One essential step in planning a successful roof recover or replacement a roof is finding a good partner — a qualified, reliable contractor.
Selecting a roofing contractor is based heavily on the bids that are submitted, and the most important factor — often the only factor considered — is the cost. But the long-term success of the project does not rely on cost alone. It depends more 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.
Review bids carefully to make sure the system being bid is the one specified. Check on the installers certification. Most roofing system manufacturers certify companies to install their products. As a result, the contractor’s employees receive the comprehensive training in installing the roof, and the manufacturer certifies that the contractor has performed up to its standards on past projects.
Managers also must be sure the contractor has the required insurance and licenses. A contractor might says it does, but that does not necessarily mean it is true. Obtain a certificate of insurance from the contractor as part of the bid package, and confirm the insurance with the insurance company. Managers 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 projects the contractor has performed; a list of references; and the number of 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 — contact each reference or, better yet, visit the facility.
Managers making decisions on roof system recovery or replacement tend to pay attention to the warranty mostly as it relates to its length. Every roof has a warranty, yet most warranties bought and paid for by a building owner never have a claim completed against them. While claims might be filed, they often are dismissed, since they are for excluded items or because the owner has failed to meet the requirements necessary to keep the warranty in place.
Warranties lay out the steps owners and managers must take in order to keep the warranty in effect. Typical warranty requirements include debris removal, twice yearly inspections, drain cleaning, limited foot traffic, and prompt repairs. Managers need to read and understand these requirements, and they need to document all activities in the event of a warranty claim.
Managers also need to read the offered warranty closely before settling on a particular contract. Does the manufacturer or the installer issue the warranty?
This is important because it is more likely the roof manufacturer, not the installer, will be in business over the length of the warranty. Does the warranty include labor, or is it for materials only? What are the exclusions? Is damage to the facility and its contents covered in the event of a warranty-related roof failure?
When a roof fails, managers often are stuck with having to replace it or to make costly repairs under less-than-ideal conditions. They most likely have to pay a premium under these conditions, and they might find they are paying in the long term with possible shorter service lives if the roof was replaced at the wrong time.
James Piper, P.E., is a national consultant based in Bowie, Md. Piper has more than 30 years of experience with facility maintenance and engineering management issues.
Roofing: Recovery vs. Replacement
Roofing: Selecting a Qualified and Reliable Contractor