Roofing Customer Service
- By Janet Wiens
- November 1st, 2004
Installing a new roof or replacing an existing one is complex. Choosing the right contractor is vital to achieve the desired results.
Communication is critical according to Kevin Kennedy, executive vice president for The Evans Service Companies, an established roofing contractor that operates from New York to Florida.Facility personnel should expect and receive extensive communication from their roofing contractor.This includes prequalifications, their project communication if they win the job and follow up when the project is completed.
Kennedy further says the roofing contractor should lead the way regarding how things will be handled in all phases, including sharing their health and safety plan, and that this starts before any construction begins. A preconstruction meeting conducted by the contractor is key. They must share how the project will impact facility operations, and how they deal with noise, dust, debris, and safety for building occupants.
Evaluating the Options
Before getting to the preconstruction meeting, the right contractor must be selected. Industry experts agree that you’ve got to do your homework.
Everyone needs to gain experience, but you don’t want a company to learn on your job, says Luther Mock, RRC, president of the Roof Consultants Institute (RCI). You must delve into a company’s qualifications and determine if their experience is truly appropriate for your project.
Mock says that most contractors specialize in the type of roof(s) they install. Verify the type of work they do, and ask for several references. There are nuances with every type of roof and system. Steep, low-slope, single-ply and built-ups all require different approaches.
Ask what similar projects they have completed, and assess their capabilities regarding new roofs or re-roofing assignments. Re-roofing projects can be tricky so again, don’t work with a firm who has never done what you need.
From there, look at the system(s) the contractor is certified to install. All major manufacturers have certification programs, and you want to work with a company who is certified to install the roof system you select, says Jerry Beall, manager of Technology and Support for Fibertite. Successful projects require an alliance between the owner, manufacturer, architect, roofing consultant (if any), and the contractor — and the contractor’s knowledge with the selected system is very important.
The experts interviewed agree that the contractor’s financial standing must be assessed. Ask what names they have operated under, request a letter from the company’s bank regarding their financial standing, and obtain information regarding their bonding capacity.
Review the contractor’s Experience Modifications Rating (EMR), which is used by the insurance industry to determine workers compensation rates. You should also inquire whether they have had any litigation during the past five years and, if so, what the outcome was of these instances. Finally, ask if they have completed recent projects — say in the last three years — on time and within budget. If not, ask why the differences occurred and if they would have done anything differently in order to achieve the project goals originally outlined. Its probably best to look for another roofing contractor if they aren’t forthcoming in these areas.
Maintaining the Investment
Roofs, like any facility component, require attention after they’re installed. It’s imperative that the roofing contractor continues as a partner after the last piece of work is done.
The contractor should have a dedicated maintenance and repair crew to handle warranty issues quickly, states Joe Lyons, executive vice president with Tremco. Work with someone that has the experience you need, but that will also be there over the long haul. They should be able to get to you within a day, better yet hours, to provide any required service.
While it’s not the contractor’s responsibility, the owner should review the manufacturer’s warranty for roof inspection, says Lyons. The warranty should require the manufacturer to inspect the roof system on a periodic basis and report on the system’s condition, including any recommended maintenance items, to the owner.
Lyons further says the owner should institute a preventive maintenance program immediately,and that the manufacturer and contractor can assist with this effort. He says that industry studies show that proactive maintenance completed on a yearly basis will extend the average life of a roofing system.
The saying goes that knowledge is power, but in this case, it probably means a better roofing project. Facility personnel who do their homework regarding a roofing contractor’s experience, business health and standing, personnel and certification regarding the types of roofs and systems that are used will have a more positive and successful project. There are many things a roofing contactor should deliver, and owners have the right to expect and receive just what they need to make the best investment possible.