Roofers Grappling with Unpaid Bills from 2011 Storm Season

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The spring storm season is right around the corner but some roofing companies say they're still struggling to recover from last spring's nasty storms.

They did a lot of business, but because of the economic and housing crisis, contractors are facing a lot of unpaid bills.

After the big storm last year, on Sunday April 4th, roofing companies say their phones were ringing off the hook Monday morning. Kevin Pratt with Century Roofing says they were so busy, they couldn't keep up.

But now 10 months later, he's still waiting to get paid.

"Because of the economy the way it is a lot of people are struggling," Pratt says. Struggling homeowners got checks from their insurance for $20, 40, even $80,000.

"It's awful hard for those people to take it and sit on it when they have all these other expenses coming in that they're having trouble meeting," Pratt says.

Another problem is homeowners who are underwater, facing foreclosure or even just behind on their house payments, the mortgage company has the right to withhold the insurance money. "Through an attorney you can at least get some of the money if not all of it," Pratt says, "but it drags it out another 6 months or so to get our money."

Pratt says in the past you could always expect about one-percent of people just not paying, but now it's more like 5 or 6-percent. Other roofers agree that it's a problem, and one roofer said a third of his customers from that storm never paid. "In the meantime, we've got employees to pay and suppliers to pay and the attorneys to pay," Pratt says.

Pratt wants to spread the word to people in a tough financial situation, don't lie, don't make excuses, don't avoid phone calls. He says roofers are people too and will understand and work with you if you're in a tough situation.

"If life happens and you have a problem just be honest about it," he says.

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