Four Ways Technology Boosted My Business

We all know technology can benefit our businesses in many ways. The challenge is selecting the right technology from the hundreds of apps and programs out there.

One area I needed technology to help with was providing a more seamless and efficient way of ordering materials for different jobs. Luckily my tech selection process was made a little easier when I learned my building materials supplier had an online program that could connect with the software I was already using.

After talking with a sales representative, I was able to start working with the online program the very next week.

Here’s how it works:

  • I can take aerial measurements— within 98 percent accuracy—of a roof without getting up there to take manual measurements.
  • The software uses the roof measurements and my distributor’s real-time pricing and products to create a materials list.
  • I turn my materials list into an order I electronically submit to my distributor from anywhere.

After working with hundreds of orders since implementing this program in September 2015, I’ve experienced a 20 percent decrease in the time required to process orders for building materials and have seen more efficiency and accuracy in my projects.

Here’s how this technology helped my business:

Project Visualization

Prior to taking advantage of this program, I placed orders based on information from project hand sketches. This would often lead to time-consuming follow-ups with my team to get more details or confirm information. Now I can electronically enter aerial roof and wall measurements, review and update them if necessary, and create materials lists.

Having all our important information in an electronic tool is great! I no longer have to call my team to confirm handwritten information. This has resulted in my team being more efficient and reduced the number of ordering errors that come from misinterpreting information on a piece of paper.

It’s also helpful to have an electronic tool where I can look up all my orders and see when they were placed and what items were included.

Accessible Products

Having technology that integrates with my supplier gives me the ability to access real-time products and pricing during and outside of business hours. This flexibility is so important. One evening I needed cost information on a skylight and all I had to do was go to my account to get the price through the online program.

Manage Business 24/7

From creating estimates to submitting orders, one of my favorite features of this technology is that it gives me the option to access projects 24/7. This lets me place many of my orders after business hours or on weekends, freeing up my time during the day to focus on other projects. I also no longer need to scan or fax orders, and I can quickly locate order information, like date ordered or materials lists, if I need to.

Seamlessly Work With Business Contacts

My business specializes in storm damage and roof replacement, so my team often works with other parties, such as insurance companies. Not only does the software I use integrate with my supplier’s program, it’s also a tool used by some insurance adjusters to measure and quote roof repairs. Being able to use the same or a similar type of software with different groups of people makes my job easier by streamlining our process.

No matter what project we are working on, we have one goal: make the roof repair and replacement process easy for our customers. But that doesn’t mean things have to be harder for my team. And thanks to the technology we’ve incorporated into our workflow, it isn’t.

It can be tough (and often overwhelming) trying to figure out what technology will be the best fit for your business, especially when so many options claim to help with things like efficiency and accuracy. My advice for finding the best solutions for you? Talk to your team to identify areas you want to improve and then check with your distributor to see if it has any technology solutions for your business. The more you can simplify the steps you need to go through to place orders and get materials, the easier (and more accurate and more efficient) your job will be.

Brian Schaible relies on the ABC Connect program, which integrates with AccuLynx Quick Order and EagleView Construct, to streamline his business. To learn more about ABC Connect, read an “Online Exclusive” about it.

Self-flashing Skylights on Commercial Warehouses Are Beginning to Leak

Today, many commercial roofers are dealing with a large-scale problem—reinstalling and replacing leaky self-flashing skylights on commercial warehouses. I have seen firsthand how improper installation of self-flashing skylights has become a headache for commercial property owners.

many of the skylights installed on commercial warehouse properties in the western Sunbelt states were installed improperly because they were installed first and foremost as fall protection for the open floor in the roof during construction by the builder and not by the roofer.

Many of the self-flashing skylights installed on commercial warehouse properties in the western Sunbelt states were installed improperly because they were installed first and foremost as fall protection for the open floor in the roof during construction by the builder and not by the roofer.

Around the late 1970s and early 1980s, intermodal freight became a huge part of global distribution. To handle the increase in freight projects, warehouse construction exploded. The Port of Oakland, for instance, invested heavily in intermodal container transfer capabilities in the ’80s. In fact, the aggressive growth of intermodal freight distribution continued into the early 2000s.

The cheapest and easiest way for skylights to be installed on these warehouses was to use self-flashing skylights. The metal curb or L bracket attached to the bottom of the skylight was, in theory, supposed to be set on top of the built-up roofing material and then stripped in, sandwiching the flange between he roofing layers. The result would be roofing material, then skylight, then more roofing material over the flashing on the skylight.

Unfortunately, many of the skylights installed on commercial warehouse properties in the western Sunbelt states were installed improperly because they were installed first and foremost as fall protection for the open floor in the roof during construction by the builder and not by the roofer. Our teams have seen thousands of these original self-flashing skylight installations where self-flashing flanges are set directly on the plywood roof deck, below all the roofing materials.

Most of the original roofers didn’t budget in the time and money it took to pull the skylight assembly apart from the roof deck and re-install it the proper way. Nor did they wash the oils off the new metal from the galvanizing process or use asphalt primer to prep the steel flanges of the assembly and ensure the roofing asphalt would stick properly. Over the years, as the metal of the skylight flanges expanded and contracted and the built-up roof did the same, but at a different rate, the roofing system eventually separated from the skylight, leaving a self-flashing skylight that’s now turned into what we jokingly refer to as a “self-leaking skylight”. This is part of the reason why everyone thinks skylights always leak.

The best way we’ve found to install leak-free skylights on a commercial warehouse roof, especially when re- placing the self-flashing skylights on an existing building, is to use a curb-mounted skylight. A curb-mounted skylight fits like a shoebox lid over a new curb the roofing contractor fabricates as part of the installation. This curbed design eliminates the metal flange and offers waterproofing redundancy in critical areas of the installation, so water can’t get into the building at the skylight opening. Because the new skylight is installed on a curb, it’s also much easier to address any future issues with the skylight or to replace it down the road if necessary. This especially comes in handy when owners lease to new tenants. New building occupancy regulations mean skylights may be required by municipalities to be changed out for smoke vents to comply with fire codes.

If you’re dealing with one or more self-flashing skylight leaks, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • Check if there is condensation on the inside of the skylight; a lot of skylights have a trough where condensation runoff will leak into the building.
  • Be sure to check the juncture where the skylight and the roof meet (the skylight base flashing), which can sometimes include up to 5 inches of mastic at the base flashing.
  • If the skylight has a frameless acrylic cap without a metal frame around the outside, check the acrylic dome for stress cracks. It is possible to replace some acrylic domes on some skylights but often the cost of an acrylic dome is roughly the same as the cost of a new skylight, and if you’re already considering installing a new roof with a 15- to 20-year warranty, it doesn’t make much sense to leave the “self-leaking skylight” frame in place. Replacing the skylights during the reroofing project is much more cost-effective than re- turning to replace skylights later. In addition, skylight technology is far better now than it was 15 or 20 years ago (think about today’s impact-resistant polycarbonate and better UV and fall protection).

Above all else, don’t let self-flashing skylights give you and your roofing business a bad name. Instead, address the issue with your commercial clients and educate them about the best choices for their skylights and how they can stay current with the International Building Code and municipal codes. You’ll be helping them protect one of their biggest assets by ensuring their skylights stay leak-free.

PHOTOS: Highland Commercial Roofing

Six Risks You Should Know Before Putting Skylights on Your Roof

Skylights are popular for a reason. They add an extra dash of beauty to any commercial building, and they’re a great source of free lighting. But there are also drawbacks, and, if you’re not aware of them, the costs can end up being far greater than the benefits. Whether you already have a skylight or are considering adding one to the design of a new roof, make sure you’re prepared to deal with the downsides:

  • 1. Leaks
    Skylights are famous—or maybe that should be infamous—for leaking. Over time, the seals and flashing can deteriorate, providing an opportunity for water to penetrate your roof. Things like rain, snow and debris can accelerate the process. Modern skylights are less prone to leaks than older versions, but even the best skylight can leak if it isn’t installed properly.

    There’s an additional leak risk, too: ice dams. Skylights transfer heat to the surrounding roofing material, causing any accumulated snow to melt. That, in turn, can contribute to ice dams, eventually causing even more leaks and adding to the cost of roof maintenance.

  • 2. Breakage
    Even standard roofs are vulnerable to the elements, particularly wind and storm damage, but skylights are even more so. Hail and flying debris, for in-stance, can easily crack a skylight. And, when it comes to snow loads, skylights can be the weakest part of the roof. If you calculate the maximum weight load based on the rest of the roof, your sky-light could fail from the excess weight of a heavy snowfall.

  • 3. Falls
    For workers performing roof maintenance, skylights pose a risk for serious injury, or even death. Some workers simply assume skylights are designed to bear their weight and will intentionally stand or sit on them. Tripping and falling onto a skylight presents yet another risk. That’s why the Washington, D.C.-based Occupational Safety and Health Administration puts skylights in the same category as other open holes and requires that each one is protected by a screen or guard rail that meets OSHA’s regulations.

    However, guard rails aren’t 100 percent safe either. Depending on the quality of the safety net or the weight of the victim, roof-maintenance professionals can fall through just as easily as they would through a skylight.

  • 4. Light Exposure
    While access to free natural light is one of the primary benefits of skylights, there’s also a drawback. Depending on the placement, skylights can actually let in too much light, contributing to glare and excess UV exposure. Not only can that be hard on employees, it can cause preventable damage to furniture, carpeting, art and more valuable items.

  • 5. Energy Loss
    In stark contrast to the lure of free lighting, skylights can have a significant negative impact on heating and cooling costs. Skylights simply don’t present the same barrier to heat transfer that more traditional roofing materials do. In the winter, heat escapes. In the summer, heat seeps into the building—and sun-light and glare only add to that effect. According to the National Fenestration Rating Council Inc., Greenbelt, Md., skylights can cause a building’s interior temperature to fluctuate by more than half the difference between the exterior temperature.

  • 6. Space Constraints
    Skylights take up rooftop space that could be used for equipment or other purposes. To get the maximum benefit of free natural lighting, you need to dedicate 7 to 10 percent of your roof to skylights. That’s space that can’t be used for things like rooftop equipment and supports. It also claims space that might be needed for workers to perform roof maintenance. And if you have a small roof, that is going to be a problem!

There’s no doubt that skylights contribute to a building’s aesthetic appeal, and they can also reduce the cost of electrical lighting. But they have drawbacks, too, and building managers have to consider both aspects to make an informed decision. When considering skylights as part of your building’s future, remember to think about the hidden costs, like increased roof maintenance, heating and cooling, and safety precautions.

You Can Influence Codes and Standards

As associate executive director of the Washington, D.C.-based EPDM Roofing Association (ERA), I focus a great deal of my time and energy on the codes and standards that regulate or guide the roofing business. In the current environment, driven by constant upgrades in technology, as well as the need to save energy, these codes—and the standards that often inform them—seem to be undergoing steady revision. Believe it or not—and the word “geek” does come to mind—I find participating in this process extremely interesting. In fact, following and sometimes influencing emerging codes and standards is among the most important responsibilities of my job.

I’ll be the first to admit that a detailed review of a standards manual is probably not anyone’s idea of exciting reading. But given the importance of codes and standards to the construction industry, we ignore them at our own risk.

For a start, what’s the difference between a code and a standard? Ask enough people in the roofing industry and you will get a variety of answers. But generally, codes are the “top-tier” documents, providing a set of rules that specify the minimum acceptable level of safety for manufactured, fabricated or constructed objects. They frequently have been enacted into local laws or ordinances and noncompliance can result in legal action. Standards, on the other hand, establish engineering or technical requirements for products, practices, methods or operations. They literally provide the nuts and bolts of meeting code requirements. If codes tell you what you have to do, standards tell you how to do it. Frequently, standards—especially “voluntary consensus standards”—are the precursors for what becomes law years down the road.

ERA has represented the manufacturers of EPDM roofing for more than a decade. Through the years, we have learned the importance of interfacing with standard-setting and regulatory bodies. One of our first, and most important, learning experiences was working with the Northeast and mid-Atlantic states when they issued regulations designed to achieve federally mandated air-quality standards. (See the article in Roofing’s September/October 2014 issue, page 58.) The initial regulations, which lowered the amount of VOCs in many roofing products, were based on those used in southern California and incorporated provisions that were effective in the climactic and market conditions of that state. But states in the affected areas, from Virginia to Maine, confronted a situation where the new regulations threatened to bring the roofing industry to a sudden halt. In some instances, no adhesives and sealants were available to meet the new standards. And the new products, when they became available, would need to be effective in very cold climates totally unlike those on the West Coast.

ERA worked with officials throughout the impacted areas, helping to create “phase-in” schedules that would give industry enough time to develop products to meet the new standards. In state after state, the local regulators welcomed our input. Our point-of-view was based on a deep understanding of the business needs of our industry. Just as important, we understood the science behind the proposed regulations and could work with the regulatory bodies to ensure the air-quality needs and the needs of the roofing industry were met.

This experience has informed our ongoing approach to code-setting and regulatory bodies. Since our work with the states setting VOC standards, we have invested staff time and resources to stay current with and even ahead of proposals that would impact our members and their customers. We have testified before the South Coast Air Quality Management District in California on its proposal to limit VOCs. ERA has organized an ad-hoc coalition to successfully oppose an unnecessarily stringent proposal to require reflective roofs in the Denver area. And our organization is currently providing input to Atlanta-based ASHRAE’s efforts to clarify its regulation regarding air leakage. This issue—of great importance to the roofing industry—relates to other work being done in ASHRAE working groups and subcommittees on thermal bridging, as well as the definition of walls and wall assemblies. ASHRAE has convened an “Air Leakage Work Group” whose charge is to review the pertinent sections of Standard 90.1 and make recommendations for revising it. ERA staff will be present at this group’s meetings and will once again provide input based on the expertise of our members.

When I work with code-setting and regulatory groups, I am reminded of that very familiar saying, “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.” Based on our work at ERA, I’d like to revise that. Your skill at “playing the game” will definitely influence whether you win or lose. Our experience tells us that staying involved with regulatory groups and providing them with input based on firm science and field experience leads to a winning outcome for the roofing business.

OSHA vs. State Rules: Residential Fall Protection

The Washington, D.C.-based Occupational Safety and Health Administration has demanded some states that administer their own occupational safety and health agencies and enforce state-specific workplace rules adopt federal provisions related to residential fall protection. California, Kentucky, Oregon and Washington are four such states with provisions for residential fall protection that differ from federal OSHA’s. One of the federal requirements is that fall protection is required in roofing work at heights of 6 feet or greater. OSHA has singled out this requirement as one that the states must meet or OSHA will take over enforcement of all construction workplace rules.

Government statistics indicate state plan states that use a risk-based approach, where roof height is one of many factors considered when developing regulations, generally experience lower worker death and injury rates than comparable federal states.

The recent release of initial workplace fatality numbers by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Washington, for 2014 has again brought the issue to the forefront and prompted the following Jan. 29, 2016, response from NRCA CEO William A. Good to Dean McKenzie, OSHA’s acting director of construction.

Dear Mr. McKenzie:

We are, of course, incredibly disappointed that you choose to carry on with your plan to impose federal rules, developed over the objections of the roofing industry, on states that have had considerable success with their own fall protection regulations. Those regulations have been developed, for the most part, with the ac- tive involvement of health and safety agencies, management and labor in the affected states. What’s more, in most of the states you cite as being deficient in meeting the federal “effectiveness” standard, the rate of accidents and fatalities from falls in construction is consistently better than it is in comparable states under federal OSHA’s jurisdiction.

And what’s even more incredible is that since federal OSHA unilaterally changed the rules for residential fall protection, the number of fatal falls has actually increased. OSHA’s promise that the cancellation of STD 3.1 in 2010 would make roofing workers safer has delivered the opposite result with 61 roofing workers killed by falls in 2012, 66 in 2013 and 69 in 2014. And yet OSHA marches on, unaffected by the facts.

How you can consistently ignore the data and instead rely on a vague definition of “effectiveness” is frankly beyond me, and makes absolutely no sense. It seems to me that an effective safety standard is one that actually works to protect workers from falls, rather than one that meets certain regulatory language.

In your letter you cite “standards that permit, for example, certain work to be performed at heights of 15 to 20 feet without positive fall protection.” As we have argued previously, the height of the roof is not the only issue that needs to be considered for effective fall protection. Rather, job-specific fall-protection assessment should take into account the type of building, the slope of the roof and the type of roofing materials being installed. This strikes me as being remarkably similar to the approach to safety Dr. Michaels, among others, has long advocated, but this approach is missing from OSHA’s heavy-handed efforts to impose federal rules on states.

In addition, if height were indeed the only issue, then perhaps you can explain why certain scaffolding operations are allowed up to 10 feet without fall protection, and why certain steel erection activities are allowed up to 30 feet without fall protection. And perhaps you can also explain why, over the period from 2010 to 2013, Texas had an average fatal construction fatality rate of 11.63, while California’s was 5.95.

The tragedy, of course, is that this isn’t just an academic conversation. Lives are at stake, and more are being lost in those states OSHA is responsible for than in those that have developed workable and, yes, effective, regulations.

I understand you choose not to meet with us to discuss this further. While I’m not surprised, I am left to wonder what is reasonably to be done to make roofing jobs safer. OSHA’s approach has made things worse, and you seem intent on just doing more of the same.

Sincerely,
William A. Good, CAE
Chief Executive Officer
National Roofing Contractors Association

Four Lessons from the Worst Catastrophic Roofing Errors

From dog shaming to funny videos, it seems to be human nature to giggle at other people’s mistakes. But a dog that ate the toddler’s crayons and is now pooping rainbows is one thing. Roof management mistakes can be dangerous, inconvenient and incredibly expensive. Let’s take a look at some of the biggest roofing disasters of the last few years and see what we can learn from them:

1. Risk vs. Reward

When Hurricane Wilma roared into Miami-Dade County, Florida, most people thought the area was prepared. After all, building codes at the time required the ability to withstand winds of 146 mph, significantly faster than Wilma’s highest recorded winds. Imagine a building owner’s surprise when his roof peeled right off the building. As it turned out, the problem wasn’t with the roof itself but with the way it was secured—or wasn’t secured—to the walls. Despite the fact that building codes required a continuous cleat, there wasn’t one in use. In an attempt to save the $3,000 it would have cost to use the continuous cleat, the building owner set himself up to sustain damages of around $400,000. From a roof management risk versus reward perspective, that decision was a really big “oops”.

2. Don’t Cut Corners

A building in North Carolina also lost its roof to high winds. The failure was caused by insufficient anchoring of the roof. During construction, the wood blocking for the roof had been attached directly to the top row of bricks. When the building was reconstructed, the new design called fora bond beam and anchor bolts. Those simple adjustments created a roof that was ready to withstand winds much higher than those that spelled doom for the original roof.

3. Never Run Before You Can Walk

Green roofs are all the rage, and that trend is practically guaranteed to continue for years to come. However, businesses have been incorporating sustainability into their plans so quickly there hasn’t always been time to identify best practices. Sloped green roofs are a good example. The problem with these is a lack of proper drainage and an inadequate growing medium. When those two ingredients are combined with rain or snow, the result can be a load that far exceeds the weight the roof is designed to handle, which can lead to leaks, mudslides and, in the worst cases, roof collapse. For example, in St. Charles, Ill., a green roof collapsed after a heavy snowstorm, causing extensive (and expensive) damage to the facility.

4. Not All Materials Are Equal

During the Big Dig construction project in Boston, a section of ceiling collapsed, killing one person and halting work (and causing traffic backups) for nearly a year. The problem was deemed to be the system of anchors and epoxy used in the construction process. Or, more accurately, the inadequacy of those items. The anchors were shorter than required, and the epoxy used to fasten the anchors to the concrete was below standards. As with the roof damaged by Hurricane Wilma, this is a situation in which shortcuts—in this case, subpar materials—resulted in costs that far exceeded what it would have cost to do the job right from the beginning.

The most striking thing about these catastrophic roof management failures is that the factors that led to them aren’t all that unusual. The losses weren’t the result of inconceivably stupid mistakes that leave the industry asking, “How could that have happened?” What’s striking is that shortcuts like these are far too common. It’s just that, most of the time, nothing happens. The roof never fails, so the shortcuts are never discovered.

However, when something does go wrong, careers are destroyed, businesses and individuals go bankrupt, and lives are lost or ruined. Don’t gamble with shortcuts when it comes to roof management. It’s possible that nothing will ever go wrong. If it does, however, things will never be the same and it’s just not worth it.

How to Choose a Roofing Contractor

The greatest challenge for anyone responsible for any physical asset is how to keep it operating properly. The key is finding qualified maintenance providers to solve problems that are beyond our own abilities. With the advent of the Internet, our options are limitless. If we need a doctor, we Google the type of doctor we need and get a list of options. The same can be said for all other types of goods and services. But with more options, are we really getting more quality from these numerous choices?

Unfortunately, people and companies can make any claim on the Internet and, as long as they don’t slander anybody else, it’s perfectly legal. I get emails every day claiming to have a cure for cancer, obesity, hemorrhoids, etc., and all I have to do is log on to the website, enter my credit card number and the “cure” will be sent to my house within 72 hours.

Everyone knows this is a hoax, right? Yet more and more of these websites keep popping up every day. Clearly someone is falling for these frauds or there wouldn’t be any! But I digress. The topic of this article is “how to choose a roofing contractor”, not “how not to get ripped off using the Internet.”

Preliminary Questions

Consequently, if I have a roof leak, the first thing I will do is conduct a web search for roofing contractors in my area. I will probably look for ones located closest to my facility. I will call the company and say something like: “I have a roof leak. Do you fix those?” The contractor will probably say, “Yes, I can fix leaks.” I will then say: “Great! When can you be here?” And the rest is, as they say, history. Hopefully, the contractor I selected is licensed, bonded, insured and competent. As you can see, I didn’t ask any of those questions, so I really don’t know. But he must be good; he was listed on the Internet!

If he’s not licensed, there is probably a pretty good reason why he isn’t—he’s not a real contractor, just kind of a handyman. If he’s not bonded and there is a problem with the work he performs and he refuses to fix his mistakes, I will have no recourse to take legal action because he doesn’t have a bonding company backing his work. If he isn’t insured and he falls off my roof, he can sue me personally for causing him bodily injury.

Before any contractor comes out to your facility, make sure the company is licensed, bonded and insured. Always ask for the license number, bonding company name and number, and personal liability insurance policy number. Once you get this information, verify these numbers and providers. I once had a contractor give me his license number only to find out the number was made up! If the information checks out, set up an appointment for the contractor to evaluate your problem. Don’t set the appointment and then check out the company’s qualifications. If a roofer comes out, climbs on your roof and falls off without liability insurance, you are on the hook paying for “Mr. FastRoofs Inc.’s” medical bills or worse: he sues you for not having fall protection on your roof—not that you should know what that is—and rest assured you will pay his medical and legal bills!

Once you have determined a certain level of legitimacy, you should also check what other types of certifications the contractor has attained. I would determine whether he or she belongs to the Better Business Bureau. This is no guarantee that these companies won’t have problems, but it does show a willingness to be responsible once the work has been completed. Also, determine whether the company belongs to trade associations. A roofing contractor should be “a member in good standing” and belong to the Rosemont, Ill.-based National Roofing Contractors Association or one of its affiliates.

Don’t assume just because a company says it belongs to a trade association it does. I once dealt with a painting contractor that listed on its website belonging to the Painting and Decorating Contractors of America, Maryland Heights, Mo. I called the trade association and learned the contractor did not belong at all! In other words, if a contractor makes a claim, make a call and check it out—no matter what!

The Proposal

Once you have properly vetted your prospective contractor, call him and describe your problem in the most basic terms. Most people want to solve the problem themselves and then just have the contractor effect the change.

Customers often will call and say: “I have a lot of problems on my roof. Can you come out and give me a quote for a new roof?” I am sure many of you are reading this and are completely incredulous this happens but, be honest, it’s human nature to not want to seem ignorant. As a matter of fact, I find those with the most experience are quickest to opine on their problems when they really don’t have a clue as to what’s wrong with their roof.

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Share This List with Customers to Help Them Prepare Their Roofs for Winter

We at Greenawalt Roofing Co. understand how busy the winter months can be. We also know that with a backload of work from the fall combined with cold or extreme weather conditions and shorter days, even the simplest jobs can take twice as long. Unfortunately, customers do not always know this and expect their issue to be fixed as soon as possible.

Greenawalt Roofing Co., Landisville, Pa., recommends installing Air Vent Inc.’s ShingleVent II, which, when combined with intake vents, provides an efficient and effective ventilation system to avoid ice dams.

Greenawalt Roofing Co., recommends installing Air Vent Inc.’s ShingleVent II, which, when combined with intake vents, provides an efficient and effective ventilation system to avoid ice dams. PHOTO: AIR VENT INC.

Help your customers by educating them about how to prevent and recognize potential problems before cold weather arrives. You can communicate with them directly, mail them a flyer or make a personal connection by email. Let them know how they can do a simple and safe roof inspection, or schedule an appointment for your team to do a professional and more thorough one. Finding trouble areas before they turn into full-fledged problems will not only save your customers money in the long run, which they will appreciate, but it can also help them avoid an emergency during the winter months.

Here are a few things you can tell your customers to do to be proactive for the upcoming winter months:

1. Do a quick inspection of the overall roof condition. Depending on the pitch of your roof, you may be able to see these things from the ground or by using binoculars. If you find some issues or cannot safely view the majority of your roof, we recommend you call us or a licensed roofing company for a thorough inspection to see what can be done before the harsh winter arrives.

Look for any damage that may have been done since the last time you took a look, and keep an eye out for some of the following warning signs:

  • Damaged shingles
  • Missing shingles
  • Loss of granulation
  • Decayed shingles
  • Wind damage
  • Broken or cracked shingles

2. Check wall or step flashing. Flashing are the metal coverings over the joints or seams where your roof intersects with other exterior home systems. Flashing prevents water from reaching the underlayment and from penetrating the exterior envelope and affecting your home’s ceilings and walls. If your flashing is unsealed, degraded, missing or damaged, then water will find a way underneath the metal strips. Although generally not a catastrophic system failure, it often shows up only after it is too late to prevent, so it is important to make sure these are intact for the winter.

3. Take a look at your skylights. This is another place where you should make sure the flashing is intact. Piled up snow and icy rains can put a lot of pressure on skylights and the flashing around their seals.

4. Review your chimney and other vent-pipe flashing. These can also become quick channels for water to enter the home. Accumulated snow slows water drainage off the roof, providing extra time for water to enter the home through even the smallest hole or crack, so it is important that these flashing are intact prior to the start of winter.

5. Inspect your attic. Your attic is a safe way to look for roofing issues, assuming there is a safe and easily accessible entrance into your attic space. Be sure to look for any water damage, dark spots, sagging wood and even daylight coming through the roof decking.

6. Clean your gutters! Gutters clear of debris do a great job of diverting water away from your house and protecting your home and foundation from the effects of water pooling. Although it is important year round to keep your gutters cleaned, it is especially important during the winter months. Because autumn has just ended, you probably have more leaves in the gutters than any other time of the year.

Try to keep your gutters clean throughout the winter, as well. They can easily become clogged. If your gutters are clogged, water (melted snow) begins to freeze and expand, which can cause severe damage to the fascia, causing the entire system to fail. The water also could start to freeze underneath the shingles, creating an ice dam.

7. Watch for ice dams. Winter’s most common roofing issues are ice dams. Ice dams form when snow sits on the roof and goes through a melt and freeze sequence. As the snow melts and flows down the roof and reaches the freezing surface below, it refreezes, causing the ice dam to form, which can damage shingles and underlayment. Seeking a release, the water backed up behind the ice dam seeps into cracks in the home’s exterior, leading to structural damage and mold growth.

Unfortunately, ice dams are a result of several factors and often require a licensed professional to remedy the problem. Inadequate insulation, poor ventilation and a combination of cold temperatures and sunny days lead to ice dams. You can prevent ice dams by ensuring your roof is adequately ventilated.

Helping your regular customers understand the steps they can take to avoid winter emergencies will give them peace of mind going into the colder months and, hopefully, allow you to focus on cold-weather emergencies. Plus, you may find them even more willing to send work your way when things calm down because of the trust you have built with them.

Why My Teams Install Stone-coated Metal Roofs

Recently, a father and his adult son, both from Chatham, Ontario, Canada, contacted my company Metal Roof Outlet in Courtland, Ontario. Both needed to have roofs on their homes replaced. They chose stone-coated metal roofs. We installed the son’s roof first; then went to the father’s home. Before we began work, the dad told us, “My son had a very nice-looking home before. Now he has a castle.”

An installation team from Metal Roof Outlet, Courtland, Ontario, Canada, installs an Allmet stone-coated metal roof on a suburban Toronto home.

An installation team from Metal Roof Outlet, Courtland, Ontario, Canada, installs an Allmet stone-coated metal roof on a suburban Toronto home.


That perfectly sums up the kind of comments I hear from customers who have had our teams install stone-coated metal roofs on their homes. They like the roofs’ longevity, energy efficiency and maintenance freedom.

Above all, though, is the roofs’ “wow” factor that is apparent from the street or up close. People don’t even fully recognize it’s metal because of the roof’s stone finish. The stone coating provides a very natural look. It’s a warmer appearance that blends in with the surroundings, never looking artificial or manufactured

Customers respond well to stone-coated metal’s colors, which come in a wide variety. The stones’ colors are blended to arrive at the end shade. Customers with single-color siding typically prefer a roof of variegated colors. But if they have a busier brick exterior, they will go with a solid-color roof for contrast.

Whenever I’m working with a prospective customer, we will send out a sample to put up against the customer’s brick or siding. It’s hard to see the color in the hand. But step back a bit, and the customer can see that color.

Metal Roof Outlet, Courtland, Ontario, Canada, installs Allmet stone-coated metal roofs because of the roofs’ many benefits.

Metal Roof Outlet, Courtland, Ontario, Canada, installs Allmet stone-coated metal roofs because of the roofs’ many benefits.


The durability of the roofs is another selling point. The majority of people coming into our showroom are replacing their roofs every 12 years. They’re tired of replacing their roofs and they tell us they just want to do it once and be done with it. When you put on a stone-coated metal roof, you know it’s there for the life of the home. Over the long-term, it will be more cost-effective. Instead of replacing a typical roof three or four times over 50 years, you install this roof just once.

After the initial cost, you’ve improved the look of the home; you have increased the energy efficiency; and you’ve made sure you have very, very little maintenance. Other than removing the leaves from the valleys and gutters, there’s little else to do.

Many of the homeowners who choose a stone-coated metal roof do so because they intend to remain in their homes for decades. Thirty years ago, it was typically older couples that chose stone-coated metal roofs. These were people who’d saved the money and liked the look. Today, it’s often younger homeowners—people in their 30s and 40s—who choose stone-coated metal. They are fixing up their homes with the intention of staying in them.

When I think back, I can’t think of any one particular roofing project where stone-coated metal stood out as a real problem solver. That’s because it solves problems on every roof we do.

Hiring to Meet Our Corporate Culture Keeps Our Business Growing and Expanding

Saratoga Roofing & Construction, a family-owned commercial roofing and construction contractor based in Oklahoma City, is raising the bar in the industry by being unique in how it does business. Not only is the company family-owned, but it also is a faith-based company and the entire organization is built around that philosophy.

We hire only the best and brightest in the industry, but we make sure they are a “good fit” with the culture of our company. You won’t find many commercial roofing and construction companies that have the same kind of “team” concept as we do.

Ultimately, corporate culture is the most important factor in our entire organization. Whether we are challenged within our administration or face difficult obstacles on the roof, at Saratoga Roofing & Construction everyone must be eager to help. Corporate culture can also be a constantly changing variable, so when we look at hiring new employees we search wholeheartedly for the next positive culture transition and hire an individual who fits that approach with their core values, hard work ethic and desire for team excellence.

We look for individuals with the ability to troubleshoot unforeseeable occurrences. Team members must find logical, effective and efficient means of resolution without constantly requiring help from others. We focus on finding individuals with the following attributes:

  • High personal values, morals and ethics.
  • Strong, team-inspiring personal abilities.
  • Extreme positivity and determination.
  • A “can-do” mindset.
  • Real life skills, attributes and experience that cater to the variables in which Saratoga Roofing & Construction operates on a daily basis.

Achieving this has meant not always hiring the people with the most experience, but hiring people that fit the culture of the company and then investing in industry training to help them become the most knowledgeable. What that means for Saratoga Roofing & Construction is we hire employees that offer only the best customer service. Customer satisfaction is key to staying in business.

Our customers are the reason we get to come to work every day. We believe that hiring for customer service is critical for creating and maintaining a powerful, encouraging workplace. Many times, hiring for different attributes results in a person not properly learning the methods and procedures that this company is specifically crafted around. It can cause other employees to be influenced by negative mentalities, which does not give customer service and success a fighting chance. It makes a world of difference to hire employees who, by natural order, can adhere comfortably to our culture and choose to embrace such culture as a determined key player for our team.

Saratoga Roofing & Construction has faced some changes to our business over the years—going from residential to commercial and expanding across the country. One thing that has stayed consistent is our corporate culture and dedication to customer service and hiring team members that have a “whatever it takes” attitude. This has allowed us the success we have had and the ability to keep growing and expanding our business.

Staying true to our beliefs has paid off. As we entered our 16th year in business in 2015, Saratoga Roofing & Construction was ranked No. 50 on the Inc. 500 list of fastest-growing companies and the fastest-growing privately owned construction company in the U.S. Saratoga Roofing & Construction also has been in the top two of the Metro 50 in Oklahoma City for the past two years. The Metro 50, which is an award given by the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber, acknowledges companies that demonstrate positive growth in revenues; growth in the number of employees; creativity/entrepreneurship; and business development through the expansion of facilities, customer base or markets.

Nationally, Saratoga Roofing & Construction employs 485 people, has completed projects in 28 states and is working on more than 70 projects nationwide. We are continuing to grow and expand our business—and there is no plan to slow down anytime soon. We know we’ll continue to achieve success as long as we remain true to our values.