roofing

A guide to finding the right roofing contractor

Monday, November 9, 2020
By Jack Albert

Low-slope roofing systems, on top of most residential towers, will typically require replacement following a service life of 20 to 30 years, depending on the type of roof and the quality of the initial design and installation. Shingle roofs may be in the range of 15 to 20 years. Since the replacement work is a significant investment and can have a major impact on the site, it is important to find the right roofing contractor for the job.

Basic qualifications

For any larger construction project, it is necessary to ensure that the potential contractor or bidder has the proper qualifications. This would typically include bonding, insurance, experience in similar work and a good health and safety record. For many roofing systems and warranties, the roofing installers must also have specific training from the roofing system manufacturer to install the products and to qualify for certain warranty levels.
Additional qualifications may include membership in the Ontario Industrial Roofing Contractors Association (OIRCA) or CORTM certification which is an occupational health and safety accreditation program.

Detailed references

Company and project specific references can be provided on the CCDC 11 – 2019 Contractor’s Qualification Statement, which is a standard document for contractors to provide information about their companies, capacity, skill and experience.

The CCDC 11 document includes project references and company information, such as the legal structure, financial reference, bonding (security) reference, insurance reference, health and safety information, valuation of construction work projected for current year and the actual value for the past four years. Personnel qualifications and experience are also provided, including the proposed key office and site personnel.

Checking references

References should be reviewed and contacts called for any prospective contractors. The project references should be both recent and for projects that were of a similar scope and size. It may be valuable to contact both the property manager and consultant references (if provided) as they may have information on different aspects of the work. When calling references, some items to review include:

  • Project Schedule – Was the agreed upon schedule met (both start date and duration)?
  • Communication – Was information such as working days proactively provided, and was the roofing project manager or superintendent responsive to phone calls and emails?
  • Site Presence – Were the site staff respectful and well behaved? There are instances of roofers being abrasive, but many roofing crews go out of their way to ensure the client is happy and to limit disruptions to the site and interior spaces below their work.
  • Surprises – Did anything come up on the project that was unforeseen, and how did the contractor deal with this? There are contractors who want to work as a team and get the project done quickly; others are looking for extras.
  • People – The people make the difference. It is worth asking the names of the site and office team members of the project.

Special conditions

Some project conditions may be difficult or uncommon, and it is essential to know that the potential roofing contractor has the ability to deal with them and can convey to the property management how those conditions will be addressed. Such items may include:

  • Noise Limitations – Work cannot be completed during regular working hours.
  • Odour Limitations – Work may be near air intakes or there may be people in the building with odour sensitivities.
  • Special Access – Accessing the work area may involve extensive scaffolding, shoring or large cranes.
  • Specialty Materials – Not all contractors are familiar with less common materials such as flat seam copper, slate, landscaping, polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA), etc.
  • Designated Substances – These may include asbestos, lead or coal tar pitch.
  • Ice Damning – This is often related to venting, thermal bridging or air leakage.

Jack Albert, P.Eng., is an associate with Read Jones Christoffersen Ltd (RJC). Jack is a member of the Ontario Building Envelope Council, IIBEC, and is an accredited Green Roof Professional (GRP), certified Passive House Designer, and a LEED Accredited Professional. Over the past 15 years, Jack has completed numerous projects involving window and roofing installation, building envelope testing and thermal modeling of building envelope assemblies.

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