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

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

IHOP Metal Roof – Part 2

After 3 days of rain, we finally got some decent weather on Monday. Although it was very warm for December, it was quite windy, which slowed us down. Nevertheless, we were able to get a lot of work done, including tearing of some old aluminum shingles/shakes, changing some plywood and of course making the roof watertight for the rain on Tuesday (yep, it was raining again)Tearing off old aluminum shakes and replacing plywood

As you may notice from the picture above, some of the roof rafters are not evenly spaced at 16 inches O.C., so each sheet of plywood had to be a trimmed to accommodate for the difference. Also some rafters “shift” left or right from their alignment… so to speak.

Leo is hard at work, installing a metal roof.

Since we knew it was going to rain overnight and the next day, we covered the entire roof area with blue tarps. Later we will come back to this section to replace the rest of the plywood. We will also install Ice & Water barrier along all eaves and valleys and GAF breathable systhetic underlayment as the main waterproofing layer under the future Aluminum Shake Metal Roof.

Metal Roof in Boston

Metal Roof installation in Brighton, MA

On Tuesday, we have finally started replacing a metal roof on the IHOP restaurant in Brighton, MA – near the Harvard stadium. This will be a big project, involving replacement of all the plywood and fixing rotted wood where necessary.

Since Tuesday night, it’s been raining non stop for 3 days, yet, we had enough time to tear off the old aluminum shakes on the section you can see in the picture, replace 3 sheets of plywood decking, and make the roof watertight.

Why we replace a metal roof?

Metal Roof - IHOP in Hyannis, MA

Although a metal roof (especially aluminum) should last a life-time, sometimes it does not. A roof is only as good as its installers. In this case, as well as with the IHOP metal roof in Hyannis MA,  which we installed in the beginning of the year, there were numerous installation defects. Namely, each shake was attached to the roof deck with only 3 clips and nails. While it is enough for the Brighton IHOP, since each shake is 3 sq. ft., in Hyannis, with all its high winds, shakes that were 5 sq. ft. were still attached with only 3 nails.

Another problem in case of the Brighton IHOP roof, shakes which apparently were manufactured by Alcoa, have very small locks – 3/8 of an inch, whereas the best metal roofing systems (which we install) feature 3/4 inch locks, making them a much more durable and wind resistant metal roofing system.

Third, and this is more of a guess: the flat roof portion of the IHOP roof in Brighton was recently replaced. We found that most of the plywood decking underneath the metal shakes was wet, soft and in some places rotted. Our conclusion is that the old flat roof was leaking, which caused some of the water to go under the metal shakes, and caused the deck to rot.

Our choice of metal roofing:

Metal Shakes - the choice is obvious.

The two metal roofing shakes above demonstrate a clear difference of quality and design vs. the manufacturer trying to save pennies on reducing the size of the lock, which greatly reduces the integrity of the whole roof system. Honestly, we do not know why the aluminum shake on the left has such a narrow lock, but from our experience, we know that it can pose future problems such as blow-off of the entire roof.

We will post more reports and pictures as the installation is coming along.

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