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Officials: Residents Must be 'Safe and Savvy' When Hiring Roof Contractors

Officials issue multiple advisories urging snow removal but also advise consumers to be vigilant when hiring contractors.

As news reports continue to warn people to remove snow and ice from roofs and gutters, the opportunity for people to make a buck shoveling on top of neighborhood homes becomes even greater.

Local and state officials want to make sure people are cognisant of who they hire and to take all necessary precautions to protect themselves and their wallets.

"You hire the neighborhood kid to do the roof and they fall and get hurt, guess whose responsibility it is?" Oxford Resident Trooper Sgt. Dan Semosky asked rhetorically. "You need to take all necessary precautions not only to be safe, but to make sure you don't get scammed."

Gov. Dannel Malloy issued a news release Sunday advising homeowners to be "safe and savvy" when dealing with contractors. And Consumer Protection Commissioner Jerry Farrell, Jr. said in the release that homeowners should seek a price from more than one and insist on written contracts.

“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," Farrell stated in the release. "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. You don’t want the price to start fluctuating once the contractor is on the roof.”

State officials also pledged to investigate and pursue reports of price gouging involving Connecticut contractors.

“The sky is not the limit on the price that can be charged for roof snow removal," Farrell 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.”

Homeowners also are urged to hire contractors who are licensed and carry insurance, particularly because there have been instances of people falling off of roofs while removing snow. Anyone removing snow from a roof also should be careful of above-ground wiring and keep tools away from power lines.

In addition to concerns about roof loads, residents have begun seeing instances of water seeping inside. The snow on roofs has started to melt but with ice dams blocking its exits to gutters, interior water damage becomes a big concern.

“That water has nowhere to go..." said Danbury-based general contractor Matthew Terhaar. "...it can’t escape.”

The Department of Consumer Protection offers a toll-free hotline available during weekday business hours: 800-842-2649.

Patch also has compiled a partial list taken from files at the building department of contractors who have done re-roofing work in town. These contractors are licensed and carry insurance.

Some are roofing specialists and others are general contractors. This list by no means comprehensive. Patch has compiled this list for the convenience of readers, and does not endorse the services of these contractors, or the contractors themselves.

Fred Hydar, Newtown, 203-266-4670

DiGiorgi Roofing, Beacon Falls, 203-723-6880

Stephen DeMarco, Newtown, 203-948-7066

Derrick Davelaav, Oxford, 203-888-8880

Terhaar Builders, Danbury, 203-948-4478

Editor's note: A news release from the state Insurance Department on what policyholders should know about winter damage to homes and cars has been attached as a pdf file to this article. It can be found in the section directly below the photos for this article.

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