Working With Roof Consultants From a Roofer’s Perspective

May 15, 2002

16 • Interface September 2002
The Evans Companies have been working with roofing
consultants since the early 1980s. This business relationship
has been a very important part of the company’s
growth and success. This article is intended to give an overview
of the contractor/consultant experience and a list of suggestions
for each party.
During regional and national contractor association meetings
and while competing on projects around the country, we share
many discussions with professional roofing contractors who have
strong opinions regarding their view of the contractor and consultant
relationship. Generally, the contractors who have a positive
view of this relationship (including ourselves) are attracted
to consultants who carefully pre-qualify roofing contractors for
their projects. These consultants value the experience a professional
roofing contractor brings to the project.
Usually those contractors who disfavor the consultant relationship
have difficulty with the loss of control of the project
and the separation of their direct relationship with the owner.
Many have had an unfavorable experience with inspections, disagreements
about specifications, and difficulty following the
chain of command.
The level of professionalism within the roof consultant community
is as diversified as other professions such as legal or medical.
Similarly, the professionalism displayed by roofing
contractors and the competency of their field associates vary
widely. We have been fortunate to work with some of the industry’s
best consultants and design firms because of our experience
with complicated deck replacement projects over occupied
spaces. The owners usually screen their designers very carefully,
and the designer subsequently takes great interest in pre-qualifying
the contractors. These projects are risky, and there is little
room for error.
There have been instances where we have chosen not to bid
projects issued by consultants, but not necessarily because of the
consultant’s competency or technical capabilities. The issue is
that other invited bidders were not pre-qualified. This often
allows six to a dozen roofers of various levels of competency to
submit bids. We choose to invest our time in responsible opportunities
where all the players are pre-qualified and where the
chance to be the successful bidder is more favorable with a level
field of roofing contractors.
We would offer the following recommendations to each party.
Recommendations to roofers
• Qualify roof consultants by asking other contractors
about their experiences with them. Try to arrange a faceto-
face meeting with the consultant before pre-qualifying
to gain an understanding of his or her requirements and
the compatibility of your corporate cultures.
• Work with or through the consultant beyond the requirements
of the specification and design, toward the goal of
providing a positive roofing experience for the owner.
• Working for a consultant is not about losing control but
about meeting the requirements of the specification,
design, and contract, and providing the building owner
with a quality roof.
• Recognize and accept that the owner has hired the consultant
to be his representative.
• Understand the chain of command and always work out
issues and problems through the consultant. At the same
time, remember that your contract is with the owner.
• There will be problems in any project. The mark of a professional
is how well, promptly, and responsibly he
resolves the problem for the customer. Deal with problems
in a timely, professional, and responsible manner through
the consultant. When you promise something, do it!
• Clarify any concerns before the bid; do not wait until the
contract has been awarded.
BY KEVIN J. KENNEDY AND WILLIAM FISCHER
September 2002 Interface • 17
• Read the documents carefully to understand your responsibilities
and the cost of performing them. Fulfill the
requirements of the design specification and contract
documents.
• Don’t try to alter the design to be in accordance with the
way you would do it. Perform all work in accordance
with the design specifications and drawings unless you
believe there is an error and then bring it to the attention
of the consultant.
• Agree verbally and document in writing any changes so
all parties are in agreement.
• Make sure that all members of the team have read and
understand the consultant’s specifications before the preconstruction
meeting.
• The content of the daily reports should be a true reflection
of the work completed. Report on the positive. Do
not mention minor negative issues that should be
resolved on the roof with the consultant’s representative.
Recommendations to Consultants
• Show professional respect and common courtesy to other
members of the team.
• Remember the contractor is part of your team contracted
to perform the work for the owner.
• Make all requirements very clear and in writing.
• Write a complete specification. Don’t rely on the contractor
to interpret information that should be included in the
specification. For example, if you want a roofing system
that complies with FM 1-90, then provide a design for a
FM 1-90 roofing system.
• Pre-qualify safety for contractors:
1. Require a letter on the insurance carrier’s letterhead
with the contractor’s experience modification rate
(EMR) for the last three years and disqualify any contractor
above a certain threshold. The baseline average
is 1.0. Most private owners require a rating below
1.0 as a minimum requirement.
2. Request a copy of the contractor’s safety manual
to ensure the company has a program in place.
3. Ensure before the bid that the contractor can provide
the required insurance and bonding coverages.
4. When considering a contractor for the project, ask
to have a complete OSHA 300A Log faxed that
day. If the contractor is committed to safety and
the required recordkeeping is done, then this
information will be readily available. From that
log, the “Recordable Incident Rate” and “Lost
Work Day Incident Rate,” which should be below
the average of 5.25, can be computed.
• Specify the installation of a perimeter guardrail system
for fall protection instead of the OSHA minimum
requirement of “safety monitoring.”
• Have thorough pre-bid and pre-job meetings to
review the exact scope of work and to work out any
problems beforehand.
• Consider the recommendations of contractors if they
are in the owner’s best interests.
• Do not direct the contractor’s personnel on the job.
• Recognize that all contractors operate differently, and
some procedures that seem unnecessary may be done
for a good reason. Allow the contractor to run his
project the way he sees fit. Judge the contractor’s
results, not his means and methods.
• Don’t try to schedule the contractor’s work and determine
how many workers are required. Instead, provide
a milestone in the bidding documents for the contractor
to achieve an amount and hold him responsible if
he doesn’t achieve this requirement.
• Process timely pay requests, change orders, etc.
• Process all submittals in a timely manner.
• Return all contractor’s phone calls, e-mails, and communication
in a timely manner. 
Kevin Kennedy is the Executive
Vice President of the Evans Service
Company. He is an industry member
of RCI and a founding board member
of the New York State Roofing
Contractors Association. Kennedy
authored an article entitled “A Guide
to Roofing Contractor Pre-
Qualification,” published in the
March 1995 issue of Interface. Mr.
Kennedy, William Fischer, and Jeff
Manser were authors for a presentation
at the 1999 North American Conference on Roofing
Technology in Toronto and the 2000 RCI Convention in
Reno about their corporate Total Quality Management
Program. Kevin may be contacted at kjkennedy@evansservice.
com.
William Fischer is the Vice
President of the Evans Service
Company. He has managed over
300 major roofing projects in 28
states across the United States. The
Evans Service Company, Inc. is the
corporate holding company for the
Charles F. Evans Company, Inc. and
six CFE, Inc. operating roofing companies
on the East Coast. The privately-
owned company ranks in the
top 20 roofing contractors and has
won national recognition with several industry awards, including
the RSI “Roofing Contractor of the Year,” SPRI’s
“Contractor Achievement Award,” RCM’s “Most Intriguing
Contractor Award,” and RSI’s “Metal Roofing Project of the
Year.” Bill may be contacted at bfischer@evans-service.com.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
KEVIN KENNEDY WILLIAM FISCHER