The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

Local and State News

March 20, 2013

Bill aimed at protecting state from roofing ‘vultures’

ENID, Okla. — Two local roofing contractors think a legislator’s idea to require roofing contractors to buy a $30,000 bond might have good intentions, but ultimately would not accomplish much.

Republican Rep. Mark McBride’s bill, approved Wednesday by the House Economic Development and Financial Services Committee, is aimed at protecting state residents from what McBride, of Moore, calls subpar roofing “vultures” that come into the state after severe weather.

Under current law, roofers must have insurance and workers’ compensation to get a license, and can be fined $500 without one. McBride’s bill would add the bond to that list of requirements. A request for comment from the state’s Construction Industries Board, which oversees license applications, was not immediately returned Wednesday.

Ben Shepherd, who owns CDR Homes in Enid, has been in business 11 years — a year and a half of that time in Enid. He is nearly never asked by homeowners if he is licensed or bonded, Shepherd said.

“What’s going to stop the consumer from buying from someone else because they’re getting the job done cheaper?” Shepherd asked. “Eight out of 10 never ask, ‘Are you bonded or licensed?’”

Shepherd wondered how such a requirement could be enforced.

“In my opinion, you got a good idea, but you’ve got no way to enforce it,” Shepherd said.

After a major storm, roofers come from outside the state anyway, because there simply are not enough local roofers to do all the needed work, Shepherd said.

“In a crisis you know the local guy can’t get there, and you’re going to call whoever you can get there,” Shepherd said.

He said public awareness campaigns geared to educate homeowners to ask if roofers are bonded will make only a temporary impression on the public.

“You know as well as I do that commercial can run for a month and you forget it six months from now,” Shepherd said.

Homer Reddick, owner of Reddick Roofing, has been in the roofing business 50 years, 40 of them in the Enid area. He said state law requires roofers to be licensed, but Oklahoma doesn’t yet have a method to enforce that one.

“I called and asked how they’re going to enforce it, and they said they didn’t yet know,” Reddick said. “I think if they could figure out how to enforce that, that would be good.”

Reddick likes another idea better.

“In the state of Florida, you have to get a permit, and if the homeowner wants an inspection they have to pay for it,” Reddick said.

Not only is that a better way, but the city makes some money on the requirement, Reddick said.

McBride estimated it would cost roofers about $250 a year. McBride also owns a roofing business, but he said he would have to get the bond just as any other roofer would if his bill passes.

McBride added he personally knew several roofers throughout the state, and they wouldn’t complain about this additional cost.

“I don’t know one of them that would be against this,” McBride said. “All of us want stiffer regulations for the roofing industry.”

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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