Contractor ethics questioned

I would like some opinions about my contract with a “multi-state” roofing contractor… I am a retiree living in florida.

In January 2005 I paid a contractor for my roof to be re-shingled (dimensional) in Florida. My “contract” called for a ten year labor warranty in addition to the typical other details one would expect to see. My questions about warranty and longevity of service (in FL) were answered in very reassuring emails between the company president and I.

Putting aside the “other” details such as;

  1. Did NOT install 24" metal reinforced ice and water barier in valleys.
  2. Did NOT replace stacks and vents or electrical service boot with new ones.
  3. Did NOT replace moisture damaged plywood with same (used pieces of oriented stran board).
  4. Did NOT complete the work in 4-6 weeks.

In Florida, after hurricanes Frances and Jeanne it was hard to get a contractor for the job…all locals were overbooked and overwhelmed.

I cautiously contracted with this out of state company that was well represented at the time. I had to accept the fact that what should have been an $8000.00 job was now $11300.00(supply and demand) and $800.00 for two tarps that were promised “free of charge”.
I was very frustrated over the fact that there was NOT an english speaking worker present during my job that I could communicate with. How could I argue points of the contract with Mexican Nationals that were done with the job in just two days?

After the first heavy rainfalls my new roof leaked in three places (chimney and skylights). No problem, warranty right? Yes, to my satisfaction the company DID send out a repairman for the leaks (and he did speak some broken english). A couple of tubes of black stuff later It was no longer leaking. The company did not offer to pay for my drywall repair- so that was left to me. Six months later another leak in the kitchen below the the skylight was serviced for repair(another tube of black stuff). By now I am thinking that there is only so much you can do with this black stuff (I have heard it called “bull”). After all, the florida sun is a very intense influence on any material.

Well now 33 months have passed since my re-shingle job and the area below the kitchen skylight is leaking again. A phone call to the company revealed that they apparently have left the State of Florida. My repeated telephone calls to out of state corporate offices have fallen on “deaf ears”. I am being ignored, it is obvious to me they no longer intend to honor their labor warranty.

This company is LARGE compared to most, doing business in at least FOUR states and possibly more. Inquiries revealed 2003 revenues to be at $1.3 million escalating to $5.3 million in 2006,(307%) mostly attributed to the florida post hurricane market.

I deliberately did NOT mention the company name here at this time. I would like to get some opinions from the forum about the ethics involved in my situation. I realize I could hire a local roof repair tech to fix my leak but I am being stubborn for now because I feel like I have been made the fool. I also realize this is not in the realm of “scams”, but depending on the future behavior of this company some fraud issues may be at issue. It isn’t that difficult or expensive to leave a “shell” operation (with a phone drop) behind for two years after the storm has been chased and the target market conquered. I would not want to see other desperate storm inflicted folks receive this kind of service.

I would really appreciate your constructive input and responses.

Thanks,
Burnett

Burnett,

Sorry to hear you had a bad experience. It’s jobs like yours that make it difficult on the rest of us who are trying to do the right thing.

That said, I will assume you’re in the Port Saint Lucie / Fort Pierce area? Back in '05 I did around 6 months of work down there with a co. based here in the Austin, Texas area. The money was better than what I was getting (consistency-wise) & I have roots in Florida what with having lived there for 25 years in Fort Lauderdale & Winter Park.

IMO, one of the primary reasons you are having problems is because you had a salesperson (only) vs. someone who would project super the whole thing from the signature on the contract all the way through. @ Least that’s how I worked MY jobs, anyhow. Many a night I was out there with floodlights as we finished up a few details & then came back by in the AM to doublecheck on the clean up.

IMO, someone who is strictly a “sales person” & only you only see for the sales process & to collect a check is short changing the customer unless it’s a co. with a long local reputation & they have a dedicated project superintendent or site supervisor. This is the kind of information that should be spelled out or discussed in advance.

If you have a contract, there is always the possibility your local BBB might be able to coordinate something with the one in the area where this co. is based out of.

Additionally, if this co. is based out of the Central Texas area, feel free to send me a private message or Email; I may know someone who knows someone.

As for how this repair can be done remotely, a local co. or service person could be contracted to perform repairs @ the selling co’s expense.

As for applying cold cement out of a tube, yeah - that stuff will only get you so far. The heat puddles any exposed parts & it contracts (cracks) in colder weather. It’s really best served when applied between layers of other components, not as a topical.

The decking you mention is perfectly acceptable in my opinion - OSB is fine because it will more than adequately hold the nails that hold the shingles. If you were to look @ any million dollar house being built in your area, I’ll give it a 95% or better chance it’s got OSB for decking (not on the walls, though, given the CBS requirements).

Valley - without photos, I have no way of knowing exactly what was done but I’ll take your word for it. No valley metal is a bad thing.

Overall, it does sound like you’ve got issues & I really don’t have any other ideas for you on how to adress them other than what I’ve suggested here.

Best of luck.

You hired a storm chasing company. They put the trade to shame. Caulk should not be used to stop a leak unless it is for a temp basis and i mean a couple of weeks. I only use caulk on 1 point the top of counter flashing and it is a tri poly grade 50 year stuff they say, solar seal. Thats not temp tho. If they did it inccorectly then call the city inspector. Osb will be fine. Hire a local roofing company to do the repairs correctly. Not another dab of caulk will not fix the problem.

As far as the sales person thing thats what i do for a living, but i work the job from start to finish. I even show up when its getting doen if the time allows. Yes im a sales person. I resent what was said but whatever. I know i do my job well and my customers are happy still to this day. 1 problem in 14-15 years is not a bad thing. Not all salespeople are bad.

[quote=“gtp1003”]As far as the sales person thing thats what i do for a living…
…I resent what was said but whatever.[/quote]

Don’t misinterpret what I said:

unless it’s a co. with a long local reputation & they have a dedicated project superintendent or site supervisor.

the skylight needs to be reflashed. hire a reputable local company, and maybe (thats a big maybe) the origanal company will reimburse you.

I appreciate the responses received. I have filed complaints with the BBB and the Attorney Generals Office where this company is located.

If my contractor will honor his 10 year labor warranty as promised I can put this anxiety to rest. If not, so be it…I have plenty of time on my hands to warn other potential storm victim consumers nationwide.

I wouldn’t worry about the OSB. You’ll find that OSB is used for roof decking in new construction. Also, your valley may be okay. For example, GAF’s installation instructions call for Weatherwatch leak barrier in the valleys, but do not include metal. In fact, Florida Building Code allows a Weatherwatch type membrane in the valley (at least that was the case when I last lived there 18 months ago). If you have a ice and water shield membrane in the valley, you should be fine. I never use metal in valleys unless I’m installing a high end shingle that has to have an open valley.
As for the “bull,” you have a problem. Caulks, cements, etc are temporary fixes used by homeowners and handymen. A good roofer will not use anything in a tube as a stand-alone solution to a potential leak. Your skylight was almost certainly improperly flashed.
Good luck. I’d suggest that you have a reputable roofer come out to the house and re-flash the skylight before you get any further damage. You’ll probably be better off eating the repair charge and chalking it up as a learning experience. I’m afraid we’ve all been there as homeowners at sometime or another.