As a home or building owner, you always hope for a seamless and easy installation of any item requiring a contractor to come out to your property, including something as small as a new kitchen sink or large like a metal roof.
Sometimes, the metal roof installation process goes forward without a hitch, but there are also instances where problems arise quickly, and some of those are caused by the contractors or installers hired to do the project.
With over 20 years in the industry, Sheffield Metals has interacted with countless contractors and property owners on all types of metal roofing and wall system installations. We discovered that there are lots of contractors who have an excellent track record and are experienced in metal roof installs, but we think it’s important to discuss the other side too. This is why we want to lay out some common contractor problems that you should be looking out for during your metal roof installation.
#1: Poor Workmanship
Subpar workmanship on the part of the contractors and installers is easily the number one contractor issue you could potentially face. Unfortunately, more likely than not, you’re not a metal roofing installation professional, so it may be difficult to determine good workmanship from bad just by looking at it.
However, during the installation, there are certain things to look for that might indicate poor quality of work. Walk outdoors and look for signs of any of the following:
- Noticeable dents, small or large, in the metal panels
- Crooked or off-center panels
- Do the seam lines look diagonal or inconsistent?
- Scuffed or scratched paint on the metal panels
- You should expect some minor scratches, but any scratch going down to the substrate needs to be addressed immediately before further potential problems arise.
- Rough cuts or exposed bare metal edges
- Any bare, exposed metal is a cause for concern, as nothing is protecting it from deteriorating and rusting when exposed to moisture.
- Flashings or panels are loose or don’t appear to be secured well enough
- There are noticeable gaps in the flashing (sheet metal used to seal different portions of the roof, such as chimneys and valleys, and provide extra weather-tightness) zones
- There are large gaps in between the panel seams
- Excessive sealant is applied or noticeable
- Panels, seams, or details are not what you agreed to
- Installing a metal roof color that was not chosen by the property owner
#2: Irresponsible Practices at the Job Site
Going a step beyond poor workmanship or contractor inexperience, irresponsible businesses practices occurring at the job site can quickly lead to issues on the metal roof itself, with other parts of the property, and leave problems behind for you, the home or business owner.
We could go on and on about irresponsible business practices, but we understand that everyone is human and subject to making a few minor mistakes. However, there are some inexcusable practices to look out for:
- Severe lack of organization, especially with the metal, by contractors or installers
- Panels are laying all over the yard
- Panels are improperly handled
- These occurrences can potentially lead to oil canning development or other problems
- Contractor vehicles or machines are tearing up your yard
- The contractors or installers are frequently seen just standing around
- Improper disposal of the old roof
- For example, shingles or old panels are thrown all over the yard and aren’t disposed of via recycling or dumpster.
- Exposing the roof underlayment to the environment (UV exposure, weather, etc.) for too long before installing the metal roof system
- Different underlayments have specific exposure time ratings.
- The installers did not clean up at the end of the installation
- Leaving cigarette butts or other litter all around.
- Not putting plants or pots back in the original spots.
- If indoors need to be accessed, any dirt or mess should be cleaned up.
- Intoxication of any kind on the job
- Using the bathroom inside of your property (unless you allow it) or going outdoors on the property itself
#3: Communication Difficulties with the Supervising Contractor
Another problem that might pop up during the installation is difficulty communicating with your point-person for the project. For clarification, the main contract may be the project manager, the foreman, a general contractor, or a higher-level individual at the contracting business.
In fact, many issues often happen due to a lack of communication or just miscommunication in general. Here are some communication problems to watch for:
- You’re leaving messages and not getting any response
- You can’t find the general contractor or project foreman at the job site
- Don’t expect the regular installers to answer your questions. If needed, ask them where the general contractor or project foreman is at that time so you can direct your questions to them.
- Your questions aren’t being answered
- This is a major red flag. The contractor should not be reluctant to answer your questions about the project on your property. If they are unsure or unable to answer a specific question, they should find out the answer and report back to you in a reasonable time frame.
- You don’t understand what the contractor is telling you
- The contractor doesn’t thoroughly explain their processes
- If you don’t know a word or process the contractor uses, ask for clarification.
- There is a language barrier between yourself and the contractor
#4: Contractor and Installer Reliability
Contractor reliability seems like it would be a given because you’ve hired the business and are paying for the relatively large cost of a metal roof installation on your property. But reliability and following through on commitments remain potential issues that could require addressing if severe enough.
Concerning reliability, make sure the contractors are:
- Showing up on time when the home or building owner is told they will
- If you work with a general contractor and the installers aren’t showing up on time or at all, talk to the general contractor or project foreman first. If you hired a contractor directly, speak to the highest person up that you can if it becomes a problem.
- Communicating any delays in starting the install or any delays during the project
- The only good reasons to delay a project once it’s begun are weather, workplace injury, or unsafe access to the roof or staging areas. If one of these situations occurs, ensure the installers never leave the roof in a non-weather-tight condition.
- Delays in receiving the required materials can happen too, but these should typically occur before the installation.
- Following through on commitments and meeting proposed deadlines
- You should document these things just in case you need to go above the supervising or general contractor to discuss your grievances.
- Documenting all of your concerns
- Your main contractor contact should be writing these questions or concerns down so they don’t forget to check on them.
- It might be best to follow up on your concerns in writing so you can reference later if needed.
#5: Budget Issues & Deviations from the Original Bid
Last but not least are problems stemming from changes in pricing, especially those that are significantly higher than the initially proposed bid.
The standard opinion in the industry is that the price should not deviate that much from the original price, and contractors should be capturing any escalation clauses in their bids just in case something is discovered during the installation. Additionally, we also want to recommend that if the quote is more than 30 days old, you should get a new one, as the price may have changed in that time frame.
Good reasons for a bid to increase during the installation:
- Roof deck issues, such as damages to the original structure, which results in added material and labor (time) costs
- Mold growth beneath the original roofs
- Keep in mind: You’ll never know the full scope of what’s going on under the roof until it’s pulled up.
Poor reasons for a bid to increase during the installation:
- The panels are damaged and new materials need to be ordered
- The contractor intentionally offered a low bid on your project to win the job but knew they would have to increase the price at some point
- The contractor orders the wrong panels, accessories, or flashing materials
- Time and labor goes up for one or more reasons that you weren’t notified about
- It’s the contractor’s responsibility to prove to you that a different product other than the one on a bid is an adequate substitute, which goes along with keeping the lines of communication open at all times.
To ensure you’re not getting ripped off, make sure you never pay for the roofing project in full upfront, which gives you some leverage if you come into a situation where the price keeps increasing.
How to Avoid Roofing Contractor Problems Before They Begin
Pick a trustworthy contractor right from the start
Choosing the best contractor right from the beginning is easily the best way to avoid problems with your metal roof installation. We’ve even posted an entire article about finding good contractors.
- Do your research by asking friends, family or neighbors for referrals, reach out to roofing organizations or associations, read reviews online, or even ask a manufacturer of roofing products for recommendations.
- Consult with more than one contractor and ensure each one is thorough and organized.
- Ask the contractor as many questions as possible to make sure you understand their processes and methods of communication.
- Don’t be afraid to say no or challenge a contractor if you don’t agree with something.
- Hire the contractor you feel most comfortable to work on your roof.
Continue to educate yourself during the entire installation
With any home project, you want very few surprises so you don’t have to spend added time and money if something were to go wrong. You can combat this by remaining educated on what to expect during roofing installations. Education and knowing what will be going on with your roof will help ease some worry if something does come up.
Keep lines of communication with the contractor open at all times
One of the most significant differences between an okay and a great metal roof installation experience is how well the home or building owner was able to communicate with their main contact (general contractor, supervisor, or otherwise). If you’re in a contractor consultation and you get the feeling that you will have limited contact with your point-person, it’s likely not going to be a good fit.
Also, the more communication and questions answered before the install starts, the easier an installation will go for all parties. Meeting with the contractor during a consultation is your chance to ask all of your questions about their processes, skills, experiences, and methods. It’s your money that you’re paying them, so you should be receiving answers and explanations if you need it.
Know how to approach a potential problem
If you’re unhappy about one or more of the issues listed above, know how to approach the situation. We understand that it can be frustrating, but try to stay level-headed and refrain from throwing accusations around. Again, only approach your primary contact (not the installers) to voice your concerns and ask questions about how the problem can be fixed. Continue to follow up with your contact to make sure they have arranged to fix it.
If there is consistent blatant negligence, you do have the right to shut down the installation, but this should only be reserved as an absolute last resort.
Wrapping it All Up
No one wants a problem to come up during a metal roof installation. And sometimes it won’t, but it’s best to be prepared by knowing about the common issues related to contractors that are reported by property owners.
Keep an eye out for:
- Apparent poor workmanship during the project
- Irresponsible and a lack of organization
- Difficulty communicating with your primary contact
- Installers and contractor reliability and follow-through on commitments
- Frequent price or bid increases without reason
At Sheffield Metals, we pride ourselves on providing support and information to home and building owners installing a metal roof in addition to our variety of continuously stocked metal roofing products.
In other words, we want to help you get the best metal roof and the best contractor the first time around. If you have questions or need a better idea of some reputable metal roofing contractors in your area, contact us today to speak with one of our experts.