Press-Republican

February 15, 2013

Property owners urged to clear roofs

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Press-Republican

---- — MARLBOROUGH, Mass. — Snow piled up on rooftops can cause damage and even collapse.

The Better Business Bureau advises consumers to follow these tips:

Identify high-risk areas: Any type of large, flat roof or roofs with previous damage could be high-risk areas due to heavy snow accumulation. Also, any area shaded from direct sunlight could cause freezing on top of snowdrifts.

Preventive maintenance: Homeowners can potentially ward off a roof collapse from heavy snow or ice buildup by replacing decrepit areas of roof and doing routine maintenance before winter.

Keep it clear: It is important to keep gutters and drains clear of debris. A blocked gutter will trap snow and ice, which can cause cracks and damage. Trim back low-hanging trees that could cause damage to electrical wires in high winds.

2013 SNOWSTORMS

While Winter Storm Nemo didn’t dump as much snow on the North Country as it did in New England, roof issues do arise in the region.

And when a roofing contractor is needed, the Business Bureau said, consumers should not make quick decisions.

“Excessive snow removal should be completed by experienced contractors with proper insurance covering both its services and employees,” Paula Fleming, vice president of communications and marketing, said in a news release.

In 2012, roofing contractors were the third most inquired about type of business, with 57,932 inquiries to the Better Business Bureau. General contractors were listed in the top five, with 50,517 inquiries.

HIRING TIPS

The Better Business Bureau recommends consumers to follow these tips when hiring a roofing contractor:

Do research: Although you may be anxious to get things back to normal, don’t get pressured into making an immediate decision with a long-term impact. In the aftermath of a storm, fly-by-night contractors will offer their services or leftover materials from a recent job. Be wary of contractors soliciting, and check out the business reviews at bbb.org before hiring.

Shop around: For major repairs, take time to get multiple estimates based on the same specifications and materials. Ask for references, and verify that the contractor is licensed and insured. Legitimate contractors should have liability insurance and workers compensation. Without insurance, if a worker is injured on the job, the homeowner may be liable.

Get everything in writing: Require a written contract with anyone you hire. Be sure their name, address, phone number and license number are included. Read and understand the contract in its entirety, and never sign a blank contract. Make sure the contract includes a detailed list of labor, materials and services to be completed.

For more information, go to bbb.org.