roof repair

Flat Roof Repair in Needham, MA

We performed this PVC roof repair in Needham, Mass. in October 2011. This was the second time we repaired this 25+ years old Sarnafil PVC flat roof in the last two years. The first time we fixed this roof was exactly two years ago, in October of ’09 – check out our first overview, which covers this roof in particular, and nuances of repairing old PVC flat roofs in general.

Quick Overview of the First Repair

In October of 2009, we fixed this roof for the first time. A contractor was doing some fascia repair work there, and threw some tools onto the roof, creating a hole in the old PVC membrane. We repaired it using new IB PVC flat roofing material. First, we cleaned the old roof with warm water (to remove all dirt and small debris). Next, we rubbed it with acetone and a rough brush, to clean the membrane thoroughly, so the new patch would weld nicely. Then, we welded a PVC patch over the hole, which sealed the roof.

Old patch next to 2 new patches:

Image of PVC Flat Roof Repair in Needham, MA, done by CoolFlatRoof.com

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Flat Roofing Tapered Insulation Questions (from an email conversation with a customer)

This post is actually an email conversation with a customer, regarding Tapered Insulation and our flat roof installation in Cambridge, MA done in the summer of 2010. This email conversation is posted as is with the customer’s permission – the only editing on this post was done to remove any personal information, and spelling :). I thought this would be helpful to our readers, who are interested in tapered insulation and/or have ponding water problems with their flat roofs.

Here is the original roof video, so you have a better idea about this roof:

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Flat Roof Installation in Cambridge, MA

Image of Flat Roof in Cambridge MA

We installed this flat roof near Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts in the summer of 2010. The installation consisted of four separate roof sections on different levels of this house, which at the time was undergoing major renovations inside and out, including total new insulation in walls and between roof rafters, a new heating system with radiant floor heat, new energy efficient windows, and a new IB PVC flat roof (which we installed of course).

The old rubber roof was leaking and we had to remove it, including the wet roof insulation. We installed a new 50-mil white IB Flat Roof, with 4 inches of tapered insulation (4 inches at the highest point and 1 inch at the lowest level). The tapered insulation system was utilized to eliminate ponding water on the two bigger sections of the roof. At the deepest point, there was as much as 2 inches of ponding water, and a puddle with at least 12 feet diameter. This ponding water caused both roof leaks and the roof rafters settlement.

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PVC Roof Repair – Trocal and Sarnafil PVC Roofs Repaired With IB Roofing Material

Update – Oct 26, 2011: Exactly 2 years after the initial Sarnafil PVC Roof repair (read details below) I went back to that roof. This time, there were 17 new holes in the roof. I repaired it once again with IB PVC flat roofing material. Check out the full review of this latest .

Update 2: a Trocal roof repair also reviewed below – a section of that roof has completely shattered over the past winter, and we had replaced it with an IB PVC Flat Roof in the spring of 2011.

Check out the video of this new PVC Roof repair:

Original PVC Roof repair article

PVC roofing is one of the longest lasting flat roof membrane systems, and most PVC roofs installed, will last in excess of 25-30 years. PVC roofing utilizes Hot-Air welding of the seams, which allows the roof to remain watertight for many years, as there is no adhesive to fail ( as is the case with EPDM rubber roofing ). Still, even PVC roofs can leak. Sometimes because of poor installation, and sometimes because of physical damage to the roofing membrane. You may have heard about the Trocal PVC roof failures, which was the only major case of PVC roof failures (below we will explain how Trocal roofs failed).

In this article we will discuss and demonstrate the PVC roof leaks and repair procedure, based on two recent repairs we have done. First, please note that even if your PVC roof leaks – you should not be too worried – PVC roofs are rather easy to repair, and you will rarely need to replace your entire roof.

Trocal PVC Roof Repair – West Hartford, CT – Winter, 2010

As promised – a quick look into why Trocal PVC roofs failed on a massive scale, forcing the company to be sold to another large roofing materials manufacturer.

Image of shattered Trocal PVC roof

Trocal PVC roofing was one of the first commercially available PVC roofs in the US, and they worked great at first. But they had one major drawback – they were unreinforced (today, most PVC membranes are reinforced with polyester scrim sitting between the top and bottom ply of the membrane). When the ambient temperatures were below freezing, a Trocal roof could crack or shatter if you simply stepped on it. Later, all PVC manufacturers switched to reinforced membrane, and some would add special chemicals to increase the elasticity of the membrane. Today, unreinforced PVC membrane is used only for flashing accessories such as inside / outside corners, pipe flashing, etc.

Repair of a Trocal PVC Roof

Image of Trocal PVC Roof Repair

This Trocal roof sustained damage from a falling tree branch in December of 2009, and cracked along the edge. Although the roof was over 20 years old, it was still fully weldable and we were able to repair it with a new IB PVC roofing membrane in Jan. 2010. We removed the damaged section of the roof, cleaned the surface with MEK solution, installed new PVC coated IB Drip Edge metal, and welded a 50-mil white IB roofing membrane. The repair was performed in a 25 degrees outside temperature, so we had to take special care not to damage the rest of the original roof.
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TPO Roofing – Is it Good Or Bad For the Roofing Industry And Building Owners?

Recently, the MRCA (Midwest Roofing Contractors Association) issued a warning bulletin regarding TPO roof failures caused by the sun’s UV rays. You can read more about it in our original TPO Roofing page, as well as my commentary on this bulletin.

At the same time, major roofing distributors are shamelessly pushing TPO into the market and onto the roofing contractors without much regard for home and building owners. Bear in mind that because of low prices and “same cool roof” and “welded seams” qualities as PVC roofing has, TPO is now the fastest growing commercial roofing product.

TPO Roofing Product for Residential Contractors

Here is a good example – pictures below will show you “manufacturer’s” stand showing a TPO roof designed for residential roofing contractors.

Why residential roofing contractors? Well, the way I was told, these are the roofers who can’t afford to spend $12,000 on hot-air welding equipment, so the roof manufacturer created a system that would allow these guys to jump on the TPO band-wagon.

(The TPO stand above, is displaying outside corner flashing, inside corner flashing, pipe boot, and drip-edge details. When I asked about the caulking along the seams, i was told it’s not caulking. It’s seam tape ūüôā )

Here comes the best part! This TPO roof system is put together with … no, not hot air. Seams are primed and a seam tape is used to seal overlaps! ūüėÄ But, it gets better – since there is no uncured flashing material in the TPO world, and these “shingle-bangers” don’t have Liesters (hot air welders) nor do they want to buy them, since the cheapest one – a hand welder – is $450 before tax. So, this manufacturer uses white EPDM uncured flashing for all detail work such as inside / outside corners, posts, curbs (skylights, chimneys, roof hatches, HVAC equipment, etc.). EPDM rubber on TPO – really?
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Green Roofing Contractors – How Are We Different From Other Roofers?

The term “green” has become very popular during the last decade and consequently overused, misused and abused. Anything and everything can be called “green” today. To make money and to attract environmentally-conscious customers, people will call themselves and their products “green”, even when it is just a blatant lie to confuse uneducated consumers. Being a roofing contractor, I will concentrate on roofing products and services. For example, many asphalt shingles manufacturers now offer “cool” and “green”¬† shingle products – to me it’s just a shameless tactic to sell the same NOT-GREEN crap¬†that is painted A different color (usually some shade of white). Excuse me, but asphalts shingles are not green, period! TheY are made with asphalt, can’t be recycled and end up in landfills in 10-15 years.

Since the term green is very vague and can be interpreted in many ways, I’ll offer my vision of “green” – a green roofing contractor to be exact, which describes the way I think and try to operate our roofing business. I want to mention that when I say “green roofing contractor”, it has nothing to do with with a roofing contractor installing green roofs or roof-top gardens. To me a contractor installing roof-top vegetation is a highly-specialized landscaping company, but not a roofing contractor (unless they also install the actual flat roofing membrane to waterproof the building).

Quick navigation in this article:
What is a “green” roofing contractor and how one is different from regular roofing companies.
Learn about green benefits of Metal Roofing and IB Flat Roof

What is a “green” roofing contractor?

In my mind a green roofing contractor is a company that works hard to help protect environment and reduce its energy consumption and green-house gas production or carbon footprint. Sure, almost any company will have a carbon-footprint as it’s nearly impossible to be carbon-neutral, but there are many ways to achieve a much lower carbon footprint. Continue reading

Flat Roof in Lowell, Massachusetts

Replacing an old rubber roof with IB PVC roofing membrane in Lowell, MA.

In the beginning of Dec. 09 we installed a new IB PVC roof in Lowell, MA. This roof replaced an old EPDM rubber roof, which was installed by a hack roofing contractor about two years ago. The roof was failing miserably, due to two factors: poor roofing system design on the part of EPDM, and a horrible installation job by the contractor. I suspect that this contractor had almost zero knowledge about flat roofing and rubber installation. Before I go into the IB roof installation, I want to talk a bit about the two factors mentioned above that contributed to the roof failure.

Rubber roof failure due to EPDM flaws and limitations and faulty installation by a roofing contractor

The roof actually consisted of two sections not connected to each other. One smaller roof in the front of this historic home was about 100 sq. ft. in total, but its shape made using a rubber roof not feasible due to limitations / flaws of rubber roof system design. Another roof section was just over 300 sq. ft. and covered an enclosed porch in the rear of the house. This section had a low slope (about 2 in 12 pitch) and a hip roof design. The failure of both front and rear roof sections was the result of bad installation by the roofing contractor, EPDM membrane’s shrinkage, as well as seam adhesive failure.

When EPDM rubber roofing membrane is installed on a roof connected to a wall of a building, the membrane must be laid down with a flap going up the wall – in essence, the wall flashing and the roof covering must be done with one piece of material to eliminate leaks in the the roof to wall connection. In the case of EPDM, the field sheet of roofing membrane is only held down by glue (which happens to break down after 5-7 years). While in some cases this work out fine, very often the rubber shrinks and pulls away from the wall-to-roof connection point. This results in either the detachment of wall flashing, membrane pulling away from the corner of roof to wall connection, or in some rare cases, when the wall flashing is securely attached to the wall, the shrinking rubber roof may pull the wall with it – for example it can pull a brick parapet wall. Continue reading

Rubber Roof Repair in MA

As you may know, we specialize in the installation of IB roofs Рpremium grade PVC flat roofing membranes, with fusion hot-air welded seams, which ensure permanent lap bond, and as a result, leaks-free performance. At the same time, if you have a rubber roof, which is in fairly decent shape, but has developed some leaks due to lap sealant (epdm rubber glue) failure, we can repair it fairly inexpensively, as compared to installing a new IB membrane, and extend the service life of your rubber roof. Learn more about our rubber roof repair services in MA, CT and RI. We want you to know that although we repair rubber roofs, we will not install one, because for us it is an inferior roofing material with too many limitations and extremely high probability of developing leaks.

Here we will explain you how these repairs work and what you can expect, as well as show a few roof repairs in Massachusetts, which we have done recently. We also recommend that your read our Rubber Roofing guide, which explains the shortcomings of rubber roofs, and why we advise home owners to stay away from EPDM rubber roofing systems due to product limitations and an overwhelming number of dishonest roofing contractors eager to install rubber roofs, without proper knowledge of this system. Instead, we recommend installing IB Flat Roof – a PVC single ply flat roofing system with hot-air welded seams, which will not break down, as rubber roof seams tend to do after 5-7 years.

We also want to let the flat rubber roof owners know that any rubber roof repair or installation must be performed in temperatures above 40 degrees F, as the primer / adhesives will otherwise freeze or be too cold to properly dry/tack, and provide proper adhesion. Unless your roof repair is more of an emergency, we recommend postponing it until warmer temperature sets in. If your roof repair is an emergency, special measures can be taken to keep the adhesive warm, and on a sunny day black rubber will be warmer than outside temperature, so repair can be done even on a colder day. We strongly advise you against installing a new rubber roof in general, and in the winter especially. Read more info on pros and cons of winter roofing. Keep in mind that IB flat roofs can be installed in any temperature, because they are not glued, but hot air welded. Continue reading

Massachusetts Roofing – Recent Flat and Metal Roofs Installed in MA

Update – Dec. 12, 2010 – recently we’ve uploaded a gallery of many metal and flat roofs that we’ve installed in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island – see the roofing jobs gallery. All roofs mentioned below are listed on the roof gallery page, with references to job profiles, and before / after pictures.

Before we go into job reviews, here are a few additional articles you may find useful, when choosing a roof product for your home and a contractor to install it:

How to prevent Ice Dams – a comprehensive guide focused on the rout cause of Ice dams, which is usually a combination of poor ventilation and inadequate insulation in the attic space or between roof rafters. This guide will help homeowners minimize heat leaks in the attic, improve ventilation and eliminate the effects of ice dam leaks by installing a Metal Roof or an IB low-slope roofing membrane.

Low-slope roofs – Overview of the common problems associated with low slope residential roofs, such as shed dormers or roofs on most cape-style homes located in the northern MA. Common issues with such roofs include rotten roof decking / rafters and Ice-dams. Since these roofs are prone to Ice dam leaks, most of the rot damage is an effect of ice dams. Although many roofing contractors will insist that using Ice and Water shield will do the trick, our experience shows that most of the time I&W fails to protect the roof even if the entire roof deck is covered in Ice and Water. Therefore, we believe that the best solution for permanent protection of low-slope roofs and eliminating ice dams is to install a metal roof or an IB flat roofing membrane in conjunction with solving ventilation/insulation issues described in the article above.

Roofs we installed in Massachusetts:

Low slope shed dormer roof in Westminster, MA

Leaking low-slope roof on a shed dormer in Westminster, MA

We installed this roof in early May of 2009. The house is located in a heavily wooded area of central Mass, just north of Mount Wachusett. Westminster, MA is located along Rt. 2, and not very far from the New Hampshire border. These areas get major snowfall in the winter, together with colder temperatures than those in Boston. Consequently, ice dams become a major problem in Westminster, even for high slope roofs. Low slope roofs, such as the one we replaced there, are very likely to have ice dam leaks and other problems such as a rotten roof deck, wet insulation, and mold.

The roof has been leaking for some time around the chimney in the center of the roof and was patched many times with tar, but rather unsuccessfully. Also, due to Ice Dams and roof leaks caused by the ice formation along the roof eaves, the homeowner installed heating cables to stop the Ice dam leaks. These did not help either, and after one more unsuccessful roof repair, the homeowner decided to get an IB roof installed.

Flat roofing Westminster, MA

The homeowner and his cousin, who is a roofer in NH, did the roof tear-off and replaced all rotten plywood decking, to reduce the cost of installation, while we installed the roof itself, insulation, chimney flashing, ridge vent and snow guards (snow retention system).

Note – before we installed the IB membrane, the homeowner’s main concern was to get ice and snow off the roof. After the IB system was installed, our concern was that due to the roof’s pitch, which was about 3 in 12″, the snow and Ice would just slide off the roof in a large pile, crushing down onto the deck and perch bellow it. Also, there was a grill on the deck, which was not removable, since it was tied to a gas line.

IB flat roof westminster massachusetts

The chimney flashing, which may seem like a quick job, actually took about 6-7 hours to properly flash. The reason it turned out to be so time consuming, is that it is located in the center and separates the ridge vent, as well as creeping onto another side of the roof. Due to its position, size and the way an IB roof is installed, it not only took long to work around, but also slowed down the rest of installation. Because the ridge vent butts into the chimney, we had to make sure that not only the ridge vent was raised an inch off the roof level to prevent the wind-driven rain from leaking into the house, but also that it was completely tied to the roof, and flashed up the chimney. Once the chimney flashing was installed, counter flashing reglet had to be installed as well.

Chimney flashing on a flat roof in Wetminster, MA

All in all it took us 3 days to install this roof, though the 3rd day was rather short. What really slowed us down, was the first heat wave of that spring and an overwhelming amount of bugs / flies / mosquitoes in this wooded / swampy area of central Mass.

Roofing membrane used: 50 mil mechanically attached IB PVC flat roofing system.

Insulation used: 1/2″ fan-fold Styrofoam insulation with clear plastic / metal facing.

Total roof square footage: Approximately 500 sq. ft.

Standing seam metal roof in Wayland, MA

Right after the roof in Westminster was installed, we started getting ready for a big metal roofing project, in Wayland, MA. On this job, we installed a .032 Aluminum standing seam metal roof in 1 3/4″ snap lock profile with 16″ wide pan and stiffening ribs. This roof took about two weeks to install, including tear-off of old asphalt shingles, siding removal, replacement of rotten wood replacement, delays with material shipments and the wrong type of flashing being delivered.

Standing Seam metal roof in Wayland, MA

Actually one of the delays happened because our supplier ran out of Grey aluminum coil after 80 % of roofing panels were rolled out of their mobile standing seam roll-forming machine, which was based in Manchester, NH. As the supplier received more aluminum coil 3 days later, he sent a different truck, from New London, CT. As that truck arrived and rolled off the first test panel, just out of curiosity I decided to compare the first batch to the second one. It turned out that the machine on the New London truck was set up to be 1/8″ wider than the Manchester truck. This, over the course of 23 panels gave us an extra 3″ of panel, which converted to two extra panels – 1 1/2″ wide – on either side of the rear roof section and exactly 23 panels on the front. We had to send the truck back and wait for the Manchester, NH truck to deliver and roll out the same coil. Even the guys working for the supplier were not aware of this mismatch between the two machines.

F-Rail rib-mounted snow retention system from Berger snow-guards.
F-Rail rib-mounted snow retention system from Berger snow-guards.

Finally, the Manchester truck delivered the right-width panels and we were able to finish the job without any more delays. The homeowner,Glenn, was also very concerned with snow and ice falling off the roof and damaging the gutters bellow, so we installed a commercial-grade double rail snow retention system to eliminate the possibility of snow falls from the roof.

We already posted a full review of this roof installation on our blog, a few months back, so if you want to know more details, read the standing seam metal roof in Wayland, MA job profile.

IB PVC Roof installation in Boston, MA

leaking rubber roof boston ma

In August of 2009, we completed a rather small, but very tricky and complicated flat roof installation in Boston, on one of the traditional Boston-style homes/buildings, which you can see all along Mass. ave, Comm. ave, as well as Blue Hill avenue, on which this house is located. It was originally an EPDM rubber roof, which had over 50 percent of seams separated due to adhesive failure. The two-tower wood design made this roof much more difficult to repair and our client, Jim, chose to eliminate the hassles of frequent roof repairs and decided to have an 80-mil IB roof installed.

Although this should have been a pretty much straight-forward roof replacement, with rubber tear-off performed first and a new IB roof installed, I sensed that it will not be an easy job. Until we opened up the roof I could not say for sure what obstacles we were going to face, but once we did remove the rubber, we found that the entire length of the masonry parapet wall was damaged by water and poor quality of brick mortar. We also found that we would have to rebuild the parapet walls as much as 4 layers of brick deep.

Rubber roofing Massachusetts

Because I chose a careful approach to the rubber removal, by only pulling back the rubber membrane off the parapet wall, and not cutting it, we were able to do the entire brick repair work and roof preparation, while having the roof watertight each night with the original rubber membrane.

Once all brick repair was complete and mortar had sufficient time to cure, we installed a 2×8 pressure treated perimeter wood nailer to which IB wall flashing and drip edge would be attached. Only on the last day did we remove the whole rubber roof, installed new insulation and laid down the new, mechanically attached IB PVC flat roofing membrane.

rubber-roofing-boston-ma

We had to come back one more time to install the new gutter and downspouts, IB two-way membrane vents and 9″ IB attic vents over specially cut holes in the roof deck. These attic vents were installed to vent out the moisture that accumulated in the small attic space when the old rubber roof was leaking. Once in place,these over-sized vents will eventually dry out the attic and prevent any future mold growth.

Now Jim can enjoy his watertight roof and get sun baths sitting in his beach chair on the roof of his home, and not worry about damage to the membrane – he chose a very durable, commercial grade 80-mil IB roof. He will also enjoy a cooler home, due to the IB’s cool roofing features.

rubber roofing boston ma

You can read the complete job profile about this Flat roof in Boston, MA on our Cool Roofing Blog.

Flat roof in Framingham, MA

One of the more recent flat roofing jobs was in Framingham, MA, where we installed an IB roof on yet another shed dormer roof for Ed Kelly – a high-end remodeling contractor out of Northborough, MA. The builder had his crew remove old asphalt shingles off this roof and replace most of the old decking with new 3/4" plywood. We were there to install just the membrane and flash it 2 feet up the sloped roof.

Flat roofing Framingham, MA

During my conversation with Ed (the builder), he told me me why he chose the more expensive IB roof over a cheaper rubber EPDM membrane. His main reason was the IB’s hot-air welded seams, and hassle free roof performance. Before, Ed used rubber roofs on a few of his projects, and all but one of them leaked due to¬†problems¬†with seams, and required expensive¬†rubber roof repair. Ed decided to end his flat roofing nightmares and constant leaks, and chose an IB roof.

IB flat roofing.

The entire job took us one day to complete. The roof was prepared when we arrived to the job site in the morning, and before dark, we packed our tools and were ready to leave, as the installation was all done. The roofing crew which did the tear off and deck replacement was putting the new asphalt shingles and aluminum fascia trim back on, as we were driving away.

Roofing material:50 mil white IB roof, mechanically attached.

Insulation: 1/2″ fan-fold¬†Styrofoam.

Total roof size: Approximately 450 sq. ft.

Flat roof deck in Wellesley, MA

Just before the Framingham flat roof job described above, we did another job for Ed – an 80 mil IB roof that would be a water-proofing membraneroof deck over a garage being built as an addition to an already huge home in a very secluded area of Wellesley.
roof deck wellesley ma

Once again, a complete job profile for this roof deck is already on our blog, so there is no point to rewrite it here Рread the Wellesley, MA  flat roof deck installation overview.

Solar flat roof in Medford, MA

This job, was actually sponsored by Cool Flat Roof (us) and IB Roof Systems, as it was a non-profit project, competing in the 2009 Solar Decathlon competition, sponsored by the US DOE. We installed an IB roof on a Boston solar home with some help from the project volunteers and Architecture students from BAC and Tufts.

Solar flat roof of  Boston solar home in Medford, MA

Once¬†again, we have a complete coverage of the installation of the IB flat roof and the Solar PV panels on this roof –¬†Solar roof installation in Boston, MA.

Low slope shed dormer roof in Hingham, MA

Yet another shed dormer roof and also with major ice dams problems and leaks. This roof was just a year old when we removed the old asphalt shingles, and installed a new 50 mil IB traditions roof with an asphalt shingles pattern printed onto an IB white roofing membrane. This roof was completely covered with Ice & water shield, which failed miserably and forced the homeowner to climb up the slippery ladder all winter long, sometimes two times a day, to brake off the ice along the roof edge.

Shed dormer roof in Hingham, MA - a quiet town on Massachusetts South Shore.

The homeowner, Paul, tried everything from sodium-filled socks above the skylights to heating cables – nothing seemed to help, as with a lack of proper ventilation and inherent limitations of asphalt shingles, his roof was still leaking, as it faced north, and the sun never shined over it in the winter.

Paul wanted a permanent solution to stop leaks and not a single contractor that Paul contacted could explain to him how they would stop the leaks or promise that their roof will work. Some even offered to install asphalt shingles with Ice & Water shield РReally? Paul already had shingles with Ice and Water and it was not working.

IB flat roofing membrane being installed on a low-slope roof in Hingham, MA

Initially, Paul contacted us about getting a metal roof installed on his house, but after examining the roof, I suggested he install an IB roof instead, and residential flat roofing solution form IB  РTraditions Classic seemed to be the best option as it combined all the benefits of an IB roof with the classic look of architectural asphalt shingles printed onto the membrane. After a little decision making, Paul and his wife chose to go with a seamless one piece IB roof. In this case, there would be zero possibility of ice dam leaks.

All skylights now have seamless 1-piece flashing welded to the roof, and the ridge vent is raised by an inch above the roof level to prevent wind driven water from penetrating the roof.

All skylights now have seamless 1-piece plashing whelded to the roof, and the rodge vent is raise by an inch above the roof level to prevent wind driven water from penetrating the roof.

Now that Paul has a new IB Traditions Membrane, which is in effect a¬†seamless, one piece blanket over the entire roof, he and his wife won’t have to worry about leaks and breaking ice off the roof any more.

Getting an IB Membrane or a Metal Roof installed on your home in Massachusetts:

If your roof is leaking or you have Ice dams, and are tired of fighting with the ice, using heat cables, sodium-filled socks, raking your roof, and risking to fall off a ladder, you need to contact the low-slope roofing experts ( us :). Request a free roofing price quote and schedule a roof inspection / estimate. You can also use our online roofing calculator to estimate your roof replacement cost and compare prices of IB PVC membrane to Rubber roofing, Modified bitumen / Tar and gravel roofs.

Building Inspectors vs. Homeowners & Contractors (just a rant)

Foreword: If you are a building inspector / official, please try to understand that this rant is from a contractor’s point of view… Or at least try to be objective and unbiased.

Building permit

Pros and cons of building permits:

Why do we need building inspectors (and do we really need them)? Well, they are supposed to inspect – right? They are there to protect homeowners from shady contractors, and ensure that construction goes in accordance with state / national building codes. That’s why we also have specialty trade inspectors (electrical, plumbing, mechanical, etc). But do they really do their job? Another question – why do we need building permits? Yes, to pay the building inspector for doing his/her job of doing the inspections. Yea, right!

I will purposely¬†omit building inspectors in charge of large construction projects, such as bridges, sky-scrapers, factories, etc. There is a lot more¬†responsibility¬†there, and these inspectors are a lot more¬†knowledgeable¬†than your average “Joe, the building inspector”.

In my time being a roofing contractor, I had to pull many permits in the last 10 years – for almost every job we did. In all this time, only once have I seen a building inspector at a job site, and he was there to harass the home-owner about the “illegal kitchen” that came with the house they just purchased. In the¬†beginning¬†of my career as a contractor, I needed to get permits, but did not have sufficient / adequate insurance and in some cases did not have the Home Improvement Contractor¬†registration in a state where I was doing work. Luckily for me, I was able to get permits, and because I have dignity (I’d like to think so) I did decent work without code violations and nothing bad ever happened. I once had a “stop job” order posted at a job site, where we forgot to pull a permit. Ahh… the good old days.

When you get into serious contracting like Metal Roofing and IB Roof installations, you can’t afford not to have proper insurances and licenses. Your clients by default expect everything to be current and you to be fully insured – both worker’s comp and general liability. ¬†And besides, it is easier to show proof of insurance than to explain why you do not have it, or better yet to ask a home owner to pull “an owners permit”. It is also much easier to get a permit in 5 minutes instead of waiting 3 days and hoping that the inspector is not a complete a$$ or is looking for a bribe – for some reason, I have a very¬†strong¬†suspicion that¬†some building inspectors in Lynn, Revere, Malden and other surrounding towns in Massachusetts, purposely jerk contractors around, as if telling them – “give me $300 and you will have your permit”. I really believe so. Or they just hate people in general. But let me get back to building inspectors. Continue reading