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Question DetailsAsked on 12/5/2016

Is roofing contractor responsible?

I paid a contractor to install a roof. They started on a Wednesday with rain expected in the upcoming weekend.
Friday they tarped up some of the roof but not all of it and a huge leak came up. Half of the roof is up and I still owe the contractor $500. However, he says he is not responsible for the leak because they were setback like three hours with shingle delivery the day they were supposed to start.

- The day of shingle delivery (Wednesday) they went home at about 12 PM because they were "tired"
- Thursday they went home at about 3:30, who knows why, but there was still about 2 1/2 hours left to work with daylight
-Friday they half a**ed covered the roof with a tarp but with nothing to hold it down.

What would be the best course of action?

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2 Answers


Must be a LARGE roof (or tile) if they could not do it all in 3 work days, or they were lazy - normal roof is done in one day - 2 if significant sheathing replacement is needed. Oh - now I see - sounds like the lazy variety maybe.

This case indicates part of the problem of paying too much up front - a $500 final payment is not enough to seriously get his attention if he is at risk of losing it.

The shingle delivery is his problem not yours, and the delay has nothing to do with the leak because he knew he needed to protect the property and tarp it - which he did. The tarp job just evidently was not good enough or did not cover all the area it should have. Also, the fact they knocked off early two days and evidently did not work on Friday at all indicates there was plenty of work time available despite the shingles being 3 hours late. Plus a good contractor, unless the roof needs substantial structural repair before reroofing, does not wait till the roofing day to deliver materials - commonly they are storecd in the garage for several days, or if using store boomtruck to put them on the roof, han them delivered a day or two before and distributes the bundles over the roof (to avoid excess concentrated loading) so they are there and ready when needed - though that does mean rehandling them for stripoff and applying water barrier, but that is HIS choice - the alternative is stockpiling in the garage or under a tarp and then putting them on the roof after it is stripped off, manually or with a roof-mounted winch and boom, or using his own (or rented) boomtruck or manlift or liftbed truck or whatever.

If you have talked only to the crerw leader, if not the owner - contact the owner immediately - he may be more responsive to this issue.

Otherwise, I would start with a certified return receipt signature-required letter (keep copy and receipts) to him stating it was his responsibility to protect the house from weather while the roof was off and that the water damage is therefore his responsiblity - and document at least initially in general (take lots of photos, and don't throw any damaged materials) what the leak damage is. State you are documenting the general extent of damage, pending final assessment of extent and amount of damage.

Document the condition of the tarp and such if not fixed yet too. that it is blown back, not tied down with bundles of shingles or nailed-down battern boards, etc. and write up and date and sign a declaration of the job progress to date - early knock-off, poor tarping, etc. Also, if a neighbor can attest to working hours, unfastened tarp, etc a written and signed and dated statement from him/her would help too. Ditto to other family members - all to document in a timely manner the current/recent historic conditions so it is considered a "contemporaneous record" rather than memories dulled by time.

If interior damage, wet rugs or furniture, etc, you are within your rights to have a Water and Smoke damage contractor or carpet cleaner or such in to dry it out before it starts mildewing and molding, to have valuables or papers or electronics and such handled to stop deterioration or damage - to the extent of necessary "emergency" response - and expect hjim to pay the resonable cost of that. Damage which is not "emergency" like stained paint or flooring or such, if not a mildew/mold risk, should not be repaired until the insurance company (or possibly his bonding compoany) can assess it and arrange for repair/replacement.

If you think he is going to not come through on this himself, I would also address and send the letter to HIS insurance company as a second recipient ,stating this is a claim for damages due to his failure to protect the work and house, and that you expect him and/or his insurance to pay all the costs for the damage.

If the damage is significant, probably would be a good idea to get an attorney practicing in residential contracts and liability cases to at least consult, if not to actually write the letter (which will get a lot more immediate attention if you do that) - but you need to get a demand for correction/compensation to the contractor immediately - withing a day or so.

The issue of completing the roof is presumably gone - but the roofing should not be finished over wet sheathing. Damp (not soaking wet) water barrier is not so much of a problem.

Answered 3 years ago by LCD



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