one that will represent you on contingency.
    Big thing is to read your contract about the job specifications, etc. not just the estimate.
    A good third party inspection would have been well worth the price, but you know that now.

    Jim Luttrall
    www.MrInspector.net
    Dallas, Texas

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Location
    Rockwall Texas
    Posts
    4,517

    Default Re: roof contractor fraud? never installed items and now house is damaged.

    Andy,

    What was the total charged by the roofer?

    You stated the insurance company stated 30K needed for repairs.

    What was the deductible for the insurance?

    How many roofers did you contact before going with the company you chose?

    Just curious,
    Rick


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Ormond Beach, Florida
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    Default Re: roof contractor fraud? never installed items and now house is damaged.

    Quote Originally Posted by Andy Gaspar View Post
    Thanks. That issue about the statute was brought up at first but was quickly argued out because I had been actively pursuing the company to repair the roof from 2000-2007. They used a term called "Estoppel", and stated that since the company was made aware of the issue while the item was under warranty it is then still an active issue.
    That is a term they use which, in this case, means that the statute of limitations time was tolled ('stopped') from the date you first started taking action against them.

    I thought you had just started taking action against them within the past year.

    The contractor was (is) licensed to operate in my county.
    Then I would contact your county code enforcement board, typically they also handle unlicensed contractors and contractor performing work which does not meet required standards ...

    The permit was pulled properly... but at no time was the city notified about the work ever starting, so no inspections were done.
    ... Not calling for inspections is one such thing as it is required, see above.

    It sounds to me you are at the point at which all you can do is keep on the state/county/city to back up their laws (permitting and inspections) and address recourse through them and through your attorney (which costs money, the roofer knows that, they are playing the waiting game, trying to out-wait you until you drop the case because of lack of funds).

    Sometimes it is also advisable to contact a local FOX (they are usually the most cut-throat) or other TV station which has a go-getter attitude and like to make good news stories for themselves, making the big guy look bad.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Spring Hill (Nashville), TN
    Posts
    5,829

    Default Re: roof contractor fraud? never installed items and now house is damaged.

    If you want to recover the damages for your problems you need to hire an attorney (I know you say that you have one). Your hope is that the contractor has insurance coverage or enough assets to cover the damages and expenses that you have incurred.

    Most likely your attorney will want an expert witness as well to document everything and to testify if needed.

    The States AG, will not help you to recover the damages. They will go after the guy for breaking the law, if he has done that.

    The BBB can not do anything to the contractor if he does not belong to the BBB. The BBB does not open files on non members.

    You say that you have an attorney, well then he/she needs to be doing all of this for you. It sounds like you might need to hire a new attorney and fire the old one. You are well past the lawsuit stage, it should have been filed a few years back. Another word of advice is that you do not need to be posting all of this on a public board that can be searched by anyone looking for information on your problem....

    Last edited by Scott Patterson; 10-25-2007 at 07:47 PM.
    Scott Patterson, ACI
    Spring Hill, TN
    www.traceinspections.com

  8. #8
    Andy Gaspar's Avatar
    Andy Gaspar Guest

    Default Re: roof contractor fraud? never installed items and now house is damaged.

    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Hurst View Post
    Andy,

    What was the total charged by the roofer?

    You stated the insurance company stated 30K needed for repairs.

    What was the deductible for the insurance?

    How many roofers did you contact before going with the company you chose?

    Just curious,
    Rick
    The original charge by the roofer was just shy of $30k, which was in the ballpark of all the other bids I received for the original job. I had 3 or 4 people come out and give me a bid. The house isn't very big (around 2000 sqf) but the roof is very steep and it was covered with a thick cedar shake. My deductible is $500

    I chose this roofer because I specifically asked them IF they used local people (as I like to support local business) and IF they used nails or staples to attach the shakes. The 2nd question was because nearly all the homes that used staples had missing shingles and none of the homes around here that were nailed had wind damage. The damage to my roof was because of hail... all of the shakes were still in place even after the 80-90mph straight-winds.

    The first day or two they were using nailers, but sometime during the week they switched to staplers. His reason being that nails were causing the shakes to split.

    Their excuse for not installing a ridge vent was that he's "done 45,000 roofs and has never heard of a ridge vent on a cedar roof before!" Even though the house originally had one on it.

    --------------------

    The lawyer and suing issues were (are) the final step. I wanted to give the company every opportunity to complete the contract as per the payment and even got the state and local governments involved. This has been an ongoing effort for years and the company has never made a single attempt to do the work they were paid to do or comply to building codes.

    On top of all that - Last week I received a cold sales call from their company, stating there was hail damage in my area and if I would like to have them come out to see if I need a new roof and siding! Classic - I have not done business with them since 2000 and I'm on the Federal DoNotCall list.

    I have a structural engineer and an architectural engineer coming out this week to assess the extent of the damages.

    Thanks for the advice on the code enforcement board... I'll look that up today. I've been in contact with a local TV station that does investigative reports but they only pick about a complaint a month. I'll have to contact FOX then... especially with all the recent storm damage they may want to do an expose' on insurance fraud.


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