Janesville29.2°

Homeowners hot about shoddy shingles

Print Print
Jason Smathers
June 22, 2010
— The extremes of Wisconsin weather are known to do some damage to roofs.

But residents who see their shingles curling or cracking might have the manufacturer to blame rather than wind and hail. What’s more, they might be entitled to compensation for their troubles.


That’s what Janesville resident Carol Peerenboom realized when she found trouble with her roof.


Peerenboom had shingles made by CertainTeed, one of the largest manufacturers of building materials in North America. When she noticed they were starting to fail, she asked CertainTeed to make good on her warranty.


The response was not to her liking.


After going through what she called a “byzantine claims process” and registering a complaint with the Wisconsin Bureau of Consumer Protection, CertainTeed offered Peerenboom a rebate of $2 per 100 square feet of shingles for a total of $68 plus a prorated refund of $882 based on the number of years left on the warranty.


The response from Peerenboom was exasperation.


“The major cost of roofing is in the labor, and so your offer in no way reflects the financial reality of replacing a roof due to no fault of my own nor of my contractor but due to the materials of your manufacture, which proved to be defective,” Peerenboom wrote to CertainTeed in March.


Peerenboom is far from alone. Since 2005, 120 Wisconsin residents have filed consumer protection complaints against CertainTeed. Six of those came from Rock County.


Those seeking a refund have sometimes found themselves stuck in the claims process for months. CertainTeed requested parties send photos of the shingles, close-ups of the damage, shots of the entire building from front and back and pictures of ventilation for the roof. In addition, they must send two damaged shingles in a special cardboard box, which requires a diagram with specific measurements to assemble.


Raube Penn of Beloit submitted all the materials. While CertainTeed confirmed the shingles were damaged, his claim was rejected.


The shingles were installed when the house was built in 1996. But because the original homeowners did not notify CertainTeed in writing that Penn purchased the house in 2002, his 25-year warranty was voided.


“We went through this Mickey Mouse business with CertainTeed with that whole thing—writing letters back and forth and back and forth,” Penn said. “It probably took about six to eight months.”


CertainTeed eventually offered Penn a rebate of $10 per 100 square feet of replacement shingles, but that required Penn to first reshingle his roof with new CertainTeed products.


It cost Penn about $8,500 to replace his roof. His rebate was $300.


“It was a merry-go-round,” Raube said. “I wasn’t happy with CertainTeed, but I don’t expect anything more.”


Penn and others like him still might be able to recoup some of their losses.


CertainTeed is close to finalizing a class action settlement in U.S. District Court in Pennsylvania regarding the defective shingles. Those eligible for reimbursement would be paid sums significantly larger than the original rebates and refunds CertainTeed offered.


For instance, Peerenboom could get more than $3,700 for the claim for which CertainTeed was willing to pay about $950.


CertainTeed still claims most of its shingles are defect-free and that they’re agreeing to the settlement to avoid legal costs and inconvenience.


The court will decide in July whether to move forward with the settlement. If there are no further appeals from objectors, the settlement would be approved in August.


SETTLEMENT DETAILS

If a class action settlement is approved in August, Wisconsin residents who own defective CertainTeed shingles would be eligible for compensation. However, figuring out if you’re eligible and what you’re entitled to involves a complicated set of criteria.


According to a CertainTeed website, consumers first must determine if they are eligible for the settlement. Eligible parties include those who owned a home with CertainTeed shingles as of Dec. 15, 2009, and can prove the shingles curled, cracked or blistered as a result of manufacturer defects before the warranty expired. The settlement only applies to organic asphalt shingles, not fiberglass shingles.


Eligible parties seeking compensation must then fill out a claims form. They can fill out an abbreviated claims form if they were offered or accepted a settlement from CertainTeed between Aug. 1, 2006, and the final class action settlement approval. Otherwise, they must fill out a standard form that requires a shingle sample and proof of ownership.


Depending on the circumstances, each claimant has between 90 days and 25 years to file their claim. The compensation also varies depending on ownership and warranty status.


Those who have already been offered a refund or rebate directly from CertainTeed should think twice before agreeing. Those who agreed to such reimbursement after Aug. 1, 2006, are entitled to only 20 percent of the difference between the class action settlement and CertainTeed’s direct settlement. Those who settled before that date are entitled to no compensation.


For more information on the status and details of the settlement, go to certainteedshinglesettlement.com/faq.cfm.

Print Print