Canadian Contractor

John Bleasby   

Roofers gone wrong: It’s how mistakes are resolved that matters

Canadian Contractor

Learning from roofer mistakes (and trying not to laugh)

Roofers can be a lightning rod for abuse when it comes to safety-at-heights violations, sales scams, and claims of poor workmanship. But let’s be honest; it’s a tough job and someone has to do it. And for the dozen or so horror stories that come out each roofing season, there are hundreds of thousands of quality roof repairs and replacements across the continent completed by first-rate operators.

In fact, Nicole Silver of TrustedPros told Canadian Contractor that 82% of responding Canadian clients had a positive experience when they last hired a bad rooferroofer. The Ontario Ministry of Government and Consumer Services told Canadian Contractor more or less the same thing. “The ministry in 2015 received approximately 1,600 complaints and inquiries about home renovation services [#2 among all consumer complaints], of which 21% were related to roofers.” So it’s more a question of what the entire industry can do to improve its record and stay out of the press!

Nevertheless, there’s nothing as basic as a solid roof over one’s head. So when roofing horror stories hit the media, they can shock or amuse, depending on your sense of humour. But for the home building and renovations professional, you, there’s a lesson to be learned with each story: ‘How to deal with a mistake’.

Denial! Denial? Da-Nile? Dat’s the name of a river!
Just the other week, a story emerged about a Jacksonville Florida homeowner who had repeatedly told a roofing company they were at the wrong address and that they had not agreed to a new roof. The roofing company disagreed and started work anyway. They then discovered that in fact the homeowner was correct and that their real customer lived elsewhere.


scam roofer3So what happened next? Did the roofer apologise, finish the job for free, and move on? No. Apparently they not only demanded full payment, they asked the homeowner to sign a backdated building permit application and notice of commencement. The home owner refused, and now is being sued, with the roofer’s lawyers insisting the homeowner had not only needed a new roof but also believed the roofing company had been hired by their insurance company.

Quick! Let’s clear out and hope no one notices!
A Calgary woman had her roof damaged this past winter when stacks of shingles meant for a nearby house were mistakenly delivered to her house instead, lifted up to the roof, and secured with boards nailed to her perfectly good pine-shingled roof. When the mistake was discovered, the roofers pulled up the boards and carried the shingles away. If it weren’t for her neighbor noticing, the homeowner would never have known, until it rained. As it is, she now faces a $7800 repair estimate to repair the dozens of nail holes left in her roof. However, any replacement shingles won’t match the original ones, and the cost for re-shingling the entire roof could cost as much as $45,000! At last report, the parties involved were still in discussions.

Where’s my roof? I had one this morning!
How about the guy who came home from work one day and found part of his roof’s shingling gone?  Roofers had arrived at his house that morning and began stripping the shingles. When they discovered they were at the wrong house, they went to the correct address before the first homeowner got home, leaving the roof half removed. The roofing company’s response was to claim that the roof had suffered hail damage anyway, and offered only to install new shingles where they had removed the old, leaving the house with a mismatched roof.

Clearly these are extreme examples of resolution management. Anyone can make a mistake and inevitably will. However, making good with a homeowner, even if they aren’t your intended client, is far better than threatening to sue or making half-baked proposals.

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