In this episode, Patrick tells a cautionary tale about a favor that went very wrong and ended up costing a homeowner his livelihood and his home.
Podcast Transcription: RoofLifeB023-179
Shayla: Thank you for joining us for the Roof Life of Oregon podcast. I’m talking with Patrick Morin. Patrick, tell us a little bit about homeowners that have landscapers out at their homes and the landscapers offer to go up on the roof and blow the debris off.
Patrick: Ya know, I have a concern and a lot of input for homeowners that have that dilemma. First of all, when you have you yard guy or your yard person, and you develop a relationship. They’re on the ground with you. They’re working in and among your home and yard and you get to be friends with them. There gets to be a relationship there that sometimes can come back to nip us in the derriere. And I have a client that told me last year. He says, “Patrick, you’ve got to tell everybody about this, because I had no idea that this could happen.” So this is what happened.
Lots of times in the fall, the leaves are falling on the roof, or even in June, the pollinizers fall on the roof and the landscapers are there blowing everything up and the valleys may be full of tree debris or the roof is a low enough pitch or a shallow enough pitch that they thought, well, if I just go up there and blow that off, then I can clean up the grounds and it won’t look messy after I leave, all in total service, kindness, generosity mode. Well, this client had a really nice house in the West Hills and he just loved his yard guy, he loved him. And the guy goes, “I’m going to go up there and blow that roof off and it will look beautiful and get the yard cleaned off,” and the guy goes, “Great! Sounds good.” Well, he didn’t realize, but that gave the landscaper permission to go up on his roof. So the landscaper got his ladder tripod ladder, and he sat it sideways to the gutter and got up on the roof, but when he got up to the top of the ladder, the ladder fell, and on the way down, he caught his leg in the rung, snapped his lower leg, landed on his head, broke his neck, broke his collar bone, and cracked three ribs. And the guy comes around the corner and the guy is just lying there and he calls his ambulance, they haul him to the hospital, the emergency room, and he doesn’t have worker’s comp, because he owns his own company, doesn’t have to carry it on himself. And the homeowner is just like, “Oh, man. I can’t believe it. I’m so sorry. What can I do to help?”
Well, about a month later, he gets this lawsuit papers that the family of this young landscaper who is having to pay all these bills is suing him. The guy took it to court saying, hey, I shouldn’t be liable for this, and he lost his house. He had a $980,000 home and he lost it in the lawsuit to pay for the medical bills. This guy can’t work anymore. He’s basically crippled and the family had no other choice. He wasn’t friends with the family. He was friends with the man, but the family ends up having to take care of him, so they’re going to come after the money. So the moral of the story is, you’ve got to be careful who you give permission to get up on your roof, because the fact is 90 to 95 percent of all roof accidents happen getting on and off the roof on a ladder. That’s where everybody falls.
So when you give permission, you haven’t got approval from your homeowner’s policy, so they’re not covering anything. He doesn’t have worker’s comp or insurance that will cover him on his side. So you are one hundred percent liable for anything that happens to people that you say, get up on roof that aren’t a licensed and bonded and insured contractor to get on your roof. Gutter people may not be insured to get on roofs or they may be, but you can check it out. Go to Oregon State Contractor’s Board. Anybody that’s serving you has a license number, by law. You can put in their license number, and you can go and see if they have worker’s comp on themselves and their employees, if they’re insured. You can also call your insurance company and say, “Hey, if I give my landscaper permission to go up on my roof, will you guys cover them?” And if they say “yes,” get it in writing. I need a rider attached to my policy that says if I give anybody permission to get on my roof, they’re covered. If you have that, then you’re protected. Anything short of that, you have exposed yourself to losing your home. So I really told this client of mine, I said, I’m going to tell everybody that I can to be super careful of what they decide to do as far as letting people on the roof, because it could be a big loss, a million dollar loss, as it was in this case.
Shayla: Wow, and this story initially started with a landscaper, but it really could be a roofer too. I mean, I’m sure there are some handymen, some roofers, some friends of friends that get up on roofs to try to fix roof problems, and this is the same chance you’re taking.
Patrick: You’re friends, you have a relationship, but it’s not that relationship that has the lawsuit idea. It’s the family of your friend that has to take care of your friend. I mean, you’re not going to open up your home and say, live here as a convalescent and we’ll care for you for the next thirty, forty years. You’re going to do that to your landscaper, but someone has to do that on his family’s side and they’re going to look to get that money out of your estate. So protect yourself. Don’t do that, as nice as he is, as nice of a gesture as it is, as nice as the roof and the home will look, don’t do it. Make sure you’re protected. Insurance is your only protection on this situation.
Shayla: And since we have time, Patrick, tell us a little bit about the steps that Roof Life takes to make sure you guys are protected and your team is protected.
Patrick: Well, you know whenever we have a house that’s over one story or the pitch is an eight, twelve, or above, we’re going to go up and set safety anchors under the ridge caps of the roofs. When our team gets there, they’ll put the ladder where they can get up to the ridge, and they usually go up a valley. That’s an inside corner. So they’ll go up a valley, get up to the ridge, and they will take off the ridge caps, put those straps down, anchor them into the rafters, and then put the ridge caps back. And now, they have these special hooks on the end of their ropes, and they clip on, and they’re able to work on the roof, and not have the potential of falling off.
All of our guys that work for us as employees are covered by worker’s comp, and we also have a general liability policy with an umbrella of two million dollars to protect your estate and your exposure as a client. So if you use Roof Life of Oregon, you don’t have any exposure. Everything is covered. We make sure our guys are trained, they have their safety gear, and if something does happen, we have the insurance to back it up. So no exposure on your part, as a client.
Shayla: Some really good information here from Patrick today. So if you need something done on your roof, please make sure that the person working for you is licensed and insured. If you have any questions about that, you can reach out to the team at Roof Life of Oregon. Thanks, Patrick.