What to iron out before the job starts:
There are a number of issues that should be discussed when getting a proposal and then again after the contractor is selected. When discussing a re-roofing job with a contractor the following will affect the price they quote – so it is important to decide:
1. Where the roofing materials will be loaded onto the roof – will it be a crane, helicopter, etc. (The easier this is for the roofer the lower the price)
2. Where and how will existing materials or trash be removed from the roof (The more you accommodate the roofer the lower will be the price. Be aware there are rules about throwing debris off a roof – over a certain height a chute is necessary or it can be removed with a crane)
3. What protection, if any, is needed underneath the roof deck to protect from falling debris (this can be a significant expense – more later)
4. Where the dumpster will be located on the property.
5. Are there hazardous materials in the existing roof(usually asbestos – more later)
6. Are there special hours or areas where work inside the building cannot be interrupted and how does that affect the roofing.
7. Are there special security procedures to follow.
8. Will the roofing produce fumes that might be pulled in by active roof top units and what can be done about it.
9. Is there cell tower equipment present (more later).
Other items to find out:
1. What are the contractor’s insurance coverages
2. What are the payment terms – which usually can be negotiated.(Remember the debt the roofer owes the manufacturer/distributer for the materials that get loaded on the roof starts when they are shipped and this is a substantial expense).
3. Approximately when will the job start and end
4. Are there any other special parking requirements
5. Are there any special products which have long lead times (custom skylights, custom metal or metal colors, etc.)
6. What are the colors for the perimeter metal.
Unless the company that uses/used the building has dumped toxic material on the roof the main concern would be asbestos. If there is an asphalt based roof on the building the asbestos fibers could be either in the field of the roof or in the flashings around the penetrations or at the perimeter. Finding that out requires taking samples to a lab. If the tests come back positive a licensed abatement contractor needs to get involved. Some roofers are also licensed abatement contractors. If asbestos is found before the roofing bids are done then the additional removal costs can be identified up front and will likely be less costly than if found during roofing.
If the existing roofing is not being removed then interior protection is less necessary. If there is a dropped ceiling in place then interior protection is less necessary. If the roof is being removed and there is no drop ceiling then interior protection may be necessary. This typically involves hanging sheets of plastic from the joists over the work area. There are 3 options when interior protection is necessary – do it yourself, let the roofer do it, or hire an interior protection company to do it. Your company’s maintenance people, overworked as they usually are, may be the best people to do this. If the roofer or another company does this it will add to the cost of the project. Any loose items attached to the roof should be removed or secured. The most common problem is florescent light bulbs loosening and dropping due to deck vibrations caused by moving materials around or other roofing work occurring. Another issue is wires that are under the roof deck. If the roofing involves driving fasteners through the deck it is possible for a wire to be damaged. An attempt should be made to identify the wires prior to roofing although in some cases avoiding them can be difficult. Give your electrician a heads up that their services may be necessary to recover from a punctured wire.
If something happens on your property you do not want to be first litigated against if a lawsuit occurs. A commercial roofing contractor should be paying lots of money for insurance protection to make sure that does not happen. Insurance premiums are one of the reasons why commercial roofing costs so much. The contractor should have general liability, workman’s comprehensive, employers liability, automobile and umbrella coverage. You can ask for an insurance certificate to verify coverage with the proposal. You should demand an insurance certificate with the legal entities involved named on it before work starts. If you have questions check with your insurance agent.
Cell tower equipment:
More building owners are renting their rooftops to wireless cellular companies. These should be shut off during roofing as repeated exposure to these signals in the concentrations that occur next to the equipment is dangerous for the roofers. Contact the cell companies in advance to find out the details for turning these things off during roofing.