The Roofing and Sheet Metal Contractors Association of Georgia (RASMCA), some Georgia roofing contractors, and an Atlanta television reporter have gotten together to put some light on the dangers of dealing with unscrupulous individuals putting themselves forward as roofing contractors.

The Roofing and Sheet Metal Contractors Association of Georgia (RASMCA), some Georgia roofing contractors, and an Atlanta television reporter have gotten together to put some light on the dangers of dealing with unscrupulous individuals putting themselves forward as roofing contractors. This report comes on the heels of a lot of storm work and a flood of storm chasers … some qualified and honest roofing contractors and some crooks.

Consumers should be warned about the dangers of dealing with anyone coming to do work on their homes, but especially the dangers of paying contractors up front. Especially a contractor who is not even listed in the phone book. But this kind of report paints the entire industry with the same brush. This report does feature representatives of legitimate contractors, but the real star of the story is the rip-off contractor.

The RASMCA of Georgia and its members have long lobbied the state for licensing roofing contractors. I am originally from Florida where licensing for roofing contractors has been the law for decades. In fact, the requirements to be a Florida certified roofing contractor are pretty substantial. Florida licensees are required to submit to a minimum amount of continuing education every year.

Florida roofing contractors will tell you they are glad the licensing laws are on the books but they will also tell you that there are still problems with unlicensed individuals putting themselves forward as roofing contractors. There are stiff penalties (some criminal) for licensed roofing contractors that can include loss of the license and right to roof in Florida.

Unlicensed individuals are not subject to the same penalties. Even though they can face civil fines and penalties, they will not lose a license they do not possess in the first place. Licensing roofing contractors in Georgia should begin the process of making the industry better but it will not cure all the ills in and of itself.

The problem with licensing, even with stringent requirements and continuing education, is that it only proves what an individual or firm can do. It does not guarantee or prove what they will do. But consumers who find themselves in need of roofing work, especially following a disaster, should be entitled to some protection under civil laws.

The problem with licensing laws and codes is enforcement. I would not give you two cents for a licensing law in Georgia unless it includes a mandate for enforcement at the local level. What good is it to set up another government bureaucracy with taxes for legitimate contractors while cheaters do not pay for licenses or permits?

The problem is made worse when consumers allow greed to creep into the equation. Roofing contractors A and B quoting a low five-figure amount for a reroof make contractor C sound pretty good with his medium four-figure price. Never mind that contractor C wants half the money up front. Yeah, right: This guy is going to do you a great job for half price, while those other guys are just out to rip you off.

Legitimate roofing contractors should teach consumers and encourage them to thoroughly and completely investigate the background of any contractor before signing anything and particularly before parting with any money. Show them how to do it; don’t just tell them to do it. Even if you do not win the work, legitimate contractors simply must work to protect the consumer as the only real way of protecting their own reputation as a contractor and the roof-contracting industry as a whole.

So while there is no panacea for protecting consumers I do think this was some pretty good reporting and on balance did a good service for the good folks of Metro Atlanta. And in spite of the challenges I do support the RASMCA of Georgia and their ongoing efforts seeking licensing for roofing contractors in the state. It cannot hurt and I do feel that hard working, legitimate roofing contractors deserve the recognition and a way to set themselves apart as roofing specialists.

Here are links to the reports, which ran on consecutive nights in May.

Part 1 www.myfoxatlanta.com/dpp/news/I_Team_Roofing_Ripoffs_051109

Part 2 - www.myfoxatlanta.com/dpp/news/I_Team_Roofing_Ripoffs_051209