A Moral Dilemma
I recently visited a homeowner considering a metal roof for their home. About 40 years old, this executive home is tucked back in a beautiful, wooded setting next to a pond. The old roof was a single layer of asphalt shingles. I visited because the homeowner had added onto the home several times, creating a complex roofline that rendered the satellite reports impossible to read.
When I arrived, I immediately saw that the roof eave was wavy in several spots. This is unusual, but as the roof was installed without drip edge, my “spidey senses” didn’t trigger.
Fortunately, I had a skilled installer with me, and seeing the undulating eave, he had to investigate further.
He found that the decking was 2.5 inches short of the fascia when it should extend out to meet it. The starter course of shingles was spanning this gap, sagging on the rafter tails. As he moved around the home, he found this in several areas, including a large outbuilding with the fascia 1.5 inches higher than the decking!
Now, with my salesperson’s eye, I wouldn’t have investigated this far. The installation crew would find these issues when they showed up to start the project, too late to inform the homeowner. But, fixing this is time-consuming and costly, especially given the complicated geometry of this roof.
If a typical salesperson sees this roof and doesn’t notice a problem, the installation crew arrives to start the project, and a moral dilemma ensues.
Does the crew tell the contractor and property owner, or do they move on? Keep in mind that most metal roofs depend on secure fastening at the eaves.
If they call these problems out, the project will be delayed, additional expenses will result, and new costs will be negotiated. If they continue with the project and figure out an impromptu solution, they seriously jeopardize the looks and performance of the new roof system. The owner won’t get the roof he paid for.
What do you think will happen?
My example is a roofing project, but these situations often happen in remodeling. Jobsites are unpredictable. Salespeople miss things, and some defects stay hidden until demolition begins.
Unfortunately, in most cases, the crew is pressured to continue the project and make do rather than raise a concern and get behind schedule.
While home improvement professionals may argue that this situation doesn’t come up and that salespeople don’t miss things, this happens frequently. Our country’s existing homes have many flaws, often invisible until the remodeling project is well underway. Almost always, the desire to keep projects on track incentivizes covering up these deficiencies rather than resolving them.
Intelligent contractors position themselves as someone who won’t let this happen. While everyone says they never cut corners, things happen. Often the contractor doesn’t hear about it– the work crew smooths over the problem. The question is, did the crew resolve the issue and protect the owner from future issues, or did they cover things up? Even worse, did they create future liability for the contractor?
Here’s my suggestion. As a home improvement contractor, consider promoting the following to your customers:
“Delays May Happen Guarantee”
We at Triple A Remodeling take our customers’ homes seriously. Unfortunately, we often uncover flaws with your home as we work. While many contractors cover things up to keep the project on schedule and on budget, we don’t. If we discover defects in the process of your project, we will stop, call a meeting with you, and discuss options. We want you in control during your remodeling project.
Of course, this means that your crews must understand and agree with your policy. Reassure them that calling attention to defects won’t negatively impact them. Create a culture where this is the right and expected thing for them to do.
Above all, I appreciate you and your commitment to quality. Use this commitment to your advantage and help customers understand the total value of doing business with you! Please get in touch anytime I can help.
Todd Miller has spent his entire career in the metal building products manufacturing industry. He is president of Isaiah Industries, an organization recognized as one of the world’s leading metal roofing manufacturers. Todd is currently Vice President of the MRA (Metal Roofing Association) and a Past Chair of MCA (Metal Construction Association). Through his website, he strives to raise the bar on standards and practices to provide property owners with the best possible products for successful roofing projects.
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