DALLAS (CBS 11 NEWS) – To professionally cut hair in the state of Texas, you have to have a license. If you want to paint nails for a living, you too need a license. But if you install or repairs roofs, Texas requires nothing.
“You and I today could go out and start a roofing company,” said Karen Vermaire Fox, president of the North Texas Roofing Contractors Association (NTRCA).
Homeowner Zel Graham was unaware roofing contractors didn’t need a license when he paid Eddies Roofing $5,100 to repair his wind-damaged roof in Allen. Graham said he was told his roof would be fixed in two days. That was more than a year ago, and the company still hasn’t done any work.
Donald McMillion also hired Eddies Roofing. He gave the company’s owner, Eddie Martinez, $4,000 up front. “I thought I could trust the guy,” said McMillion, of McKinney. He hasn’t seen or heard from him since.
Officials with the Dallas Better Business Bureau say during the severe storm season the office is flooded with complaints about roofing contractors.
Jason Curtis of Garland hired a different roofing contractor, Platinum General Contracting. Heath Martinez was in charge of the job. According to his business card, Martinez is the president of the company.
Martinez started the job, but when a dispute over payment arose, Curtis said he was left with a shingle-less and leaking roof. Curtis paid Platinum General Contracting $56,000.
An attorney for Platinum General Contracting said his client was worried the company would not be paid the remaining $13,000 balance. After the CBS 11 I-Team called, Platinum General Contracting offered to go to arbitration to settle their differences.
“You buy a house and you want to keep it up,” said Curtis. “Then, to just have a possible disastrous (situation) with leaks, is scary.”
Heath Martinez has a history of walking away from jobs. Records show Martinez has been convicted of felony theft 10 times — many of those for taking money for work he never did.
State Representative Kenneth Sheets of Dallas said, “There is a lot of room for fraud within the current system for roofers in the state of Texas.”
Sheets authored a bill that would require roofing contractors to be licensed by the State of Texas. It failed. He then wrote another bill that would have created a voluntary registration for roofing contractors. That too failed.
Twenty-four other states require roofing contractors to be licensed, and four additional states require some sort of registration with the government.
“Right now there’s a movement in Texas, and I support the movement, to reduce licensing,” Sheets said. “Unfortunately, we are caught up in the middle of that wave and it makes it more difficult to pass legislation to protect consumers right now.”
While state lawmakers have been reluctant to pass regulations on the industry, the area’s largest association of roofing contractors supports it.
“We’ve lobbied the state legislature for the past three session and they don’t appear interested in creating any type of licensing or registration for roofing contractors,” said NTRCA president Fox.
Many roofing contractors say requiring a license would protect honest contractors as much as it would homeowners.
Sheets said he’ll try to pass the voluntary registration again.
The NTRCA advises that, before hiring a contractor, all homeowners check to see if the contractor has insurance. The local association also suggests homeowners check both customer and credit references.
And while partial payment upfront for supplies is not unusual, the NTRCA as well as the Better Business Bureau says it should be a red flag if a contractor asks for all the money upfront.
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