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Question DetailsAsked on 10/14/2016

my roofer caused water damage to my house and has no insurance. What do I do!!!

My roofer got off the roof. Laid tar paper and told me it was dried in. It rained that night and caused water damage on most of the sheet rock in the house. He then tells me he will fix it all. He as no insurance. I hired a new company and they say it will be 20k to fix. The insurance is saying roofer A needs to pay for it all. He has no insurance so can't. Shouldn't my insurance cover the bill and go after roofer a legally. While foofer/remodler b starts working on the house? I need help quick. This has been going on for a week now. Insurance is reviewing the case but seems like they do not want to help me out.

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Another case of 20-20 hindsight on needing insurance, workers comp coverage, and bonding on almost all jobs and especially ones where the weatherproofing of the house is being removed and replaced.


You need an attorney to advise you and help put legal pressure on the various parties - roofer, GC if there is one, and insurance company. And probably starting off by getting it dried in if not done yet as emergency protection against further damage, and by getting a professional damage assessment by an independent insurance damage appraiser/adjuster.


Roofer should probably pay for it, depending on what the contrat says about temporary weather protection and act-of-god weather events - and it is possible that even if he does not have insurance that part of the damage might be covered by his Bonding company, via a call on his bond. [Don't say it - not bonded either]. If he does not cover out of his own funds.


By hiring Company B after Company A said it would repair the water damage, you may have shot yourself in the foot and let him off the hook by effectively preventing him from making good on the drywall repair (and I would not doubt flooring/subflooring as well, and possibly wiring damage from water in the wiring or conduits and panels and such, if in. And HVAC system, etc - depending on the completion status of the work and whether this isw remodel, reroof, or new construction. Hopefully A has completed the roof at least now.


In fact, if B is "on the job" A may have a claim against YOU for preventing him from doing the work under the contract, so he may file a claim against you or sue you for breach of contract, because this damage does not (without proper contract termination procedures at least) give you the right to unilaterally terminate his contract.


A is potentially at fault - in court might actually not be found at fault, since he did tarpaper it before leaving for the day. Court could (and commonly does) find it to be an act of mother nature - and that is probably the approach to take with the insurance company, because unless the tarpaper was layered wrong (bottom over top so water run in under) a normal rain without high winds should not have gotten through the tarpaper. Normally good quality tarpaper (asphalt impregnated roofing felt), without blowunder or blowoff of the tarpaper, can last through several days of rain without water getting past the sheathing. Had a shed once that lasted several years with only good quality heavy-duty tarpaper over it and no leakage.


Your attorney would have to read through your insurance contract - but I have never seen one that disallows claims for damages because a contractor failed to fully prevent weather damage during repairs - though new construction/addition might be a bind if you did not modify your policy to add insurance for the addition as soon as construction started - or got a new construction binder, in some states. I HAVE seen cases where homeowner's insurance covered rain damage while a reroof was in progress - both without tarpaper/water barrier and with it but blown partly off in a storm.


Whether the contractor A is "responsible" or not is for the courts - but undoubtedly if your insurance company covers the loss, they will then take your subordinated claim and turn around and sue the contractor, undoubtedly, to recover what they paid out. But that should not prevent them from covering your claim, in the normal insurance contracts I have seen.


Couple of other thoughts for you and your attorney:


1) was the roofer working for you or for a General Contractor - if working for GC, HE is who YOU should be dealing with (and HIS insurance if he does not make it good on his own).


2) assuming this was a licensed contractor, talk to your attorney about whether your state has a homeowner's compensation fund for botched jobs by contractors - a few do and will pay at least part of the cost of issues like this is the contractor was not insured as required by law


3) you always, after other recourses fail to meet the bill, have the option of suing the contractor for recovery of the damages (which you and your insurance company should be well documenting at this time) including costs for protection of the exposed structure/finishes if the roof has not been finished yet as well as the repair work. How do you feel about owning a roofing company, because that is a possible outcome, especially if he was required by law to have insurance and did not have it. And bear in mind generally any outlaw/expense by the insurance company on the case will come out of any settlement or suit proceeds first.


4) depending on how this guy is operating and presenting himself as a roofer, it is possible (though not normal) that if he is operating as a sole proprietor rather than a partnership or corporation or such, that his own homeowner's insurance might be claimed against via a personal liability action against the contractor. There are several legal premises that your attorney can use to attach that source of funds - including if he is not running a separate company/corporation but is basically working out of his home (making home the place of business hence operations there potentially covered under his homeowner's insurance), also if he was required by law to have business insurance and did not that could become a personal liability or even civil fraud claim against his homeowner's insurance and any Umbrella policy he may have. Long shots but sometimes worth a try - sometimes even if not technically covered, unless coverage for home business is specifically EXCLUDED in his policy an insurance company will pay a portion of a claim just to get it closed and not set a potentially disastrous legal precedent by going to court.


5) if the tarpaper was properly laid and overlapped and stapled/nailed down (i.e. did not blow off) and water went through it, could have a claim against the manufacturer. Rarely works, but there are some substandard tarpapers and roofing water membranes out there which are not at all waterproof or even significantly water resistant - ran into one some months ago that soaked up water like a sponge, and if you wetted it thoroughly and then held it out in a dish shape and poured water in it, the water ran through it like through a saturated sponge. So be sure to keep several large samples of any torn off tarpaper from what he had put up.

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BTW - should go without saying, but the wet sheathing and roof framing should be exposed to drying conditions and dried out before recommencing the roofing job.

Answered 2 years ago by LCD




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