Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has issued a warning that homeowners take some precautions when hiring a contractor to clear their roofs of snow and ice.
The warning comes on the heels of several reports of roofs collapsing, mainly on commercial buildings, but also including some homes and barns.
Gov. Malloy suggests residents
- contact the Department of Consumer Protection for information about contractors and
- get a written estimate for services.
There have been reports of some contractors asking for upwards of $2,000 for their services, which suggests they are taking advantage of homeowners’ fears and the high demand for these services.
“We are getting reports of possible price gouging by contractors offering roof snow removal. The best advice is, if possible, to get a price from more than one contractor, and always have the contractor put the price in writing,” Gov. Malloy said.
Consumer Protection Commissioner Jerry Farrell, Jr. echoed the governor’s advice.
“This isn’t a perfect situation – rooftops need to be cleared quickly – so a traditional contract between the homeowner and the contractor may not be possible. Even so, get out a sheet of paper and write out what the contractor has told you verbally he is going to do – ‘remove all snow and ice from rooftop for one hundred dollars’ for instance – and have the contractor sign the piece of paper,” Farrell urged.
“You don’t want the price to start fluctuating once the contractor is on the roof,” Farrell said.
Depending upon the nature of the roof, the homeowner should also specify in writing whether it is only the roof that is to be cleared, or whether ice needs to be removed from gutters as well.
Gov. Malloy said, “As we get more mixed precipitation and melting, those gutters have to be functioning or water could flow into homes and cause damage, so while workers are on the roof, this should be done as well.”
Farrell also cautioned Connecticut contractors that reports of price gouging will be investigated and pursued. “The sky is not the limit on the price that can be charged for roof snow removal,” he said.
“There has to be a reasonable basis between the size of the roof, the time involved in removing the snow, and a comparable ascertainable hourly rate – such as that for home improvement work – that would normally be charged for similar work under normal circumstances. Every situation will be different, but the test of whether price gouging occurred will be whether the contractor can justify the price using an objective standard.”
Gov. Malloy added that insurance coverage is another essential part of hiring a contractor.
“There have been instances of contractors falling off of roofs while doing snow removal – make sure your contractor is insured to do that work, before the work starts and someone gets hurt,” he said.
Another note of caution – anyone removing snow from a roof, whether homeowner or contractor, should be extremely careful of any kind of above-ground wiring and keep all tools away from power lines.
You can reach the Department of Consumer Protection hotline with this toll-free number weekdays during business hours: 1-800-842-2649.
Posted Feb. 7, 2011