Wallingford, CT - February 4, 2011 – Connecticut Better Business Bureau is advising consumers to be careful when selecting a contractor to get rid of snow and ice from residential and commercial property roofs.
Fly-by-night contractors are offering roof snow removal services by fax, in flyers and on notices posted on neighborhood bulletin boards and telephone poles. These ads can be risky propositions. In addition, in calls to Connecticut BBB consumers say some unscrupulous neighborhood contractors offer an estimate, and subsequently bill for double or triple that amount when the work is completed.
While it may not seem like a difficult process, Connecticut Better Business Bureau President, Paulette Scarpetti, says this is a potentially dangerous activity with significant consequences.
“It is rare that we have this much snow accumulation on roofs, and it is a money-maker for individuals and contractors because the importance of removing the excess weight and ice as quickly as possible. If however, the contractor is not trained, there is the potential of damaging or even destroying a roof.”
Aside from expertise, it is essential to demand proof of up-to-date insurance or workers’ compensation from the contractor, to ensure that if a worker is injured on the job, that the consumer won’t be responsible for liability.
What happened at a Milford-based company illustrates the importance of checking contractors’ paperwork carefully. After receiving a fax offering roof snow clearing services, the contractor sent a photocopy of an insurance certificate, however the insurance had expired and the workers had no liability coverage whatsoever.
Connecticut Better Business Bureau recommends consumers and business owners steer clear of any contractor who is not willing to provide proof of insurance coverage.
Homeowners can use a snow rake to remove excess snow and ice dams – ridges that form at the edge of a roof – however, even if care is taken, roofing materials can be damaged.
BBB offers the following tips for hiring a company to deal with ice dams and snow buildup:
- Check out the company’s record at www.bbb.org or by calling 203-269-2700.
- Make sure the company has insurance and that its workers are covered under workers’ compensation.
- Obtain estimates from 2 or more companies. Prices can vary widely and are usually based on the amount of work. Remember, the least expensive service is not always the best service.
- Ask about each company’s experience working on roofs and ice dams, as well as what techniques they will use to get the job done. Less intrusive techniques may prevent or reduce potential damage to your roofing.
- Ask the contractor about additional charges and price options. Beside the quoted price, there are sometimes additional charges during large storms. After the snow reaches a certain depth, some snow removal contractors charge by the inch, so you'll want to find out how the company calculates the size of the snowfall. Other contractors may offer a fixed price for an entire season, regardless of the amount of snow.
- Make sure you know what services you're getting. Find out exactly what's included in the estimate. Make sure all verbal promises are included.
- Ask for references and check them out.
- Do not settle on an agreement over the telephone. The contractor should provide you with a written agreement. A representative should come out to examine your property and make notes about the service requested and potential obstacles. Before you sign the agreement, ask who will be responsible for damages.
- Avoid contractors who pull up in a truck offering to ‘save you some money.’ A roof is not an area where you should cut corners.
You can find more helpful consumer tips on a wide variety of subjects, visit http://ct.bbb.org/Consumer-Tips/