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Danielle Martini was persuaded to employ Perrenoud Roofing to reroof her property on the lower South Hill this spring because of their honesty. Whereas other roofing firms advised needless and costly repairs, Perrenoud’s “estimator was quite honest and executed the job,” she claims.

By July, Martini and Perrenoud were at odds: Perrenoud, she said, had messed up by ripping holes in her siding, spreading cancer-causing asbestos, breaking various Spokane Regional Clean Air Agency laws, and possibly spending $100,000 to remedy the problem. Martini refused to pay her account until she was satisfied, and Perrenoud placed a lien on her home as a result.

And, in the midst of it all, she’d discovered that neither of the two obligatory municipal roofing inspections for which her permit had paid had been done. They hadn’t booked either one until Perrenoud pronounced her roof finished.

“The city inspector said to me, ‘This guy’s notorious for this,'” Martini explains.

Jacci Bottler, a real estate agent, claims she had a city inspector say the same thing a few months ago, and Kathy Campbell, another property owner, says her property manager heard a variation of it from an inspector in 2016: Perrenoud was “notorious for not calling for inspections.”

Martini discovered exactly how renowned Perrenoud was when she did a search on him in the city’s online permit system: more than 1,300 Perrenoud licenses — scattered over over 1,200 distinct properties in the city of Spokane alone — had expired without Perrenoud arranging a final inspection.

Since 2005, they’ve worked on eight out of every ten city roofs: apartment complexes, condos, cemetery buildings, a bowling alley, a medical facility, and many neighborhood houses. It comprises land held by St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, Salem Lutheran Church, and the City of Spokane’s parks department. Even David Condon’s previous house had been re-roofed by Perrenoud without a final inspection back in 2008, before he campaigned for mayor of Spokane.

And few, if any, of the property owners were aware of it. Local governments, assuming they were aware, had done nothing. Martini became enraged and began sending emails to nearly everyone, including city agencies, City Council members, the state attorney general’s office, and the Inlander.

“All of these consumers really have un-permitted roofs owing to Perrenoud Roofing, Inc.’s deceptive intents and the City of Spokane’s carelessness,” she wrote to the AG. For starters, this might have an influence on their capacity to sell their home.

In sharp contrast, Perrenoud claims that avoiding city inspections benefits customers. But there is one point on which Perrenoud and Martini agree, albeit for opposite reasons: the city’s inspection procedure is badly defective.

“The bottom conclusion is that the system is broken,” Martini writes to Spokane City Council in an email.

NOTHING EXCEPT THE ROOF

Permits are neatly stacked in a row behind Nathan Perrenoud at his North Spokane office. Over the course of two decades, the Perrenoud Roofing president — broad-chested and goateed — had expanded his firm into one that, according to him, handles 400 roofs every year. They’d been picked to re-roof everything from sections of the Geiger Corrections Center to Riverfront Park’s Looff Carousel structure in 2014.

“So you’re undoubtedly aware that we haven’t finished a number of city inspections,” Perrenoud explains.

It’s not a mistake. It’s not an accounting error, a misunderstanding, or a computer fault. Perrenoud has purposefully avoided most of the city and county mandated inspections.

“I’m not going to say whether it’s bad or right,” he says.

However, he argues that his purpose is to safeguard his consumers. Like most towns, the city needs two inspections. Before closing up the roof and doing the final inspection, the roofer must perform a “deck” check of the roof’s bottom layer, examining critical components such as the roof’s waterproof ice shield.

However, he claims that the city and county inspection processes make him wait. It might take hours — or even three days if he phones on a Friday — for the inspector to come, leaving the residence unprotected in the interim.

“It exposes my consumers and my firm to unnecessary risks,” adds Perrenoud. “When that roof is ripped off, the exposure to the home, to the homeowner’s goods, to everything, is so significant that we can’t wait.”

He uses his credentials as a “Master Elite”-certified contractor with GAF, America’s largest roofing material producer, to argue that his requirements are considerably more stringent than what the county or the City of Spokane need.

However, Heritage Roofing & Contracting, another local roofing firm, has the same certification, but just 4% of their permits have expired without inspections.

“It’s a matter of pride for me,” Heritage owner Ted Flynn says of his inspection record. “You should want everything to shout, ‘Final, Final, Final,'” says the author.

Since 2005, more than 80% of Perrenoud Roofing’s licenses filed with the Municipal of Spokane have expired without ever receiving a final city inspection.

In comparison, just around 4% of Heritage Roofing & Construction’s Spokane licenses have expired.

He sees the examination procedure in a much more positive light. He claims that you can usually always arrange it on the same day, and that you can even request a certain hour. If there is an issue, the inspectors can be accommodating. They’ll approve half of it now and the other half later. If they can’t make it in person, they’ll occasionally allow you email in a photo of it.

“It’s simple and corny,” Flynn adds. “It’s the simplest examination procedure.”

Perrenoud says if his clients ask him to arrange the city-mandated inspection, he’ll do his best to accommodate them. However, every consumer interviewed by the Inlander stated that Perrenoud had not originally informed them that they needed to inquire.

“It wouldn’t even occur to us,” says Sheri Boggs, a former Inlander arts and culture editor who had Perrenoud rebuild her garage roof in 2018.

The proprietor of North Bowl was unaware that his bowling alley’s roof had not been examined. Neither did the 76-year-old lady who wrote Perrenoud a letter a decade ago proclaiming that the company’s “owner is a very honest and trustworthy man.”

Both, however, were so impressed by Perrenoud’s work that they expressed a desire to collaborate with him again. However, not all of Perrenoud’s clients were as enthusiastic.

“The City of Spokane building inspector was not called for a ‘deck’ inspection,” former Browne’s Addition property owner Kathy Campbell wrote in a rage-filled 2017 letter to GAF, the organization that certified Perrenoud as a Master Elite roofer. “WE had to call for inspection after-the-fact.”

When Perrenoud’s firm re-roofed its maintenance facility in 2012, the municipal parks department had no idea he hadn’t requested an inspection.

When the Inlander implies that Perrenoud hasn’t been telling his customers the whole truth, he responds angrily.

“Do you think I’m deceiving them?” Perrenoud inquires of the Inlander. “Do you believe I’m deceiving my customers?”

Several consumers state this unequivocally.

Martini declares, “He’s a liar.” “That’s my point of view.”

Bottler feels the same way.

She understands the significance of inspections as a real estate agent. Banks are typically unwilling to lend to a buyer if the property they wish to buy has an expired-permit question mark hanging over it.

“Every now and again, the bargain comes apart,” she admits.

Bottler hounded Perrenoud for two months this spring to finalize her permission before eventually emailing her to say, “Yes, the final inspection has been completed.”

Bottler dialed the city number. Neither inspection had been performed, nor had a date been set. Perrenoud might have validated that in an instant online.

Perrenoud claims it was an honest mistake: he left a note for the inspector and believed it was completed. But Bottler isn’t convinced.

When the city inspection was eventually arranged — another month later — he discovered something. He asked Perrenoud to install a few additional vents to the garage as a precaution against heat damage to her roofing throughout the summer.

With so few municipal inspections performed, it’s difficult to say how many other problems inspectors may have discovered over the years. In a rare Perrenoud inspection in 2017, the city inspector determined that the roof’s ice and water shields — a waterproof membrane meant to prevent water damage to roof decking — were inadequate above the entryways.

“Even with personnel who are really well-trained and qualified, they will miss something,” says James Moore III, Spokane County’s director of building and code enforcement. “That’s why we’re here.”

INTROSPECTION INSPECTION

Moore claims he lacks the resources to monitor when contractors miss inspections since his inspectors travel up to 200 miles each day.
Moore claims he had no knowledge until the Inlander requested the county to run the figures for Perrenoud.

In Moore’s jurisdiction, less than 8% of Perrenoud’s re-roofing projects had received all of their inspections. Over the last decade, more than 300 licenses have expired without his staff inspecting the site.

“I was thinking, ‘Wait a minute,'” she says. Moore claims. “‘Are you serious?'”

With inspectors covering up to 200 miles every day, one Spokane County official claims they lack the manpower to monitor when contractors skip inspections.

Moore began calling other regional governments to learn how they handled with contractors avoiding inspections.

When a contractor’s permit is set to expire, Cheney notifies them. If the contractor refuses to take action, Cheney Building Official Shane Nilles issues a $513 penalty. Every day, it is not repaired, and a new infraction is committed.

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