05 Mar When to call in a roofing specialist for your facility
How to know when it’s time to call in a roofing maintenance specialist
The 3 scenarios when Facilities Managers should call in the experts
When your facility develops a problem with water ingress, it can be tempting to try and save money and have the problem addressed by a generalist maintenance contractor.
However, trying to avoid engaging a roofing maintenance specialist can definitely be a false economy. In this news post, the R&BS team look at when you should consider looking to a specialist – and why.
What exactly is a ‘roofing specialist’?
Before we begin, let’s take a look at what exactly a roofing specialist is. Of course, the term ‘specialist’ is broad, and can include contractors who have quite a range of skills and qualifications. This can make it difficult for you as a Facility Manager to determine which qualifications are needed for true “specialization”.
Roofing specialists should combine the skills, experience and qualifications to provide detailed, comprehensive assessments and services. And while they will have detailed knowledge of roofing in general, there are also specific skill sets within the industry which may also carry requirements for training and qualification.
Trades and services such as waterproofing, concrete repair and heritage property repairs will all require additional training and qualifications.
You can understand why it’s important to thoroughly research the qualifications your maintenance job requires and ensure your contactor can provide evidence of their completion.
How to identify a roofing maintenance specialist
As a Facility Manager, you can ensure you’re hiring a qualified roofing specialist by looking for the following credentials:
- Comprehensive safety and compliance arrangements, including Job Site Hazard IDs, Safe Work Method Statements, incident reporting systems, and policies covering site safety requirements, including operation of machinery such as Elevated Work Platforms if applicable.
- If the value of the works exceeds a state-specific threshold, the roofer should provide a valid contractor’s license issued by their relevant state authority. This may be a company license or an individual license.
- Check the establishment date of the provider, to ensure the company and its staff have the depth of industry experience you would expect of a specialist.
- Ensure the provider carries all relevant insurances; specifically that they carry reliable Professional Indemnity Insurance if you are retaining consultancy services.
Requesting references from past clients is an excellent way to assess a professed specialist contractor’s work history and outcomes. It allows you to make an educated assessment of their standards of safety, quality and integrity.
Consider asking the specialist’s contact:
- When did the contractor work for you?
- What type of property did they work on?
- What was the size of the project?
- How would you rate the quality of their service?
- How would you rate their commitment to safety?
- Did their recommended scope of works address the issue in question?
Skill assessments are particularly crucial when you’re looking for a specialist to carry out high-risk works. Always ensure a contractor claiming to specialize in services such as EWP operation, asbestos management and scaffolding can actually provide evidence of the requisite licenses and training.
When should you call a roofing specialist for your facility?
There are three main scenarios where it simply makes sense to call in a roofing maintenance expert to address issues with your building. They are:
1) When you have a water ingress problem that just can’t be fixed
This is a problem R&BS Project Managers encounter on a regular basis – often following extensive efforts by other contractors! When you encounter a problem leak at your facility, it’s time to call in a roofing specialist.
Of course, previous contractors may well have approached the issue in good faith, believing themselves capable of addressing it. They may not be aware that while certain roof issues may present symptoms on the roof surface, the root cause is actually related to the substrate (the roof’s underlying layers).
In some situations, the problem may appear to be entirely related to damaged metal sheets, elemental damage, or incorrectly sealed penetrations. Yet the true causes may be more subtle. Air vent effluent, acidic pigeon guano, downpipe blockages, and insufficient bonding of a waterproof membrane to the roof surface all have the potential to cause problem leaks.
To make matters more confusing, some of these issues may come and go, which makes it extremely difficult for generalist contractors to pinpoint the problem’s origin.
Of course, unfortunately many Facility Managers have also encountered contractors who misrepresent their skills and abilities – who simply don’t have the knowledge, resources, or manpower to adequately repair problem leaks.
That’s why it pays to ensure that roof issues are addressed by a qualified roofing specialist. Whilst this may be costly in the short term, the long-term costs of retaining multiple unqualified or inexperienced contractors will be far greater.
- Air conditioning effluent
- Box gutter corrosion
- Blocked downpipes (internal and external)
- Unsealed penetrations
- Poorly sealed penetrations
- Poorly bonded membranes
- Concrete cancer
- Ponding, often related to damaged or inundated box gutters
2) When your facility requires hazardous or high-risk services
By their very nature, roof repairs often involve high-risk or dangerous services – and that’s particularly the case with ageing or large-scale properties.
Many roof-related services are considered to be hazardous or high risk, including:
- The assessment, removal and disposal of asbestos
- Working in confined roof spaces
- Engaging in hot work, including welding and application of torch-on membranes
- Working at heights
While this list is by no means comprehensive, it does include some of the core hazards encountered during roof works. These services carry stringent safety and compliance requirements, which means calling in a specialist can assure that the works will be completed safely.
There are three primary ways for Facility Managers to verify whether a provider specialises in hazardous work:
- License and training checks
- Safety management system checks
- Work history checks
Conducting a comprehensive background check at the outset may be time consuming, yet it will give you the peace-of-mind and reassurance that you’re dealing with a qualified specialist.
3) When your roof’s condition requires investigative and consultancy services
Roof audits and consultancy services are an excellent way to obtain a comprehensive overview of your roof condition, including issues related to the substrate and elements such as skylights, air conditioning vents and plant room penetrations.
Yet as we’ve talked about, many roof issues do not present obvious symptoms, meaning they may be overlooked or misinterpreted.
An issue that’s regularly encountered by R&BS’s Project Managers is the misdiagnosis of problems caused by deteriorating sealant around roof plant penetrations. Many modern facilities with roof-top plant rooms experience problem leaks as a consequence of poor-quality silicone sealants around plant equipment. Investigations often point to more obvious (but incorrect) culprits, such as box gutters or skylights – which allows leaks to continue to damage the property interior.
When you engage a roofing specialist you’ll have the reassurance that more subtle problem points, such as sealants, will be investigated.
Before you lock in a contractor, talk to the roof maintenance specialists at R&BS
It’s true that specialist roofers are not required in every maintenance situation, and many small, recently established contractors will provide excellent service outcomes.
But if you’re a Facility Manager looking for additional reassurance that complex works will be completed on time, on budget, and with a high degree of quality, a roofing specialist gives you the peace-of-mind you seek.
When you’re looking for the right roofing maintenance specialist for your needs, assess:
- Licenses and qualifications
- The contractor’s period of establishment
- The contractor’s experience in dealing with large scale, heritage, high-security and/or remote facilities if required
- References from clients who have demonstrable work histories with the contractor
Though you might think that hiring a roofing maintenance specialist is inconvenient or expensive in the short term, it’s likely to vastly improve long-term outcomes for your facility.