Back in May of 2006, we had our house in Olympia, Washington, reroofed
by a local roofing company with 40 year composite for around $8k. They
came with good recommendations and seemed to have done a good job on our
roof. About 3 weeks ago, we noticed water dripping through the drywall
just inside the main entrance of the house. We called the roofing
company's number in hopes of arranging a repair of the leaking roof. We
were shocked to get another roofing business, who said that they had
recently bought the business from the roofing company we did business
with. They said that they were not responsible for the work of the
previous roofing business. We then called the cell number we were given
by the original roofing company owner. A child answered and said that
her father was in jail and no longer in the roofing business.
Subsequent calls to the cell number only got an automated message saying
that the cell memory was full and could not take any more messages.
Besides hiring another roofing company to fix the leak, what can we do?
Is there any way to have the repair done by the original roofing
company or at least have them pay for the repair? Can we take him to
small claims court? Should we involve our home insurance company?
Thanks for any advice or suggestions.
couple of reputable roofers to come over, inspect the roof, tell you
what the problem is and how much it's going to cost to fix it. There
are two extremes of possibilities. One is it's a minor problem
localized to the one area. The other is the whole roof was done
If it's the former, then I'd just get it fixed, pay for it myself and
forget about it. If it's the latter, then you may want to take the
advice of consulting a lawyer. But I would not put more than a couple
hundred bucks into any legal option. If you decide to go the legal
route, you're going to find the only viable option will be to have it
fixed, then take the new company to small claims. Otherwise the
legal fees will exceed what it's worth; you don't know that you will
win. A lawyer can give you advice as to whether the new company is
liable or not. My understanding is that if they in fact bought the
business, then they are responsible for any warranties that were
given. Did you get one? Is the problem due to a defect covered by
any warranty, or could it be attributed to something else, say a
windstorm, or gutters backing up? The other possibilities are that
only the assets of the business were sold, ie his truck, ladders,
etc. Or that nothing was sold, he just has calls forwarded to his
buddy. In those cases, they are generally not liable. And of course,
trying to figure out and then prove which it is ain't easy either.
And then comes the biggest problem of all. Even if you get a
judgement in small claims court, collecting it is a different
matter. Many of these guys are judgement proof. They have assets
like homes, vehicles, etc in someone elses name and you will have a
very hard time getting them to pay. Lots of times they don't even
show up in court, because they know this.
Just curious, is there anything on paper stating a labor warranty of any
kind? If so I would think the new company will have some liability and
if they balk then, the states attorney generals office could probably help.
No need for an express warranty. The implied warranty and warranty for
fitness would be good enough. As for the new company being liable, it
depends on how the companies were set up (partnership or corporation?).
When you\'re in it up to your ears, keep your mouth shut!
Lost of interesting possibilities in the situation .. one or both owners
sole prop. or incorporated? If B bought the business from A, along with
equipment and accounts receiveable, he may also have "bought" your
warranty. Got a written warranty? Written bid that might include
wording about corrections?
But, the most immediate issue is your leak. You might want to check
with the shingle mfg. to see if they have certified roofers in your
area, then call one to get a written bid on correcting the problem.
Have you inspected close up, in and out, to see what the problem might
be? Is there a window above the leak? Valleys or chimney nearby that
might have flashing problems? Did the leak show up after a severe
storm? Any rain since?
If the new company "bought the business" then the new
company acquired the liabilities, IMO. I think you have
a very solid claim despite their initial blow-off.
If they bought the assets (i.e. not the liabilities)
you'll be on more questionable ground.
Try and find out what the new company really bought
and file a suit in small claims court.
| Malcolm Hoar "The more I practice, the luckier I get". |
1) Contact the new company. Tell them you intend to repair the
leak and have the rest of the roof checked to make sure it is an
isolated problem rather than a faulty install that will require
Ask what they are prepared to do in this regard. Make careful notes.
If nothing, then move to 2).
2) Get the leak repaired. Check that it is an isolated
circumstance -- and not a major flaw in the roofing job.
Get two opinions if one says it's a major flaw. Get quotes.
3) If it turns out to be a small repair, do it -- and forget it.
4) Otherwise, contact your local licensing department ...and if there
is a state licensing/consumer protection agency, contact them. Follow
their advice, particularly in regard to the transferof business from
one company to another.
It's possible the original contractor was required to post a bond and
to maintain that bond. If so, you can claim against it. If not,
you're probably S.O.L. My bet would be that he was required to post
a bond, but didn't.
The legalities are expensive to pursue. There are circumstances under
which the new company would be liable, but they are uncommon among
smallerbusinesses. Again, your state agency can advise.
Your best hope is that it is a small, isolated problem. At 8
thousand dollars total, your problem is not worth a lawyer's time.
Thanks for all the excellent advice. We are fortunate to have been able
to track down the original roofing company owner and talk with him on
the phone. He apologized and said that, when he is down in our area
this weekend to visit his mother, he will fix the leak. Evidently he
has moved up to Seattle and works up there. But he is responsible
enough to see to the repairs of his earlier work. Of course we will be
holding our breath until he actually shows up to do the work.
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