Houston Police Department – Theft – Stolen Building Materials
Are Stolen Materials Being Installed On Your Home? This article is a must read if you are a homeowner!
By Greg Kapitan:
For some time since 1999 have been telling Houston area homeowners to be on the look out should they receive a very low bid on siding or roofing jobs. Why? Because, I realized that in in some cases siding and/or roofing contractors in the Houston Texas market who, in order to save on the cost of building materials, were using recycled and/or stolen building materials such as siding planks, roofing shingles and tar paper.
The Houston Chronicle reports about construction theft with their story that is very informative for both business and homeowners alike. As reported online and in the press, the local Houston Police Department are actually making arrests of several of those involved. Homeless people were hired and paid with cash or drugs to hijack materials from job sites and later companies would “fence the stolen material“, from Wikipedia – A fence knowingly buys stolen property for resale, these are the middleman, working between thieves and the eventual buyers of the stolen building materials, who are aware that the building materials are indeed stolen. With these stolen (hijacked) materials, it is likely that the warranty will not be honored by the manufacturer. Theft of building materials such as siding or roofing products is something that has been going on for some time.
This idea of hijacking product is nothing new to the construction world, as roofing and siding contractors and subcontractors are familiar with or may have been involved in construction theft for many years. The violators had just been getting away with it for a long time, it was overdue and about time they got caught red-handed and stopped in their tracks!
Who is Stealing the Building Materials?
A good portion of this problem stems from subcontractors (crews that many of the larger, well-known companies around town, hire to perform the labor portion of the siding and or roofing jobs) who may be working for a company on a siding or roofing project, then having building materials left over at the end of the project, they take the unused product from the job. The crew was then sliding the product into their trailer or truck and driving off with it. These are new siding planks, trim, roles of tarpaper, roofing shingles, boxes of pneumatic nails and accessories that are still in their packages and have never been used that were delivered and intended for use on the project.
What Are The Crews Doing With This Material?
After hijacking the product, the crews would then either sell the unused materials back to the reseller yard (fence) or low bid their own side jobs and use these left over materials. There are several smaller reseller (fencing) yards around Houston who were willing to buy the unused siding or roofing materials from the crews as a discounted price. This arrangement would allow the crew to simply pull up to the the reseller yard, slide the siding planks or unload the roofing shingles from back of their trailers right into the helping hands of the reseller lumber yards then getting paid cash for the building materials.
As you can imagine, this is a win-win for both the crew, who brings this material in and gets paid, as well as the lumber yard, who gets product not only delivered directly to their door but pays a discounted price for materials that were charged to a siding or roofing company job completed by the crew.
What Are The Reseller Yards (fencing) Paying The Crews?
When the subcontractor crews delivered in the unused material to the resellers (fencing) yard, then the reseller yard would count up the quantity of the product (whether it is siding planks or roofing shingles). For example, let’s say that a crew brought in siding planks like James Hardie Siding and or the LP SmartSide Siding, these usually retail for approximately $10 a plank. The reseller yard gives the crew (that acquired them for free) $5 for each plank, then the yard resells it back to the public who purchases the material at a discounted price of $7.50 each. The same deal with roofing shingles such as the GAF Timberline Shingles, a crew might, for example, bring in 10 bundles of unused shingles that retail for $30 per bundle, the reseller yard would then pay the crew $15 per bundle at $10 per bundle for a total of $150, which I would call, “free money” to the crew and darn right underhanded!
The reseller yard, once again, turns around and sells this unused material to the public for $22.50 per bundle, a discounted price instead of the regular retail price of $30 per bundle that is typically charged. Again, another win-win for both as far as money savings goes for the crew and yard. However; this is an illegal fence practice of construction theft that both the crew and reseller yards are participating in and are literally banking on.
A brief overview:
> Siding Company pays $10 per siding plank (from a retail supplier lumber yard) and hires a crew to install the material
> The dishonest crew takes the extra siding from job they worked on without permission, at no cost to them
> The crew gets paid from a reseller yard at $5 per plank
> The reseller yard re-sells the stolen siding planks at a discounted price to the public for $7.50 ea.
Note: 90% of these transactions are completed as a cash transactions
What is the Condition of the Resold Material and is There any Warranty?
Is short, most of the resold material is in fair to good condition however; the material may not be in as good of condition as it were just delivered by a legitimate supplier like ABC Supply and or West End Roofing Supply. When building materials such as siding and roofing have been resold, shifted around and compromised, there is NO Warranty and it Void on these compromised products. This is another aspect that most Houston area homeowners are not aware of. Let me explain why, when the siding or roofing material is delivered directly from retail lumber yards it is in great condition, banded together and has not been shuffled around as well as verifiable tickets and/or receipts for the product purchased from the original supplier, this is not secondhand product.
When being moved around, the integrity of the products can be compromised. Like Hardie siding can end up with chipped ends and roofing shingles can be easily torn thus compromising the quality of the products. This happens when the crews load the extra material in and out of their trailers and it is often shuffled around with the trash. The moving around and hauling can cause the chipped ends and slightly torn roofing shingles that are then resold, possibly damaged, to the public at a discounted price.
How it Can Play Out on Your Job..
Now I will provide you with a scenario of how this can play out on siding or roofing jobs in the state of Texas. When the crew shows up on job like a siding job, the materials are all bundled together by the retail lumber yard who attaches a packing or delivery ticket. The siding company had the supplier deliver 10 squares of siding to the home for installation. The crew then meets with the supervisor of the siding company and goes over the job. Once the supervisor has left the job, the crew gets to work. The crew starts installing the siding material on the home and in the midst of the project, may slip a few planks onto their trailer upside down placing the trash on top to disguise it as trash, or they may, at the end of the job remove the leftover material without the knowledge of the siding contractor, placing it on top of the trash and covering it with a tarp as if it were trash.
How Crews are Getting Paid, Part of the Problem!
You see, many siding companies pay their siding crews based the amount of siding installed on a job rather than paying them on the total amount ordered. So, if a crew gets paid $225 per square and 10 squares were delivered they get paid $225 for 10 squares totaling $2,250. However; most siding companies want to cut as much cost as possible to maximize profit, so they pay the crews based on the actual amount installed vs the amount dropped and then ask the crew leave any extra material for pickup by the supplier to receive a credit.
If there are 2 squares of siding material left over out of the 10 that was delivered, the siding company will only pay the crew for 8 squares of siding which would save the company 2 squares at $225 totaling a $450 in addition to the credit they will get from the lumber yard on the returned product.
When companies choose to pay their crews based on how much they install, the crew may choose to claim that all of the siding delivered was installed in order to get paid better. I have found that this method leaves room for dishonesty on the part of the crew. I have heard of them slipping a few planks into their trailed before they start the job, which can provide the crew with the opportunity to claim that the job needed more siding to complete when they run out of siding before the end of the job (totally even more squares). The crew simply tells the siding company they need more material (within believable reason) thus the crew ends up making more money on the job and as well as having extra material they can sell at a discount to the re-seller yard, so I have found this not to be good practice.
I have found a better method is to pay the crews based on the total amount of material dropped not just by the total amount of material installed. The crews are less wasteful and more honest going this route.
Education of Homeowners is the Key About a Low Bid (estimate)
Having been in the home improvement business for nearly 30 years and being aware of this happening over and over again, it is my intention to educate homeowners into having some insight on why their bid may be so low from some contractors vs others and can be a red flag. If this is the case, it very well could be because the material was acquired at a lower price from a reseller yard provided by a crew that hijacked it from someone else’s home project.
How To Know New Materials Are Being Used on Your Home?
What can a homeowner do to ensure that ONLY NEW, Fully-Warrantied Material will be installed on their home? I am surprised at the number of Home Exterior Companies in TX are using used or leftover material from jobs, recycling and reusing them on homeowner’s homes in order to save money. be sure to select a company who uses supplies from reputable suppliers who will deliver your siding or roofing product directly to your home like we at Texas Home Exteriors does and we’ll install ONLY NEW, full warrantied materials on your home.
The materials for your project will be delivered straight to your door directly from ABC Supply or West End Roofing. We only use reputable suppliers who are some of the Largest and deliver new products such as: Simonton, replacement windows, NT Window, GAF Roofing, LP SmartSide, HardiePlank and KayCan Vinyl Siding Product Suppliers in Texas and America!
I hope that you have found this stolen building materials post must helpful in making an informed and educated decision. Please follow my, Kapitan The Siding Man Blog which is full of great content to help provide you with information and insight into many home improvement decisions.
Greg Kapitan, “Kapitan The Siding Man”