When a customer told contractor Brien Murphy that she would find someone else to complete a roofing job, that their contract was void and that she would not pay a $3,270 balance, he had two options:
• Sue the customer for the balance.
• Say goodbye.
Mr. Murphy, 42, owner of EZ Home Exteriors of North Versailles, chose the latter.
"It is unfortunate that this job ended up turning out the way it did," he said. "I tried to work with the [customer] in a fair and reasonable manner. When she sent the letter essentially saying she was done and not paying the balance, it was music to my ears."
Mr. Murphy was referring to Uta Schwan Ulbrich, 91, of Wilkins. She and her son, Leifur, 53, hired his company to put a new roof on their home.
The work was done in late December 2011. When high winds blew eight ridge cap shingles off the roof in early January, Mr. Murphy replaced the shingles.
Although they said they weren't satisfied with the overall job, the Ulbrichs paid $6,760 and said they expected Mr. Murphy to correct various "discrepancies." I wrote about the Ulbrichs' problem with EZ Home Exteriors on Dec. 20.
My attempts to reach Mr. Murphy for his comments before the article was published were unsuccessful. He said he didn't receive the messages I left on an office answering machine because it apparently malfunctioned.
I accepted his offer last month to meet him in his office. We reviewed his correspondence with the Ulbrichs. The paperwork showed his relationship with the Ulbrichs deteriorated in early 2012.
Mr. Murphy said he and Mr. Ulbrich came to a parting of the ways when Mr. Leifur wanted flashing work around a chimney done in accordance with a How To book published in 1974. Mr. Murphy agreed to do it provided Mr. Ulbrich sign off on the work. Mr. Ulbrich refused.
Mr. Murphy said his company has been on Angie's List of recommended contractors since 2004, that it received Angie's Super Service Award in 2011 and 2012 and that in 2006 it became the first Owens Corning Platinum Preferred Roofing Contractor in the Pittsburgh area.
He said the company was the pioneer in the region for its No Deposit Policy. "We get paid when the work is complete," he said. Some companies require a sizeable deposit before any work is done.
To prove that the company's experience with the Ulbrichs was a rare exception, Mr. Murphy handed me a list of more than 300 customers and invited me to call as many as I wanted when I returned to the office. The seven random customers I spoke to gave the company positive reviews.
They said they hired EZ Home Exteriors after consulting Angie's List, family members and friends. One hired the company because of its relationship with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The company annually sponsors a child's wish.
The customers said the work crews showed up on time, did extra work at nominal cost (replaced water damaged wood around chimneys and behind gutters etc.), completed the job on time and, with one exception, cleaned up after themselves.
Based on a report by home inspector Dan Howard that their home needed a new roof, the Ulbrichs are in the process selecting a new roofing company. Mr. Howard, a member of the American Society of Home Inspectors, is based in Freeport.
"I respect Dan and what he does, but we stand behind our work," Mr. Murphy said.
Lawrence Walsh can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and 412-263-1895. Please include your name and day, evening and/or cell phone number(s). Due to volume, he cannot respond to every email or phone call.