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Raising questions on raising the roof


Second of a three-part series dealing with roof replacement prompted by damages to residences from the April 27 hailstorms.



Ask nearly anyone, and they’ll tell you out-of-town contractors and roofing companies are necessary to handle the flood of repairs needed after Knoxville’s devastating spring hail storms.

“I’ve been doing this for 17 years and I’ve never seen a storm of this magnitude, of this damage. This one encompassed such a huge area,” said Chris Helm of Roofing and Restoration Services of America, a national outfit working with Superior Construction and Design, a local company, owned by Tony Key since 2006.

Helm’s company is just one example of how out-of-towners are providing consumers with options for choosing a roofing contractor.


According to Michael Hawn of Roofing Professionals, there are three kinds of out-of-town roofing contractors.

And he should know, coming to Knoxville from Florida himself.

Hawn said there are “restoration companies” such as Roofing Professionals, which travel to storm-damaged areas working with insurance companies.

Then there are the companies many call “storm chasers,” the contractors who swoop in to “pick the low-hanging fruit,” Hawn said, and stay for only a matter of months.

Finally, there are out-of-town roofers who work with, or are even qualified by, in-town contractors. They might even use a local contractor’s name or business title for a fee, a process Hawn calls “setting,” that he adds is fairly common.

All of that could add up to confusion for homeowners searching for reputable contractors.

But Eric Wylie of Roofing by RLI, a local company founded in 2008 by Steve Holley, said out-of-town companies are helping to work a caseload that could not possibly be handled solely by contractors that were already here.

“Without them, there’s no way that half of these homeowners would be able to get all their work done in a timely manner. With the sheer number of claims that are going on in this market right now, you have to have that,” Wylie said.

All three of these roofing repair company spokesmen said there are definitely questions consumers should ask before choosing a contractor:

• Ask for a license number, then check to see that the company is reputable

• Ask for references from previous clients. In addition, ask your neighbors which company they used or ask your insurance agent who they would recommend

• Ask how workmanship warranties are guaranteed

• And ask if the company insures its workers

“Otherwise, homeowners could be responsible if something did happen on that roof,” Wylie said.

And everyone also agreed that consumers should be wary of companies that ask for money in advance of any work being done.

“That’s a definite red flag,” Helm said.

“We do it for what the insurance companies pay. They’ll put in a profit for a roofing company, they will. But it’s minimal,” Hawn said of his company’s payment process.

The other potential red flag is warranty promises, which can vary drastically from company to company, or even project to project; and which are a definite concern with out-of-town companies that might be gone in a year or two.

“There are those companies ... that go through neighborhoods and they’ll do roofs and they’ll leave. They’ll tell you it’s ‘A lifetime warranty on our work, 10 years, 15 years,’ but they know they won’t be here,” Hawn said.

According to Hawn, manufacturer’s warranties cover most defects with the products. Workmanship warranties vary, and he said it’s unlikely a workmanship error would pop up years after installation.

“If we mess up, you’ll know the very first rain,” he said, avoiding citing any specific warranty numbers for Roofing Professionals.

Helm said Roofing and Restoration Services of America offers warranties of 10 years, backed by another company, 3C. If a workmanship problem arose within 10 years, 3C would fix the roof, under warranty, using any company — local or not — that also was affiliated with 3C.

So are there benefits to going with a local company or an out-of-town company?

That depends on who you ask.

Spokesmen for national companies, and companies that follow catastrophes, such as Helm and Hawn, will tell you they have more experience working with insurance companies and under insurance deadlines.

But Wylie said, “We all can get the products to do the work ... and we have someone here that knows the market, where to get the product, and have the manpower to actually perform the work and get everything done in a reasonable amount of time.”

 

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