Spring and hailstorm damage go hand in hand, making it high season for contractor complaints, according to a consumer advisory released by the 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office.
Given the numerous complaints law enforcement receives this time of year, the advisory urges homeowners to consider steps to take for repairing a roof or property in the event of hail or storm damage.
According to the release, the greatest number of complaints are filed against door-to-door contractors, especially those who come knocking right after a hailstorm.
The most common type of complaint is contractor nonperformance — the homeowner gives money upfront to a contractor, who then disappears — closely followed by poor quality of work grievances, the release says.
If the loss to the consumer exceeds the $7,500 amount for small claims court, the consumer might have to hire an attorney to file a lawsuit, the release says. And while consumers might win their judgment, it’s not always likely that they can collect.
While door-to-door contractors are not necessarily scam artists, doing business with one out of convenience is risky, the release says. The DA’s office advisory urges homeowners to do their due diligence:
• Research all prospective contractors. Ask your insurance company for recommendations. Review the business on the Better Business Bureau website (www.bbb.org). Things to look at include the length of time the company has been in business and the number of complaints the business has received. How the business handles complaints also is revealing.
• Check with the building department in your city or county to see if the contractor is licensed.
• Get at least three bids. Many companies will not request any payment before work is completed. A roofing contractor is prohibited by law from waiving your obligation to pay your insurance deductible.
• Understand the contract before signing. The contract should have a start and an end date, and a clause that indicates how disputes will be handled. Understand your obligation if the insurance company does not pay for something. Once the work commenses, get all change orders in writing.
• Get a signed lien waiver from the contractor when you make your payment to ensure that all subcontractors and suppliers have been paid to avoid a lien being slapped on your home. Under the Colorado Mechanics Lien Law, subcontractors and suppliers have the right to place a lien on an owner’s property if they are not paid by the contractor for the work they performed on the home, according to the release.
• Understand your rights under the Residential Roofing Services statute. A roofing contractor must disclose their surety and liability coverage insurer, and provide the homeowner with written notification that the roofing contractor shall hold any payment form the residential property owner in trust until the roofing contractor has delivered roofing materials or has performed a majority of the roofing work on the residential property.
The 18th Judicial District Attorney’s Office consumer protection line is 720-874-8547.
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