Inside Self-Storage Magazine 12/98: Ask The Waldmans

December 1, 1998

4 Min Read
Inside Self-Storage Magazine 12/98: Ask The Waldmans


DEAR WALDMANS: I have been in the storage business for almost three years andthere have been many situations during this time that have left me quite baffled. Thislast one though, gave me a major headache. I had a roof leak in 15 of my units, four ofwhich were rented and had tenants' goods in them. After taking care of moving the tenantsto a nice high-and-dry unit, I knew I had a major problem with the roof.

Having never had any construction problems since I purchased the facility, finding aprofessional roofer that would do a good job was new to me. I opened up the phone book andfound several roofers that said they were bonded and licensed. I figured they had to becompetent since they had placed such a large ad in the Yellow Pages. After calling severalof the roofers listed, the one I picked told me that he had been in the business for morethan 20 years and indicated he could give me a good deal because he was doing another jobnear my facility. I made an appointment and met with him the next day. He told me I neededto replace the roof with a rubber one because my roof was so flat. A rubber roof wascertainly a new type of roof to me, but he assured me that my problems would be solved. Herequired half of the money before he started and the balance of the project when hefinished. I had the work done the following week and it looked like a good job. What did Iknow? I knew nothing about roofing or what it was supposed to look like. I just wanted itto stop the leaking problem. Two months later we had a downpour that lasted for severaldays. Much to my surprise, the same roof leaked again, only this time it was twice as muchas before. I immediately called the roofer back, and he told me it was probably just asmall problem. He and his men showed up and worked on the roof for two days. The secondday, one of the guys fell from the ladder and broke his arm. I was very upset, but figuredhe had his own insurance. Wrong. I was served with a lawsuit from the guy and he wanted meto cover his hospital bills and time out of work.

I couldn't believe this was happening to me. After the accident, I discovered that theroofer did not have any insurance and as for their license, it had lapsed. My roof stillleaks, I am involved in a lawsuit and 15 of the units can't be rented. What a majorheadache this turned out to be. What did I do wrong to deserve all of this grief?
--Major Headache in Milford

DEAR MAJOR HEADACHE: This will only have to happen to you once, now you thatknow how easy it is to get into trouble. First, just because people state they arelicensed, does not mean they know what they are doing. You should check with your buildingofficials to find out what is required to be a contractor. "Bonded" is anothergood word that makes people feel safe, but it doesn't take a lot to be bonded either.Determine where the company is located. Do they really have a building or do they work outof their home? Not to say companies working out of their home are not reliable, but youneed to establish company credibility. Do they have an address where you can reach them ifyou need to?

Check to see if they are covered by insurance. So many people are willing to take whatpeople say at their word. Unfortunately, you cannot always believe what everyone tellsyou, especially when you have no clue as to what they are talking about. It really putsyou at a disadvantage when you don't understand what people are telling you.

Always get references from any contractor you hire. Before any work starts, you shouldget a copy of the contractor's insurance policies (workers' compensation and liabilitypolicy) and a written bill along with a copy of the contractor's warranty. Hiring largecompanies that have solid references is always a good choice. Sometimes, it's better topay more for quality work.

It is quite evident that you have every reason to have a major headache. We wish youluck with your lawsuit and the roof.

A father-daughter team, the Waldmans are self-storage owners/operators and attorneys. In addition, Ms. Waldman holds a master's degree in labor and employment law from Georgetown University. The Waldmans are co-authors of the industry's leading series of books on self-storage operations: Getting Started, Forms, Policies & Procedures and South Carolina Tools. Another creation of Ask The Waldmans are their colorful posters designed exclusively for the self-storage industry. Comments and questions for ASK THE WALDMANS may be sent to: The Waldmans, P.O. Box 21416, Charleston, SC 29413.

E-mail: [email protected]; Web:

Views and opinions on legal matters are those of the authors.Professional counsel should be obtained before any determination or positive action is taken.

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