You SHOULD Know This BEFORE You Replace Your Roof After Hurricane Ian
It’s safe to assume you’re front door hasn’t had a rest, each day or every other hour it’s a new contractor looking to earn your business. Unfortunately, many people will be caught in a web of lies, scams, and blatant disregard for Florida Building Codes and Insurance Regulations. Follow these steps to help ensure you’re picking the right contractor for the job.
Be Weary Of Storm Chasers
Storm Chasers or “Chuck in a Truck”, even if they MIGHT be licensed in the State of Florida, the contractors might not know current Florida Building Codes or Insurance Laws. Along with that, they may offer you a LIFETIME labor warranty. That warranty won’t be honored if they work here for a year and leave the state to chase the next storm. Find a local roofing contractor that has been here years before the storm and will be here years after and has a record of following up on workmanship warranties. Verify that they have a dedicated in-house service department.
Be Weary Of “FEMA” Inspectors & Contractors
A rampant scam we have seen is out-of-state contractors with magnets on their work vehicles reading “DISASTER RELIEF” or “FEMA CONTRACTOR”, both of these magnets can be bought for $20 on Amazon. Always verify that the person is who they say they are. Here’s how you can identify that the person at your door or on the phone is a FEMA inspector.
In-person inspection: All FEMA personnel and contractors carry official identification. Applicants should always ask the inspector to show them their official badge, which shows their name and photo. Contract inspectors for FEMA may carry a badge issued by their employer. It, too, will show their name, photo, and possibly, an ID number.
Remote inspection: Inspectors verify they have reached the right applicant by asking for the last four digits of the applicant’s nine-digit FEMA registration number. The inspector provides the first four digits of the applicant’s registration ID. Applicants receive the registration number when they complete a FEMA application.
A few other points to keep in mind about FEMA inspectors:
They do not request money to complete an inspection and they do not promise that you will receive a grant.
They have your address from your FEMA disaster assistance application, but they may contact you for directions to your property.
They may use phone calls, text messages, and emails—the contact information you provided in your FEMA application.
Inspectors may call from FEMA-issued phones or personal cell phones, and the area codes could be from somewhere outside New York state.
Someone wearing a shirt or jacket that says FEMA does not constitute an official ID. Ask to see their FEMA photo ID badge. Federal law prohibits taking a photo or photocopying U.S. government identification cards. It is a violation that is punishable by fine and imprisonment.
Check The Certifications and Contracts
A qualified roofing contractor will display their license number (CCC#######) on their contract, business cards, marketing materials, and vehicles. Verify that this license number belongs to the company that is operating the business. This information can be found at https://www.myfloridalicense.com/. All contracts should have the company's office location, phone number, license number as stated above, and email address. If this information is not provided, that is a RED FLAG.
Ask For A Estimate
If you have an open insurance claim, as of July 1st, 2021, new statutes from Senate Bill 76, a contractor is REQUIRED to provide you a Good Faith Estimate. A majority of contractors that are from out of state are not familiar with these laws. Below is an excerpt from SB-76 explaining the breakdown.
(e) Providing an insured with an agreement authorizing repairs without providing a good faith estimate of the itemized and detailed cost of services and materials for repairs undertaken pursuant to a property insurance claim. A contractor does not violate this paragraph if, as a result of the process of the insurer adjusting a claim, the actual cost of repairs differs from the initial estimate. A contractor who violates this section is subject to disciplinary proceedings as set forth in s. 489.129. A contractor may receive up to a $10,000 fine for each violation of this section.
Scope of Work
The Good Faith Estimate as described above is a generalized estimate based on the size of your roof and a breakdown of what the project will entail, once you sign with a contractor and allow them to work with you and your insurance company to restore your property to pre-loss conditions. The contractor should use the same software as your insurance company to mitigate price discrepancies going forward. The software a majority of insurance carriers use is called Xactimate. A Xactimate estimate is created utilizing regional market pricing at the time the estimate is created. Due to the nature of fluctuations in market conditions, the costs and pricing contained in the Xactimate are subject to increases or decreases at any time and may not accurately reflect the actual costs necessary to repair or replace your property.
Say NO to AOBs. (Assignment of Benefits)
An AOB is an agreement that gives the benefits of your claim, and in some instances complete control of your claim, to someone else. It’s usually used so that a contractor can “stand in your shoes” and file a claim, make decisions about repairs, and collect insurance payments from your insurance company directly for covered repairs. In some states, the contractor will even file a lawsuit against your insurer as your assignee.
Because the assignment of benefits takes control out of the homeowner’s hands, insurance fraud is a major concern. Some contractors may take advantage of the situation and inflate repair needs and costs or bill for work that was never completed. They may also hire attorneys to sue the insurance company if it does not pay the full amount of their estimate or denies claims. Universal Contracting & Solar does not use AOBs for the work required as our reputation, communication and software can resolve a majority of all insurance claim roof restoration projects.
Liability and Insurance Documentation
Make sure that the contractor your selecting has Full Liability Insurance of $2,000,000 and Workman Comp coverage on the Company and the Crews.
Florida Contractor Laws allow subcontractors to place a lien on your property if the company does not pay them. Finding a contractor that uses in-house labor negates the concern for a lien to be placed on your property from a subcontractor. Not only that but in-house labor is usually fully supervised and quality control is strictly enforced. Giving you peace of mind on your project knowing the work is not being rushed.
ACCORDING TO FLORIDA’S CONSTRUCTION LIEN LAW (SECTIONS 713.001-713.37, FLORIDA STATUTES), THOSE WHO WORK ON YOUR PROPERTY OR PROVIDE MATERIALS AND SERVICES AND ARE NOT PAID IN FULL HAVE A RIGHT TO ENFORCE THEIR CLAIM FOR PAYMENT AGAINST YOUR PROPERTY. THIS CLAIM IS KNOWN AS A CONSTRUCTION LIEN. IF YOUR CONTRACTOR OR A SUBCONTRACTOR FAILS TO PAY SUBCONTRACTORS, SUB-SUBCONTRACTORS, OR MATERIAL SUPPLIERS, THOSE PEOPLE WHO ARE OWED MONEY MAY LOOK TO YOUR PROPERTY FOR PAYMENT, EVEN IF YOU HAVE ALREADY PAID YOUR CONTRACTOR IN FULL. IF YOU FAIL TO PAY YOUR CONTRACTOR, YOUR CONTRACTOR MAY ALSO HAVE A LIEN ON YOUR PROPERTY.
If you’re looking for a trustworthy and reliable local roofing or solar contractor that uses in-house labor, Universal Contracting & Solar has you covered. With our team of professionals in Florida, you can rest assured that your roof will be provided with the best care and the job gets done right the first time. Visit our website at www.ucroof.com or call us at (239) 321-5886 to learn more.
Senate Bill 76 - https://www.flsenate.gov/Session/Bill/2021/76/BillText/er/HTML
FEMA Inspectors - https://www.fema.gov/fact-sheet/how-identify-fema-inspector
Contactor Lein Laws- http://www.leg.state.fl.us/statutes/index.cfm?App_mode=Display_Statute&URL=0700-0799/0713/0713.html
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