Contractor's Role in Roofing Upgrades
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: Roofing Upgrades: Beyond System SelectionPt. 2: This PagePt. 3: Roofing Upgrades and Warranty Issues
One of the most common roofing replacement mistakes managers make is to replace a roof in kind with little or no consideration for other options. Replacing in kind assumes the type of roof installed on a building is best suited for the application. The truth is that someone probably made the original roof selection based more on first costs than on any other factor.
Replacing in kind also assumes there have been no significant changes in building use and operation during the life of the existing roof. Managers need to get a sense of potential changes by considering the equipment now commonly found on roofs compared to even 20 years ago.
For instance, new operations in a building also might have resulted in the installation of rooftop exhaust systems that discharge grease or other contaminants onto the roof. Not all types of roof membranes respond well to the resulting foot traffic or chemical exposure.
Before an upgrade project begins, managers need to determine the condition of the underlying structure that might affect the project’s specifications. If the roof is flat or has a low slope, an inspector should walk the roof during or shortly after rainfall to identify areas of ponding.
All flat or low-slope roof systems should fully drain with no water ponding 24 hours after the rain has stopped. The inspector should identify areas of ponding on roof drawings so the replacement roof can include additional roof drains or increased slopes in those areas.
One essential step to ensure a successful roof upgrade is finding a good partner — a qualified, reliable contractor. Managers tend to base the selection of a roofing contractor on the bids that are submitted, and the most important factor — often the only factor considered — in weighing these bids is the cost.
But the long-term success of the project does not rely on cost alone. It also depends on the performance of the installer. One of the leading causes of roof failures is poor workmanship, so managers need to carefully vet the contractor before making a decision.
They should review bids carefully to make sure that the system being bid is the one specified. They also need to check on the installer’s certification. Most roofing system manufacturers certify companies to install their products, so the contractor’s employees receive the comprehensive training that covers installing the roof, and the manufacturer certifies that the contractor has indeed performed up to its standards on past projects.
Managers also must be sure the contractor has the required insurance and licenses. A contractor might say it does, but that might not be true. Managers can obtain a certificate of insurance from the contractor as part of the bid package and confirm the insurance with the insurance company. They also need to demand that bidders provide license information and verify it with the appropriate state or county office.
The bid package also must include:
• information about past roof system upgrade projects the contractor has performed
• a list of references
• years the company has been in business.
Each reference should include the type of roof installed, the date of installation and contact information for each reference. The final step in this phase of the process might be the most important — contacting each reference or, better yet, visiting the facility.