Archive for Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Roofers make headway on requiring licensure

April 9, 2008


You don't want a fiddler on the roof - you want a licensed roofer, several Lawrence contractors told city commissioners Tuesday evening.

City commissioners at their weekly meeting directed staff members to put together a formal proposal to add a new program that would require roofers operating in Lawrence to first receive a license from the city.

"We routinely run into complaints from people we're doing bids for who have had bad past experiences with roofers," said David McLaughlin of Lawrence's McLaughlin roofing.

McLaughlin represented seven Lawrence roofing companies who are asking city leaders to create a new system where roofers would have to receive a city license, pull a permit for each project they undertake and have their work undergo an inspection by city building inspectors.

Currently, the roofs of newly constructed homes are inspected by building inspectors. But roofs that are redone on existing homes go through no inspections, and roofers are not required to be licensed in the city. McLaughlin said that can create problems for homeowners.

"Sometimes these roofer may not have the minimum insurance needed," McLaughlin said. "They may come along some - let's call it bad luck - by opening up a roof and then it rains. The consumer takes the brunt of that mistake."

Commissioners said they could see a need for the licensing requirement, which would be similar to the system general homebuilders in the city are required to go through. Some commissioners said they particularly were concerned that consumers might be vulnerable following a storm, when demand for roofers is high.

"If consumers are at the will of the storm chasers coming in, the costs of that in the long run can be incredible to the homeowner," City Commissioner Sue Hack said.

But commissioners stopped short of saying they would create the new licensing system. Instead, they said they needed more information about whether it would require more staffing in the city's Neighborhood Resources Department.

City staff members said that was a possibility. They said there could be up to 1,000 reroofing projects a year that could require inspections.

Commissioners likely will decide whether to move forward on the licensing system as part of their budget deliberations this summer.


WHY 10 years, 1 month ago

My brothers and I have roofed for several years, so there are definately local roofers. There should be a licience required to force illegal immigrants out of the job market. The licience should simply require a drivers licience to roof. That would eliminate illegals and give a name and address to send any law suits resulting from bad work.

BrianR 10 years, 1 month ago

It's not about qualifications it's about liability. How do the actions of a do-it-yourselfer involve a third party contractor?

Sigmund 10 years, 1 month ago

This isn't about protecting Lawrence homeowners, it is about restricting competition for local roofers and new jobs for city inspectors.

Poon 10 years, 1 month ago

Somebody once told me a joke about the roof, but it went over my head.

Janet Lowther 10 years, 1 month ago

Is it any wonder Lawrence's growth has slowed to a crawl, if not slipped into reverse?The commission talks about affordable housing, then takes actions which drive up costs. Rental licenses, contractor licensing, and now roofer licensing.It doesn't take a Ph.D. in economics to understand that the city government's actions are a major contributor to the lack of affordable housing in Lawrence. A good friend just moved to Topeka 'cause there were NO apartments available in Lawrence that he could afford on SSI.

Jean1183 10 years, 1 month ago

What about the "do it yourself" homeowner? Will they be under the same requirements?

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 1 month ago

Actually, only the contractor needs be licensed, although all work done under a permit issued to them does have to be done under their close supervision. But policing whether or not the work is done under "close supervision" is practically impossible, so even with licensure, most of the work could still be done by undocumented workers.The main effect of licensure would be to force smaller contractors out of the business, leaving only larger contractors, who would actually be more likely to hire undocumented workers..Requiring permits and inspections is all that is really needed to insure that substandard work is not being done.

straighttalker 10 years, 1 month ago

with a dozen roofs under your belt I do not think it would be a better job, cheeper no contest. I think your idea of covering a roof in the rain, or being able to both roof and check the weather site is unrealistic. One or two guys felting a roof in the rain when the roof is a 9/12 pitch, and the wind is blowing is pertnear imposible. If there is not that much risk involved in roofing why do you supose roofers pay the highest primiums of all building trades, aside from the obvious risk associated with being up there in the first place. I can tell you, many a homes have been damaged by water ether during instalation or after from leaks caused by inexperiance.

Godot 10 years, 1 month ago

If this is implemented, be prepared to wait for months and months, and pay extra, to get your roof repaired after the next catastropic hail or wind storm. Seems to me a homeowner would get several bids and check references and ask for proof of insurance before hiring a roofer.Last time I had a roof replaced I hired a firm from Kansas City, based on a referral. They did a great job, on time, and for less money than the Lawrence roofers were asking.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 1 month ago

"Seems to me a homeowner would get several bids and check references and ask for proof of insurance before hiring a roofer."It would seem a much better approach if the city would provide the information a homeowner needs to be a better and smarter consumer, and thus be able to find the answers to the questions that Godot suggests.

Rob Martin 10 years, 1 month ago

We had our roof done the last storm that came through. I called 3 companies and requested bids and referals. One didn't even bother to come look at it when I asked for a referal. One came but didn't supply a bid. The third one came, provided a bid, gave referals, and was very reasonably priced. Asking for referals, and then calling those referals, is prudent. The bad taste of a poor job done will quickly bitter the sweet deal of a low bid. Get a referal.

Raider 10 years, 1 month ago

Sigmund nailed it. This is about local contractors not wanting roofing companies from KC or Topeka coming in to compete. While the need for liability is there, any reputable company (whether local or not) will have enough coverage. If someone is stupid enough to not do their homework and hire a contractor who doesn't have insurance, then they get what they deserve.I have no problem hiring locally, but if the out of town company will save me hundreds of dollars or more, then I'm going with that bid. (assuming they are bonded and reputable)

straighttalker 10 years, 1 month ago

O neglected to mention that homeowners can do their own roof and help from a friend or family member is not illegal. This is kind of a loop hole that some roofers will use to do roofs. That is okay the consumer hireing these folks will likly know what they are getting in to as they will have to say their doing the roof if asked.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 1 month ago

I agree with you to an extent, Marion. Just because the workers are undocumented doesn't mean that they don't know what they are doing. I've seen many roofs installed in Lawrence by folks I would suspect of being undocumented, and they almost all appear to be doing it well. That said, there are plenty of local-grown roofers who would also do a fine job, and work just as hard at it.

july241983 10 years, 1 month ago

I wonder how non-english speaking countries survive without leak-free roofs. Everyone knows that only English speakers know how to properly do a roofing job. And ljreader is right. We need this licensing requirement, and we need to force more unfunded mandates on businesses (like E-verify), especially those that are ineffective in "verify"ing anything. That way, the next time there's a storm, it will cost $7000 for a roof that you won't get for three months. But, at least we'll be able to sleep at night knowing that the roofers spoke English as their first language."In case you didn't notice, I was being sarcastic." (Homer Simpson)

monkeyhawk 10 years, 1 month ago

"It would seem a much better approach if the city would provide the information a homeowner needs to be a better and smarter consumer, and thus be able to find the answers to the questions that Godot suggests."More boozoisms. Trust the government for everything. The way that certain individuals with the right last names seem to get whatever they want, the city is the last entity I would ever consider trusting with anything of a personal nature.I had a local company roof one of my properties a few yeas ago. I had to withhold payment until the roof worker who tagged my retaining wall with "Mexico" and some Spanish words that I will not repeat here.Rumor has it that McLaughlin actually lives in Oskaloosa, so now we have outsiders wanting to restrict competition to "local" companies. Another crock, sure to raise our living expenses once again.

bd 10 years, 1 month ago

Geez! I am sooooo tired of the phrase "undocumented workers" call it like it is "illegal aliens"Political correctness is going to doom this country!

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 1 month ago

"with a dozen roofs under your belt I do not think it would be a better job, cheeper no contest."Closer to 30, actually, and the last one was nearly ten years ago. I likely wouldn't be as fast as a crew that does it everyday, but I'd be in no particular hurry, either, so, yes, I'd do as good, and possibly a better job, but such a comparison also depends on whose work mine gets compared to." One or two guys felting a roof in the rain when the roof is a 9/12 pitch, and the wind is blowing is pertnear imposible. "Which is why I would watch the weather forecasts very closely so that I don't get in the position of having to do so. Roofing contractors with a large backlog of jobs often don't have that luxury, though, and sometimes find themselves doing exactly what you describe.BTW, I have no desire to put a roof on any house. It's one of the most physically demanding jobs in construction, and even though I'm fully capable of doing it, it'd take very unusual circumstances for me to even consider taking on another roofing project. Nevertheless, my position on this remains the same-- requiring permits and inspections is all that is needed. Licensure is designed purely to eliminate competition from smaller contractors.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 1 month ago

"More boozoisms. Trust the government for everything."WTF? Did you even read my posts? While I support requiring permits for and inspections of roof replacements, I oppose licensure. Roofing isn't rocket science, but most people still aren't qualified to know if the project is being done correctly, and many aren't physically able to even get up on the roof. Inspections would make sure that someone who knows something about it takes a look-see, and since they' have to be notified of the project, anyway, it's the perfect opportunity to provide the homeowner some basic information of what they should expect from a prospective contractor.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 1 month ago

The use of undocumented workers (labeling a person "illegal" simply because they are economic refugees borders on pure racism) is really no different morally from buying cheap crap at Wal-Mart, made by someone who almost certainly makes considerably less than the Mexican guy fixing your roof. You're still looking for the cheapest deal available, even if the one(s) providing the service have to live in subhuman conditions in order to provide it to you.

igby 10 years, 1 month ago

Screw these local roofers. There's no prof that the works by out of town roofers is no different than these local monopoly roofers. They just want more money and want to be protected for job security and income protection. Anyone can roof their own house without a permit. This will cost the tax payers $250,000 per year and these local will still hire illegals for less wages. Screw them.

cowboy 10 years, 1 month ago

This licensing is a major pile of BS. A contractor building structures , electricians , and plumbers need to be licensed. The surrounding trades providing a small piece of the total structure do not. This is simply a competition restricting tactic by these local roofing companies. Insurance is the major requirement .There is no reason the city cannot issue a permit and perform an inspection without adding all of this other hoopla to the process. I can tell you mr. homeowner that the city will also require you have a perfect structure before your roof is applied and this is all going to cost you more money. The elimination of the out of town competition will put you at the mercy of Lawrence contractors. if you want to roof your own rental house , forget it. The city permitting process states you can only perform work on your primary residence. In addition the city's process for approving licensees is an absolute farcical process. There are no firm criteria , references are not checked , and it is completely arbitrary. Im not against licensing and I have one , but this is just adding red tape , cost , and time delay to what should be a simple job. do a final inspection , pay a small inspection fee and get on with it. Keep it simple.

straighttalker 10 years, 1 month ago

The rumor is ture McLaughlin Roofing is based in Oskaloosa, PROOF POSITIVE that licinsing is not designed to exclude out of town roofers. Did anyone read the article in question. The facts: Homeowners doing their own roofing will not be required to obtain a license or permit, there will be no cap on licenses therfor no monopoly will be created, residensy in Lawrence or even in the state of Kansas is not a requierment for a license, any company operating a responsible buisness can obtain a license. Not one legitamate point has been risen aposing licensing. Deflecting the topic to imiration is off topic but the facts are most employers are not saving money by hiring latino employees who claim they are legal. All these employers can do is ask for an EIN or SS# once one is given they have met the current law standerd, they can then issue a 1099 or W2. The licensing requierments are as follows: be insured" work comp and liability", pass an exam on general roofing knowledge, and attend 8 continuing education credit hours yearly. The main pepole opposed to this must not want to get insurance" its expensive", and mabe they could not pass the exam. And yes the consumer should be informed, but many are not. When roofers print on bids and in the phone book that they are insured but are not, this is confusing to many. What is wrong for once having contractors ask for oversight, this seems responsible to me if they had things to hide this would not be a smart idea. Sorry to confuse the issue with the facts.

straighttalker 10 years, 1 month ago

Hey I wonder what cowboy thinks covers the whole structure. ask anyone with a large roof leak how minor the roof is in the grand scheme of the house. A final inspection is the only thing being discussed so Im not sure how the city can requier a perfect structure befor the roof is put on?? And yes insurance is a major part of any licensing requierment, if a rain comes in while a roof is open to the weather how much might the repairs cost??

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 10 years, 1 month ago

I've stripped and re-roofed at least a dozen roofs in my life, and done at least a dozen more on new construction, but if the licensure goes through, I couldn't put a roof on a relative's or friend's house, even though very likely I'd do a better and cheaper job than the majority of licensed contractors. And if you know how to roll on and secure roofing felt, and access a weather website, there isn't that much risk involved in replacing a roof.

roofingman 10 years, 1 month ago

Hello ljworld readers. I have been roofing in lawrence for 15 years. I have put on more than 4,000 roofs in lawrence alone not to mention surrounding towns. So I feel as I am well qualifed to respond to this story. It sounds to me that McLaughlin [not even from lawrence] and a few other roofing contractors have an agenda all to themselves and are afraid of competing with other roofing contractors not in there circle. What needs to be monitered is who is on the roof and the quality of work performed. I know McLaughlin and other contractors in this circle use crews and pay by the square to one leader who may have a work visa and some kind of insurance but the rest of the crew are illegal. This is very common in the roofing field. I bet that these roofing contractors dont even do any of the work on the roof themselves. A good roofing contractor is the leader of his crew. If the people of lawrence want to pay twice as much for their roof and get the same outcome as they do know then this is the answer.

915_Stroker 10 years, 1 month ago

hey roofingman are you one of the roofing companys in the lawrence yellow pages, that claim in their add , they have insurance, but really dont, seems like no insurance = lower bids = they get the job = homeowner gets screwed, I would pay fair roofing prices just for the peace of mind in knowing that if I pick up the lawrence yellow pages, looking for a roofing contractor, they ARE going to have insurance, the city would require it, I think alot of people read too much in to things

localrufr 10 years, 1 month ago

I have been in the roofing industry for over 24 yrs. I was told 10 yrs. ago that the hispanics were going to be the labor force of the future. Now here I sit trying to give a objective defense for that. This proposal isn't about trying to keep illegals from working in this town but trying to level the bidding process. If you compare the yellow pages from KC to here the amount of companies is almost 10 to 1. The majority of cities in Johnson County have the same licensing requirements as proposed here. I assume that regardless of the crew, that all homeowners want a quality job. That being said, an ad in the phonebook can say whatever makes a person feel good unless there is some sort of standard way for homeowners to have the city verify that their property is being protected. I don't think it is out of reason for the city to ask any contractors to provide proof of insurance. As for the workers on site, as long as the contractor is accessible and doesn't ask for funds up front, it shouldn't matter who is installing the material. The majority of the calls we get are referrals & that type of advertising is priceless. To address a contractor who lives out of the city, what does it matter as long as they give a homeowner a competitive bid & chances are they will be buying materials local plus gas food & possibly spend a few singles at The Bird or Allstars. As far as the color of the people showing up to do the work, I'm Native American and can barely order from Tacobell, so be careful of judging a book by it's cover.

localrufr 10 years, 1 month ago

You got me. Being as I'm the typical JoCo apple NDN (white on the inside, red on the out) ;)

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