How to Vet a Commercial Roof Contractor

July 17, 2017

Last month, we espoused the benefits of getting a roofing contractor before you need one. And while you might agree it’s a good thing to do, knowing how to pre-qualify roofing contractors may be a mystery to you. There are a few different approaches and all are them are good.

No. 1 Using a third-party qualification service.
Services like ISNetworld; BROWZ LLC; Avetta; or First, Verify to name a few can help you manage risk when hiring contractors, meet record-keeping needs, ensure regulatory and corporate compliance, and make connections with qualified contractors. These sites collect information on environmental health and safety, procurement, regulatory information, employee data, etc. If you lack the time and resources to hunt down this information yourself, third-party qualification services can make the process more manageable and lot less time-intensive.

No. 2 Using a corporate global supplier/vendor qualification form.
Your company may have its own qualification questionnaire. The information it collects helps you evaluate contractors’ performance, programs, qualifications, and/or competency to perform work safely at your sites. One form for all suppliers creates efficiency, standardization, and uniform reporting.

No. 3 Create your own standard vendor/contractor qualification form.
If your company hasn’t created a formal qualification form or system of its own, why not work on standardizing the process yourself? Some of the information you should obtain follows.

Safety
Ask contractors to state their incidence rates (TIR, LWDIR, EMR) or provide a copy of OSHA injury and illness recordkeeping forms (OSHA Form 300, 300A, and 301). Reporting of past safety violations and an explanation of recent occurrences (e.g. the past three years) should also be requested.

Inquire about whether a formal safety program has been implemented or if there’s a designated safety professional(s). You’ll want to dig for a few more specifics like regulatory topics and the frequency of training on them. How often are safety meetings, training, certifications, and inspections taking place? Is drug screening mandatory for new and existing employees?

Services
Getting a list of the services a contractor provides can help you determine whether they’re capabilities match your needs. It can also spare you from hiring two contractors when you could just contract with one. For example, say you want permanent fall protection installed; what if your roofing contractor could do that for you? Consider asking the contractor to convey which services they offer by selecting MasterFormat categories of work experience (e.g. 07 70 00 Roof and Wall Specialties and Accessories, 07 60 00 Flashing and Sheet Metal, 07 50 00 Membrane Roofing, etc.).

Geographic capabilities
Make sure the contractor is licensed in the state where your facility is located. Perhaps they have more widespread capabilities than once imagined; now you can single-source service delivery by using the same roofing contractor for facilities throughout your real estate portfolio.

Past experience
Which systems (e.g. built-up, single-ply, spray polyurethane foam, etc.) is the contractor experienced with? What manufacturers’ products are they authorized and trained to install? Don’t forget to ask about the type of facilities the contractor has experience working in. A hospital has a very different set of work requirements than a downtown high-rise or manufacturing factory.

References
Has the contractor been awarded elite or master status from any manufacturers? When you’re at industry association meetings (e.g. IFMA, BOMA, etc.), ask peers if they have any experience working with the contractor. And don’t hesitate to call the contractor’s references.

Ready. Set. Contract.
Once you’ve collected all this information via any of the means discussed, consider negotiating an agreement with your roofing contractor of choice. No matter whether they’re called a facility services agreement, master agreement, or select supplier agreement, these contracts ensure that both parties agree on terms and conditions long before work begins. When an urgent need arises, there’s less paperwork slowing down progress.

You’ll have all the necessary personnel contact info at the ready (e.g. project managers, service managers, administrative professionals, and invoicing contacts) when an urgent need for roofing maintenance arises. You can breathe easier knowing that you haven’t just hired a roofing contractor, you’ve found a partner.