Trust me – I’ve been on a training course!
Those like me who have been involved in traditional metal roofing for a number of years know that it isn’t a trade that can be learned in five minutes.
Whilst the mechanical tools and equipment used to cut, shape and form hard metals (copper, zinc, galvanised and stainless steel) means there is less dependency on manual skills than with (say) lead sheet, it is essential that the installer has the skill, knowledge and experience to get it right first time.
In setting out a roof the installer must not only take account of the size of the sheets being installed and how and where they are to be fixed, but also the type of metal, the manufacturer’s own detailing requirements (which are different, even among manufacturers of the same metal), exposure, wind lift, expansion, suitable underlay, fundamental substrate design and a whole host of other things that will impact on the long term performance of the roof being installed.
Which is why I get very frustrated when we are contacted by architects and property owners who have problems with their metal roofs and I see reports about the standard of the installation our technical officers are finding when they investigate.
Quite often and especially with those smaller projects for a domestic client or small general builder, we find the installation has been carried out by someone that quite obviously does not have sufficient experience and knowledge to tackle metal roofing without proper guidance and supervision.
In many cases jobs have been awarded purely on price and an installer approved because they claim to have been fully trained.
I must question what someone would regard as “fully trained” because in my book that means more than just a one or two day product induction course which are run by many metal manufacturers and it means more than the basic courses for new entrants that are run at the Lead Sheet Association National Roof Training Centre in Kent.
And yet we know of installers that are going after work on the basis of the barest minimum of training, hoping to pick up skills as they go along and learn from their experience (mistakes).
When we advertise a training course our secretary has actually taken calls from so called installers that want to know if they are able to fit a roof once they have attended the course because they are actually tendering for work on that basis.
Of course training is hugely important and it has a critical role in the long term development of our industry and is fully supported by the FTMRC. But the proper, comprehensive training towards the formal qualifications that are available takes time and therefore tends to be ignored by those looking for a quick commercial fix.
Such is the magnet of a growing market and a shortage of specialists, that it draws in contractors from other disciplines that fancy their chances at installing traditional metal roofing.
We, as specialist contractors despair of such businesses because they initially undercut everyone on price, take on projects they are ill equipped to do and then disappear when the job goes wrong, leaving others to sort out the mess for a very unhappy client. A client, incidentally who realises too late that saving money at the start of the project may now cost them dearly to see it through to the end.
Manufacturers have the same battle, because they don’t want their product range to fail and undermine their reputation for a high standard quality roofing metal. Yet often the manufacturer cannot control who buys their product because of the wide variety of commercial outlets through which it is distributed.
It is frustrating because demand is high and increasing and – because of our own hard won quality standard reputation – most FTMRC members are extremely busy. The Federation continues to expand with this year more than 60 specialist contractors now approved as members, but still this is not enough to satisfy demand, especially for those projects where a narrow time limit is imposed.
Using an FTMRC member may not always be the cheapest, but it will prove to be the best value for money over time and is therefore a quality standard worth waiting for. Our members are not perfect and sometimes do make mistakes, but the difference is when that happens we go back and put it right, at no further cost to the client – otherwise it can cost us our membership of the FTMRC.
Add into the mix that our members are now able to offer an insurance backed independent warranty for their work and it begs the question why use anyone else for traditional metal roofing?
Trust me – I’m a member of the FTMRC!
Chairman – FTMRC