Woman waits more than a year to get roof fixed, FOX31 investigators step in

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DENVER —  It is like clockwork. First comes the rain, then the hail and then the roofers appear who want to fix the damage caused by the storms. Roofers have the most complaints of any industry in Colorado. And while many are good, there are some bad apples.

90-year-old Clara Clark waited for more than a year to have her roof fixed. “I can’t relax, since they said they’d do the roof.” The great-grandmother has lived in her Denver home since the 1950’s. Clara and her husband hired Stefano Biernacki, owner of Stefo Inc., in March 2013.

“My husband wanted it done so bad,” Clara said.  She and her husband, Kenny, paid Biernacki $5,000 according to copies of cashed checks provided to FOX31 Denver.

Clara said after Biernacki cashed the checks he failed to do the work on the roof, disappearing for more than a year.  “He promised a lot of things and didn’t do it.” Her Grandson, who helped find the roofer, said they pleaded with Biernacki to get the job done, but only got excuses.

To make things worse, Clara’s homeowner’s insurance cancelled the policy on her home because it deemed the roof a “hazard.”

FOX31 Denver went undercover for two months trying to figure out why Biernacki refused to do the work on Clark’s house. A producer sat with the family this past March as he admitted he made mistakes on this job. But he refused to get a building permit, required by the city of Denver, because he said it would cost more.

Under the law, Biernacki needed to be licensed with the city of Denver and should have pulled a permit for the work he was about to do. It wasn’t until after FOX31 Denver began asking questions and the work on he roof was completed that a permit was pulled.

Biernacki told FOX31 Denver, “I apologize to Ms. Clark. I still assume that fault.”

The Better Business Bureau of Denver offered these tips when hiring a roofer.

  • Check with the BBB. Get three estimates before making a decision and don’t be pushed into signing a contract right away. Contact the BBB and use our free Request-A-Quote service to get bids from BBB Accredited roofers at findacompany.org. Check out any roofer you’re interested in at denver.bbb.org.
  • Be wise when making deposits. DO NOT pay for the entire job or make a large down payment up front and do not sign your insurance check over to the roofer. This can make it very difficult to get your money back should the company not show up or do a satisfactory job. Only make a direct, portioned down payment to a reputable, established company that has provided a clear work schedule to you in writing. Schedule payments according to the work schedule.
  • Know your rights.
    • According to the State of Colorado, a roofer cannot cash any payment until it has delivered materials to the home or has completed the majority of the work.
    • Roofers must provide the homeowner with a detailed written contract that includes details about the roofing company’s contact information, insurance, scope of work, dates of service and costs.
    • Also, homeowners have the right to cancel their contract within three business days, (this includes Saturdays).
  • Deal with your insurance company directly. Avoid letting a roofer file a claim on your behalf. This can cause problems in your relationship with your insurance company and can possibly lead to insurance fraud.
  • Read carefully anything you sign. Anything you sign—no matter what you are told—can be considered a binding contract.
  • Beware of companies that are not local. Discuss warranties and guarantees offered by out-of-state companies—question how the services will be honored.
  • Know who is responsible. Find out if the company uses their own workers or if they hire individual, third-party sub-contractors. It is very important to know exactly who will be working on your roof and who is responsible if something goes wrong.
  • Verify applicable permits with your city and county. Make sure the permit is posted before the work begins.

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