BOSSIER CITY, La. -- The bad roofer patrol has hit the streets of Bossier City, looking for contractors who don't have their paperwork.
After last month's big hailstorm that pounded the northern part of the city, officials say fly-by-night contractors have swarmed the area. So city inspectors are busy making sure roofers have permits and state licenses before they hammer one more nail.
"I think yesterday we fined over five contractors that were doing work without permits," said Rodney Taylor, Bossier City Director of Permits.
Taylor says "numerous" violations have been found daily since the storm, including on weekends.
"If a contractor is caught in the act of doing work without a permit, a cease and desist order is issued. That more or less tells them to stop, get off the job, and get their permit," Taylor said.
The homeowner isn't left completely in a lurch.
"Before (the roofers) leave we will make sure that they can get the roof water tight, or get the home where it won't sustain any damage," Taylor said.
If the roofer doesn't have a permit, they have to pay a double permit fee and a $500 fine. If it turns out they're not licensed either, then they also face a criminal citation, including arrest.
Taylor said homeowners should ask to see the permit -- or proof of a permit -- before the job starts. Securing a permit means the contractor is insured.
He said this is all to protect homeowners.
"It ensures that we're not going to have unlicensed contractors doing it. We make sure we do an inspection after their roof is installed to make sure that it is done according to code. And make sure it meets the local standards. And it ensures that the homeowner is getting what they paid for," Taylor explained.
He said shady contractors often swarm areas after a natural disaster, and prey on homeowners.
"Some of the contractors may dupe them into paying for their services. The other thing (homeowners) may do is just want to try to save some money, which could cause them problems in the long run," Taylor said.
Under Louisiana law, every municipality must have a permitting process.
Taylor also advises homeowners to get at least three estimates before hiring a contractor, "to make sure they're getting the right bang for their bucks."
Hail as big as baseballs battered a wide area of northern Bossier City, as well as Benton and Haughton on April 24.