HOUSTON – When you need a new roof, finding and hiring a contractor can be challenging. That's because there is no licensing or certification program in Texas that can help you verify a business' or contractor's credentials.
"We just need to have something," said attorney Steven Badger, with Zelle LLP. "Because what we have right now is nothing. And the big storm comes into Houston, and two Chucks in a truck from Louisiana can come on over, call themselves Acme Roofing, take people's insurance checks and go back to Louisiana."
Texas lawmakers are considering a bill now that would require all re-roofing contractors in Texas to register with the state. Consumers could then search a database to find a registered roofer.
"It will only allow registered re-roofing contractors to pull roofing permits. So in order to go get a permit, you're gonna have to show the local municipality that you're registered," Badger, who is lobbying to get the bill passed, explained.
When contractors register with the state, they will be agreeing to a code of ethics and standard contract requirements, like providing consumers with their cancellation policy and a deadline always letting them know when they will begin the work. Contractors who violate any of these can be fined and have their licensed revoked. None of that will guarantee you get your money back if a roofer walks off the job, but it could help you if you have to sue in small claims court.
"Is it perfect?" Badger asked. "No, but it's more than we have now, which is nothing."
Registering with the state would cost the contractors $250 every two years. We will follow the bill through the Legislature and let you know if it passes.