Jury awards Florida woman $48M - For a roof leak!
Henry Staggs, RRO
May 4th, 2021
As a consultant, you can imagine the number of calls I get that go something like this "I hired this roofer and he put on a roof, but it's leaking and he won't fix it." As the story unfolds it usually something like this.
- The roofer was called out for a proposal
- The owner chooses the lowest bidder, based on numbers alone
- That contractor often is not licensed, bonded, or insurance
- If they are licensed and bonded, they are missing or lack enough general liablity insurance coverage (that's what protect the owner from the roofer)
- The roofer does what they know how to do, which often is not what they should do.
- A year or two later the roof is leaking
- The owners call the roofer
- Who probably didn't make any money on the project to start with
- The roofer says "that's a warranty issue"
- Some might come out to look, but not always.
- The roofer ends up charging for a repair or just walking away entirely.
Sound familiar to anyone?
Is it a warranty issue or a workmanship issue?
The first job of the roofer, other than not falling off, is to install a leak-free roof. PERIOD! If the roof is leaking, that very first obligation has been violated and the roofer is on the hook for deficient workmanship. Why? Because the cause of most leaks is a defective installation in the first place. That it took a year to find is not relevant, even if it takes five years to find, so what? The leak was still the result of poor or negligent installation.
Is it a warranty? Well, I guess you can say that ... but it's really not. A poor job is not warrantable by any manufacturer. And the contractor ends up trying to charge service and repair fees for a mistake THEY MADE. I see this problem constantly in the residential market and a little in the commercial. But to be fair, it's the same contractors on both doing it.
That is one of the outs for roofers who won't take a closer look at their own workmanship. It was sideways rain, or the wind was heavy, or whatever other wild natural event that seems to plague the same roofing contractors. But not others? Hmmm .... interesting how that works. Some contractors ALWAYS chase down leaks after a good rain. Others do not, and I am proud to say I was among the "others" when I was roofing. Which is why I know BS when I smell it. Sorry but if the roof was installed correctly, it would not have leaked. In my years as a roofer, and after thousands of roof installs. I can count the number of leaks on one hand. So it's a tough sale for me when a roofer tries to convince me it's not his work. It's the wind or the rain, or whatever.
So they insist that it was the weather and not their work? Ok, let's go talk to the neighbors and see if this storm affects them as well. Or perhaps it was localized over only the roofs a particular roofer installed?
Roof Ventilation matters
In this article, a woman was awarded $48,000,000.00 because a roofer did a poor job, and she was made ill as a result. This article stood out to me for a few reasons. To start with, that award is really high and it tells me this jury means to send a message. Secondly, I have asthma and know first hand what it is like to have a respiratory problem. Which can be seriously impacted by molds and pollens in the air. And because when I design a roof, even before I was a consultant. I talk about ventilation a lot. One of the things I press on is the health of it all. That a well-ventilated roof makes a healthy home, whereas a poorly ventilated roof makes for a sick home.
Absolutely the design of your roof matters, but if the roofer can't get it right, it won't matter how well your roof is designed.
It will only get worse
The roofing industry in line for a very rude awakening. There are already a number of roofing professionals and contractors who see the writing on the way. We know change is coming, we can see it like a heard of angry owners running over the horrizon. I have been saying for years, that a roofer who installs a bad roof can literally make someone sick. That is what happened, and is what is happening all over the nation.
But sadly not enough contractors are waking up to the reality that is slapping us in the face. Not fast enough anyway, but as these kinds of cases become more commonplace. As roofers are being sued out of existence, our labor pool dies off and dwindles away. More roofing contractors will wake up and start making the necessary changes. Or they won't be in business anymore.
Oh and the article does point out that the roof defaulted on the lawsuit.
We can do better and we will do better
Henry Staggs, RRO