Undercover home improvement investigation

February 27, 2012 8:55:37 PM PST
You've probably received alerts at your home that state "there has been a storm in your area and there's a good chance your home has siding or roof damage."

Joyce Bixby got two at her home!

"Yeah, I was a little concerned," she said.

The contractors aoffer a new roof and siding at absolutely no cost to you because insurance companies will pay.

Roofing expert Kevin Goblirsch.Goblirsch was recommended to Action News by Angie's List, which receives thousands of unbiased reports about service companies.

He took a look at Joyce's roof.

We asked, "You don't think it would be right to have an insurance company pay to have this roof repaired or replaced?"

"No, not at all," said Goblirsch.

After we got the expert seal of approval, we asked Joyce to call two companies that appeared to be doing a lot of business in her neighborhood.

She first called Menta Construction Inc. A worker from Menta went on Joyce's roof to inspect for damage. He told her it looked good and she doesn't have damage to warrant an insurance claim.

Then Joyce called Joe Miller Construction. Again, the worker went on Joyce's roof but he had a different recommendation.

"[He said to] call my insurance company and file a claim and he thinks about $6500 worth of damage," Bixby said.

We asked Miller's worker about his recommendation:

"We've actually called two other contractors out here and they told her she has no damage. So how do you explain the discrepancy here?"

"I actually have pictures," he said.

The worker for Joe Miller construction showed us pictures he took on the roof.

And Joe Miller himself met us and pointed out what he said is clearly hail damage.

"What it does is it knocks the granules off the roof and shortens the life of the roof," he explained.

We asked Miller, "So you stand by your company's recommendation?"

Miller responded, "Absolutely."

"Do you always recommend repair or replacement," we asked.

"No, no," he said.

Miller showed us more than 600 addresses for which he said his company did not recommend repair from 2009 to the present. And Joe Miller Construction isn't the only company that told Joyce she needed a new roof.

Prior to our test, Joyce said WB Griffies was soliciting in the neighborhood and told her she should get a $7,000 roof. And the worker didn't even go up to inspect.

"He pointed and said 'see that line above that window? And the line over there? You're missing shingles over here. You're missing some over here. Your shingles are curled up from where the hail hit them; you have damage all over that roof'", Bixby recalled.

WB Griffies provides a step-by-step guide to submitting a hail or wind claim, claiming its expertise is in "quickly and efficiently negotiating with insurers so you don't have to."

"This is a tactic I don't agree with," said Angie's List co-founder Angie Hicks. "And keep in mind, as a consumer if you have work done, it'll potentially impact what your premiums look like on your insurance."

Also always get multiple estimates.

"Go to companies you've researched on your own that aren't soliciting you," Hicks said.

We talked to WB Griffies' attorney. He said company sales people are not allowed to go up on the roof because insurance companies don't want them on the roof. He also said WB Griffies does not stand by its recommendation that her roof has storm damage and the company is concerned that the employee who looked at Joyce's roof needs more training.

WB Griffies plans to articulate more clearly to the worker what he should and should not be saying.

The attorney also said the language on the company flyer will be modified and he will personally review its step by step guide.

For more tips and information: http://www.angieslist.com/articles/13-guidelines-hire-best-contractors.htm