Archive for February, 2010

Top Ten Warning Signs of a Bad Contractor

Friday, February 12th, 2010

Almost every homeowner or business owner I meet has a story to tell about dealing with shady contractors. There are murky characters in every business, but it seems that contractors, especially home contractors, have a higher population of underhanded dealers. Here are some warning signs to look for in detecting a fraudulent character.

1. The contractor wants money up front, before beginning the project. Unless this person is your most trusted friend, there is never a good reason to give a contractor money before he or she begins the project.

2. He can’t answer your questions in a direct manner, or does not have a command of the language of his trade. This indicates the contractor either has no intent on following through on the job or does not posses the ability to do it.

3. The contractor does not return phone calls on a timely basis.

4. The contractor wants an answer right now; the pricing is good for only for a very short time.

5. He is not knowledgeable about building code requirements

6. The contractor cannot provide references for a job similar to yours.

7. The contractor has no physical address, no website, nor is a member of his professional organization

8. He talks more than he listens to you.

9. He does not provide you with a printed, legible, detailed proposal with a warranty.

10. You catch him in a lie. Rule of thumb: One lie and you’re out.

Prepare Your Roof for Spring Rains

Friday, February 12th, 2010

When I am called to look at a roof, it’s almost always because there is a problem, usually a leak. It’s just the nature of my business; property owners don’t know a problem exists with their roofs until they leaks.

There are, however, some proactive things we can to do ensure against spring rain surprises. A simple inspection can reveal potential problems and leak opportunities. Here are some things I look for to make sure a roof is watertight:

–Plumbing stack flashings (rubber or lead boots that fit around pipes that penetrate the roof) should be properly flashed beneath the shingles. I look for cracks in rubber fittings, and leaded boots that are improperly cut around the pipe.

–I check for missing shingles, and shingles that may be loose due to loss of adhesion.

–Chimneys are a frequent source for roof leaks. Bar flashing on the back of the chimney should extend at least 18″ upslope, and step flashing on the sides of the chimney should be overlapped by 2″ or more. Trim boards at the corners of a wooden chimney chase can separate over the years, leaving gaps and voids for water entry.

–Valleys are also frequent sources for leaks. Properly installed valleys are overlapped by shingles 12″ on either side. Debris, such as tree limbs and leaves, can deteriorate shingles and hold water like a sponge. Valleys which collect debris should be swept out two to three times a year.

–Other areas vulnerable to leaks include any roof penetration such as attic vents, hot water vents, and furnace vents. All penetrations should be properly sealed and properly seated beneath the roofing shingles.

–Flat roofs pose special problems. If the roof has little or no pitch, water can pond and stay wet for many days, causing surface deterioration. This problem can be solved or mitigated by adding pitch, or putting down a proper coating to help withstand ponding water. Internal drains may be another solution for problematic flat roofs.

If you would like to make sure your roof is up to the task for the coming wet season, an Alltex specialist can give you a free evaluation. Call 972/740-8602 or email