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Tuesday, June 8, 2010

It's Hard to be a Professional Roofing Contractor.

My readers know we sell systems and not roofs. Those systems need parts and they're getting harder to find.
Today I wanted Energy Cap from GAF. I wanted an energy efficient roof. None of my suppliers had it. I needed it today because a tree decided to fall a couple of days ago and crash a home. Rains coming. We rebuilt the structure but the roofing I want is all over GAF's website and not in it'd distributor's warehouses. The waiting line is weeks to get into GAF so I had to improvise.
I made my own. By taking the SBS modified they make and bumping the system with the TopCoat EnergyStar coating I was able to achieve my desired effect.
Everyday we need so specific intake vent, or a particular ridge, maybe a peculiar fastener, or a weird underlayment. I feel like Odysseus, wandering around the Mediterranean running into Sirens and Lotus Eaters and who knows what beasties.
I want what I ordered and not some product that some warehouse guy summarily decided to substitute because the other roofers don't care.
For the product du jour I called supply housed in Dallas, Garland, Grand Prairie, Irving, and Carrollton. I called my GAF rep Jo Anderson, a lovely lady who really does her job. Ended up on the roof improv.
I really feel sorry for the good roofers in Oklahoma City who want to hold onto the old ways and do a great job. Their watching their state capital being raped by gypsy roofers who frankly my dear don't give a damn. Their roofers are excited because of all the work. Other contractors are bribing their help with higher pay and lax standards. "Why we'll reuse the old felt." I've never been able to interpret those words. Did they pull it up, repair it, and put it back down? No chance in Odysseus's Hades.
The Master Elites in Oklahoma City that are perfectionists will want their ShingleMate felt and "Z" Ridge but it will be in short supply.
The meat and potato roofers, the ones who just color a roof with shingles and don't consider waterproofing part of their long term plan, are slapping down cheap Atlas and Pabco products and don't care anything about warranties. My suppliers say Pabco is not engineered for these hot climes, Hades I say, and that the installers say the granules run off. Atlas doesn't, and never understood in my 31 years as a roofing contractor, what the definition of a warranty is, unless they are fine print experts.
Back to Oklahoma. They are going to get burned by these carpetbaggers and scalawags. Really bad. These people will not be able to sell their homes because of all the scuffing.
When it hailed in west Fort Worth three years ago a vendor I share with Lon Smith told me a story. He was talking with one of their inspectors who complaining his job was meaningless. The guy said he told the roofers to quit scuffing shingles and they said they'd quit and go somewhere else to work if he didn't get out of their way. When he went to Lon Smith's office he was told the roofers were right and to leave them alone.
I've seen it. It is an abomination and a crime. This is what I was told and this is what I've seen. Imagine how the out of towners feel.
After promising to do the job for insurance proceeds they must find a way to cut costs. Due to supply and demand the roofing material distributors and subcontractors are holding their own on pricing. Only in roofing does the price go down when their is more work. So they skimp and skim, ans then skip out.
No felt, metal edge, use old stacks, no new step flashing, which by the way, is the policy of USAA Insurance. They won't pay for it and the suppliers won't give it to me. The roofers want to be paid to install it. USAA wants you to reuse it. No way. It has random holes in it in a critical area of the roof. The carpetbaggers are okay without billing for it. They'll bill for anything that's on the claim but won't spend any time negotiating the price up in order to get the insured all he's entitled too. Just slap it on.
Later the big boys, the ones who do a lot of roofs for nothing, make their money by ripping off their salesmen and roofers, and then go to the wholesaler and offer to pay only half their bill or go bankrupt. My friend at Southern Shingles, who I warned that a storm trooping DeSoto/Duncanville roofer I shall not name, would do this, did it. $800,000.00.
So here I sit doing a few roofs a week with all kinds of neat accessories but having to call and call and then double check our deliveries for the famous last minute auto-induced substitution, the one that can take away a nonprorated 100% material and labor guarantee and possibly a twenty year workmanship and leak guarantee from the manufacturer.
They send Airvent low profiles rather than MasterFlow, Coil nails rather than hand nails, the wrong base sheet or somebody else's modified.
Since the other roofers, for the most part, don't care, why should I? Why should they?
"Jon Wright, he's a pick som bi..."
Yes he is.
Tulsa and Oklahoma are obliterated like Dresden but without the fire. Now the vultures come to further ruin these people's life. Actually they are exacerbate the pain. The damage down the road will be sung about by the bards for generations. Poems, plays, tragedies. At least literature and other cultural forces will be broadened.
In 1992 and 1995 we had to call and call for materials. Most homeowners accepted substitutions. The starving band of zombie roofers kept up the pressure on the hail victims until the owners of damaged roofs longed for the day when a new roof would be the garlic on the door to bring peace at dinnertime. Really, no kidding. Dinnertime is doorbell time. It doesn't matter. Even with a new roof the herds of roofing specialists will graze their way into your life, even after roofing.
My recommendation is to not fix the doorbell when they wear it out. I'm thinking of going to Oklahoma City to sell no soliciting signs. How about "We Shoot Canvassers" or "Roofers not Welcome?"
Everybody take a deep breath and make a careful decision. It's your home we're talking about here. At least the motels and diners are doing well.
If anyone from Oklahoma happens to read this, use a GAF Master Elite or go to Angies' List. A lot of storm'n roofers keep a one line listing in case of a storm, pay off a defunct roofers bill to get the number, or just lie. Imagine that.
Ask for their divers license, local references, or just stick to the plan outlined above. It's hard enough without all storm stuff going one. Now it's chaos.