There is always the temptation to have maintenance work performed by ‘casual labor’ or other un-licensed people. Take a few minutes to review the information found on the Arizona Registrar of Contractors website (roc.az.gov) and you may save yourself a lot of headaches down the road.

Most investors know that anyone who performs work costing over $1,000 must be licensed by the Registrar of Contractors. And most also know that regulations specifically prohibit the concept of hiring several small jobs under $1,000 to get around the law. But you may not be aware that the standard insurance policy requires that all previous work completed on your property must be equal to or better than the quality of work done by a licensed contractor. The insurance company does not require that you hire a licensed contractor, but the quality of the work itself must be as good or better than a contractor or experienced, skilled trades person.

Stated another way, you cannot build an add-on with shoddy methods and inferior workmanship and materials, and then, after an insurance claim, expect your insurance company to make repairs using top quality trades people and material.

Here’s an actual example: An investor bought a single-family house to use as a rental. He paid a lower price because the roof was old and required immediate replacement. The new owner obtained several bids from licensed roofing companies, but when he was contacted by an un-licensed ‘roofer’ who offered to do the job for almost half of the other quotes, the temptation was too great, and the owner hired the un-licensed ‘roofer.’

The roof lasted 5 years with no problems, but then an August “Monsoon storm” ripped away several large portions of the roof. When the insurance adjuster inspected the damage, she found multiple problems with the quality of workmanship of the 5-year-old roof.

While we may never give it a thought, the fact is that roof shingles represent a complex ‘puzzle’ of pieces and parts that are inter-connected and rely on one another to form a strong barrier against wind and rain. Professional installation by people who are skilled roofers is a key to a leakproof roof that lasts for many, many years (even in Arizona).

The insurance claims inspector found that the rows of shingles were not straight, that the overlap of each 3-tab shingle varied widely across the roof, and that the installer had used fewer than the correct number of staples/nails prescribed by the manufacturer. To make matters worse, the un-licensed roofer had installed the ‘underlayment’ (read that as “tar paper”) with no overlap whatsoever. Yes…the tar paper was installed edge-to-edge with no overlap at all. (No wonder the roof leaked.)

Virtually all insurance companies have a clause requiring that pre-existing construction be of good quality. In the roof example above, the insurance company paid zero for the roof repairs because the quality that was there before the claim, was un-acceptable.

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by CLARK SANCHEZ , an Arizona insurance agent for over 41 years. Also a Vendor-Affiliate with AZREIA for over 19 years. You can contact Clark if you have any insurance related questions at rental@ clarksanchez.com or (602) 803-2179