The Cincinnati Enquirer | 30 September
Roofers see business go through
- Call the Better Business Bureau, 513-421-3015
in Cincinnati or 859-282-8231 in Northern Kentucky, to check how long the
company has been in business and how responsive it has been
- Ask to see the contractor's workers'
compensation certificate to be sure it is insured against injury claims.
- Do not pay for all the work in advance – a 30 percent downpayment
is typical, says the bureau – and don't pay cash. Pay by
check or credit card.
- Be wary of door-to-door solicitations and make sure you
know the name, address and phone number of the contractor.
- Heed this advice from one roofer: "If
it sounds too good to be true, it probably is."
Blue is suddenly de rigueur on Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky rooftops.
And the hottest phone number in town is the cell number of a good roofer.
Drive down almost any residential street and those blue tarps protecting
damaged roofs seem to be almost everywhere. The near hurricane-force
winds of Sept. 14 caused unprecedented roof damage to homes and businesses,
triggering an equally staggering demand for roofers and roofing materials.
"It's ovelwhelming," said Dave Molloy, 47, fourth-generation
owner of Molloy Roofing Co. in Blue Ash. Molloy has been so swamped
with calls – 140 in the first hour the Monday after the windstorm –
that he's limiting work to previous customers.
Likewise, Tony Singler, 64, owner of TS Roofing & Sheet Metal
Inc. in Cheviot has heen in the roofing business for more than half
a century and he's never seen anything like it. "It's a jungle
out there," he said.
Molloy said the standard wind warranty on flat asphalt shingles is
for winds up to about 55 miles per hour, although heavier dimensional
shingles are designed to withstand stronger winds. At their peak, gusts
from the remnants of Hurricnne Ike topped out at 84 mph in Cincinnati,
Category 1 force, according to the National Weather Service.
It's not just the number of calls for roof repairs but how widespread
they are, say experts. The winds knocked out electricity to more than
2 million people from Louisville to Cleveland.
Don McNeil, president of Apex Restoration, a Madisonville firm that
specializes in damage repair and restoration for insurance companies,
said, "I've been in this business for 15 years and never seen
as much damage this widespread. We're calling it a dry hurricane."
"We've gotten calls from as far away as Akron and Lexington," said
Singler, who is the past president of the Tri-State Roofers Association,
a group of about 45 local roofing contractors and suppliers trying
to enforce standards.
Steve Wells, who owns Overhead Roofing Inc., said he's hired temporary
help jus to keep up with the calls for estimates and repairs. "Our
voice mail system can handle about 60 calls, and every morning it's
full," he said.
This time of year, Overhead probably would normally get 20 calls on
a busy day. But since the storm, Wells said, "We're talking to
150 to 200 people a day, and that doesn't include the people going
to voice mail or who just hang up because they can't get through."
It's not just roofs
While roof damage is the most widespread, repair specialists are seeing
other types of damage as well. Apex, which also has offices in Columbus,
Springfield and Dayton, normally gets about 40 to 50 calls a week.
Since the storm, McNeil said, the firm has gotten more than 600. "We're
also seeing trees into houses, fences blown down, pool liners ripped,
screened porches and pergolas blown away, an assortment of wind damage," he
said. "We had one house with four trees on it, the smallest of
which was 80 feet."
Apex, which frequently acts as the "eyes and ears" for insurance
companies, tends to get the most severe damage cases, said McNeil.
He estimated the avernge claim his company is seeing ranges from $8,500
"The blessing here is that it hasn't rained," said Molloy,
giving roofers the chance to cover roofs with tarps or roofing paper
to protect the damaged areas from water until they can come back and
make permanent repairs. In most cases, roofers say, they're practicing
repair triage, taking care of the most severe cases, where bare wood
is exposed, first.
"If it's just a few shingles missing, it shouldn't be a problem
in the short run," said Molloy. "What we do when we get a
call is go out and make the roof weather-tight," said Singler. "We
tell people if they find somebody to make the permanent repair before
we can get back, go ahead. We just ask that they give us the tarp back."
Price up along with demand
The price of asphalt shingles, made from the sludge left after oil
is removed for refining, were skyrocketing even before the windstorn.
"We've seen unprecedented price increases," said Wells.
Price increases that used to come a couple times a year are now coming
twice a month, reflecting the cost of not only of shingles, but transportation.
Demand for shingles is so great roofers say, that some colors and
styles are in short supply. But Mueller Roofing, one of the area's
largest shingle disbibutors, said it has been able to keep up with
"We have five locations, so we have a pretty good supply," said
Scott Fritsch, Mueller's director of sales.
Door open to scammers
The record demand for roofing repairs is creating opportunity for
scam artists, roofers warn.
"There's alot of transients in this business,' said Singler,
who advises homeowners to check out any contractor with the Better
Singler said he hasn't raised his labor rate of $30 an hour, but has
heard some are charging as much as $100 an hour. A lot of homeowners
think the storm is a windfall for roofers, but Wells said that's not
"I hate to see this," said Wells. Not only is he working
much longer days, writing estimates until 11 p.m. at night, but ifs
likely to mean a slowdown in the future.
Most asphalt roofs are replaced every 20 or 30 years, but the storm
will trigger many replacements before that normal cycle.
"I was on a roof today making adamage estimate," he said,
The shingles "didn't need replacing for six or seven years, but
replacing the roof now will mean it is lost to the market six or seven
years from now.
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