Home repairmen, builders busy in hailstorm aftermath

Reading Eagle

by Bruce Posten

May 23--Damage to Berks County homes caused by Thursday's hailstorm had home builders and remodelers busy trying to tend to customers' concerns.

"Our phones are blowing off the hook," said Eric Bachman, president and owner of Bachman's Roofing, Building and Remodeling in Wernersville.

"We have 10 two-man crews out assessing customer damage," he said. "What we are seeing is plenty of skylight breakage, beat up ridge vents on roofs and vinyl siding, gutter and shingle damage.

"We are doing our best to tend to everyone, but there is some frustration out there because when our trucks show up, neighbors start coming out with their concerns, so that makes a bit of a backup."

Bachman encouraged residents to take the first step and contact their insurance company to file a claim.

Five other busy contractors and landscapers contacted by phone had some version of the typical automated message: "We are either on the phone at the moment or unable to take your call at this time. Please leave a name and number and we will do our best to get back to you."

Bachman said his crews were so busy that they prioritized concerns and first dealt with emergency issues to ensure a damaged home was water tight.

Christian D. Malesic, executive officer of the Home Builders Association of Berks County, which represents about 300 companies that serve Berks, said it may take some time to evaluate the real impact of the storm.

"It could take a couple of weeks to see how all this shakes out when homeowners start to discover things that aren't immediately visible now," he said. "The skylight and window damage is the most obvious."

Malesic encouraged residents to be patient and rely on a local remodeler and member of the association who is reputable.

Malesic and Bachman said such sudden and destructive storms often attract so-called storm chasers, aggressive contractors from outside an area who may prey on those looking for a quick fix to home damage problems but offer no guarantees and may be hard to reach subsequent to making repairs.

Both said they were aware of a similar hailstorm that caused major damage in the Allentown area about three years ago, but described such weather as a freak storm for Berks.

"I got a call from one of my national suppliers who has access to studies on storms like this," Bachman said. "They are calling this a three-year storm because ultimately it can create that much work over that length of time.

"And this storm came at what is already a busy time for us going into the summer."

Contact Bruce R. Posten: 610-371-5059 or