In our current fragile economy, best value is not always defined by price alone. In harder times, smaller companies with little to no experience installing commercial roof systems commonly attempt to take on commercial roofing projects without the proper experience, manpower, equipment and insurance. Most often this results in devastating consequences for the building owner. A commercial roofing system that comes cheap but is poorly installed by an amateur with inadequate resources can lead to premature roof failure or worse, persistent leaks and hassle, easily placing a company in financial risk and undue stress. So how can commercial building owners avoid this disastrous scenario? Accurately determine who is the most experienced and accomplished commercial roofer offering the most dependable and cost-effective long-term solutions?
There’s no quick easy answer. Sites like Angies’s List, Home Advisor, and BBB.org only provide some of the key information you need to make a decision this large. The best and most comprehensive solution is to perform your own due diligence and verify the qualifications of your commercial roofer before you enter into any contractual obligation. If your company doesn’t have a process already determined for selecting vendors or contractors DCI has developed our “Due Diligence Series” of articles and documents which outline the salient questions to ask when evaluating a commercial roofing firm for quality, dependability, safety and expertise.
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1) How long has the commercial roofer been in business?
- Do they operate from a legitimate, permanent, location complete with professional offices, warehousing and work-shop capabilities?
- Tax Identification Number, Business License (where required) should all be readily available.
- Roofing is a difficult industry and those roofers that fail will start up another business in as little as 2 months.
2) Does the roofer have current, documented, industry and manufacturer certifications?
- What level of certification have they achieved with each manufacturer? Some manufacturers have multiple levels of certification which define elite contractors from those that are trained to install their roofing systems.
- Have they won any awards or been cited for outstanding quality by any manufacturers? What scores are they achieving when rated by manufacturer’s inspection teams?
3) Does the roofer maintain appropriate credit lines with multiple material suppliers? Who are they?
- Material suppliers should be regionally or nationally recognized (eg. ABC Supply, BRADCO Supply, SRS Distribution Inc, Beacon Roofing Supply, Allied Building Products).
- Sufficient credit line is typically 5x times the amount of the awarded contract. This is a tell-tale sign of how quickly a roofer can begin your job. With the proper credit line they do not need to complete a previous job in order to release credit and begin yours.
4) How many total square feet of manufacturer-warranted commercial roofing installations does the roofer perform annually?
- Readily provide copies of warranties issued for projects similar to yours (10-15 examples) in scope for a minimum five-year period.
5) How many complete roof installations does the roofer perform annually?
- Can they provide a list of completed project references over the previous five-year period that you can contact?
6) Does the roofer self-perform all aspects of their roof installations or do they act as a broker and subcontract their installations?
- Some companies claim to be roofing companies when in fact they are composed of just a sales team in a small office and subcontract the work out to smaller or low-bid contractors who may not have the proper qualifications or certifications.
7) Are they equipped with up-to-date safety equipment that meets or exceeds OSHA requirements?
- Many building owners have been dragged into litigation involving uninsured roofing contractors.
8) Does the roofer perform any significant amount of service work on behalf of any given commercial roofing manufacturer to correct poor workmanship performed by other commercial roofing installers?
9) Does the roofer maintain a dedicated full-time service division and if so, how many service crews do they employ?
- Some smaller companies will only staff service crews as needed and cannot respond promptly to emergency repairs which can be costly to property owners.
10) Is the roofer fully-insured?
- Do they have a current insurance certificate complete with all aspects of coverage to include general liability, automobile liability, umbrella/excess liability and workers compensation?
- Do not be complacent with state minimum coverage amounts; insurance should be sufficient to cover multiple projects at the same time.
Ok now you understand the basic qualifications of the contractor you’ve selected…. but wait that’s not all! Also check out our Part 2 post which explains what your contractor should be asking you! If you have any additional questions we are always here to help. Slide over to our Contact Us page and submit your question and we’ll happy to help you along with the selection process.