060 RCI 0417

RCI April 2017

Small roofs – where reputation can The private residential sector presents be built or ruined many opportunities for small flat roofing companies but it also has its challenges. On the one hand, risk is spread across many customers so cash flow should be reasonably stable; there is potential added value in replacement rainwater goods, roofline and perhaps insulation upgrade during refurbishment. But the customer requirement may be difficult to agree; it may change and dispute or withheld payment is never far away. Margins may soon be eroded by the administrative cost of a long trail of communication before and after the job, plus the burden of supervision of multiple gangs. One of the reasons things can go wrong is weak specification. Specification It’s simple; unless you define exactly what you propose to do, how you propose to do it and how the result will perform, you may be challenged for delivering what was not expected. Customer specification tends to be weak in this sector. Calls to SPRA Technical Helpline show that many private customers, especially those with the time to do their homework, are very savvy about products and warranties. They will research manufacturers and then ask “which would you choose: product A or product B?” to which the 060 APRIL 2017 RCIMAG.COM By Jim Hooker, SPRA technical director EPDM single ply: durable and cost effective, in the right hands reply is always “Here is a list of questions about your particular roof for you to ask the manufacturer. When you’ve got the answers, make an informed choice”. They might include colour, appearance, certificated service life, terms of warranty and the quality of product training. But many customers are not so thorough. They are frightened of building works, have low expectations of flat roofing and are tempted by lowest cost. These are the clients who unwittingly allow roofing companies to operate at the margins, without proper standards. How can SPRA help? Last year, the SPRA Homeowner Guide ‘Single ply roofing – a secure roof for your home’ was published. This freely downloadable 13-page guide gives concise information on roofing systems, lists design options and includes a vitally important quotation checklist. It also advises on selection. Selection There are effectively two ways to procure a new or refurbished roof covering. You can: – Find several contractors, ask them for quotes and select one. – You can choose a product, obtain a list of installers for quotations and select one. The first forces comparison between ‘apples and pears’ because each quote will be based on a different solution and the performance of each may differ. It will encourage a race to the bottom by those quoting and risk acceptance of the lowest quote without certainty as to what will be provided. The second will allow genuine comparison, but unless the manufacturer’s accreditations are researched, it could be a leap of faith and may be more expensive. Action by SPRA: Over the past three years, SPRA has increased its membrane suppliers to sixteen, including the US and Scandinavian EPDM manufacturers with the result that SPRA is truly representative of the single ply industry. However, some SPRA members have traditionally had a route to the householder market which involves merchants and franchises, allowing purchase arrangements that would not comply fully with the SPRA supply chain requirements. Recognising this reality, SPRA established a ‘Small Roofs Task Group’ in 2015 to see how a combination of ‘marginal gain’ policies could improve quality control and ultimately secure the reputation of single ply membrane in the private domestic sector. The skills base It’s a fact: SPRA has some contractor members which serve the private residential market, NFRC has many, but our combined strength does not reach the hundreds – probably thousands – who are in neither. Many will lack full off-site product training, will operate in the cash economy and be absent from manufacturers’ databases or CSCS SPRA MATTERS Above: Small roofs demand disproportionate quality control. Right: BCP-accredited training: The industry benchmark


RCI April 2017
To see the actual publication please follow the link above