Tillotson Enterprises Reduces Risk and Adds Value!
Picking a contractor is not easy. Just because a contractor has been in business for a long time or is the lowest bid doesn’t necessarily make them the best. Below is a list of things that the average person may not consider when picking the right contractor.
Warranties can be misleading. Warranties can be broken down into three main types: contractor warranties, joint warranties, and system warranties. Each warranty can usually be broken down into two main categories: material and labor.
Contractor Warranties: A contractor warranty is when the contractor gives you a warranty, not the manufacturer. These warranties, covering materials, may or may not be backed up with warranty papers received from the manufacturer. If you don’t get a material warranty from the manufacturer, then the warranty is contractual between the contractor and the manufacturer. This material warranty from the manufacturer would simply state that the warranty covers only material defects from the manufacturer. Most people assume the material warranty covers problems with the materials even if the materials weren’t applied correctly by the contractor. Almost all coating companies offer standard 10 year warranties. If longer warranties are offered, usually the contractor is in an elite group or is a master contractor for that manufacturer or they are applying more material to achieve longer material warranties. The labor portion is always covered by the contractor.
Joint warranties: A joint warranty is when the contractor and the manufacturer join together to offer a warranty. These types of warranties almost always have an additional cost associated with them. The cost usually ranges from 5-15 cents per square foot and have a minimum cost and sometimes a minimum square footage the roof has to meet to qualify. With these warranties the contractor has to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for coating thickness and application rates.
System warranties: These warranties are covered by the manufacturer for both material and labor. Again, these warranties usually have a greater cost and require a minimum square footage of roof to qualify. This type of warranty also usually requires a pre-start roof inspection and always requires a post-completion roof inspection done by the material manufacturer’s representative at a cost to the building owner. With these warranties, the contractor has to follow manufacturer guidelines for coating thickness and application rates.
Finally, the thing to remember is the warranties written by the contractor or the manufacturer are written in their best interests, not yours.
Nebraska State Law requires all employers to have Workman’s Compensation coverage on their employees, but you would be surprised to find that some established companies don’t carry it. You might ask yourself why you should care if a contractor carries workman’s compensation coverage. Well, if one of the contractor’s employees gets injured while working on your project, you could get stuck with the bill through your Workman’s Compensation insurance company or your building owner’s insurance policy.
You can check to see if the contractor you are considering having work on your project is covered for yourself, by going to www.dol.nebraska.gov/, once on that page, either click on Show All to view all registered contractors, or Open to search for the specific contractor.
Contracts that are written with vague language are poor contracts. Example: “spray apply elastomeric top coat to roof.” This contract doesn’t mention what type of material is being used, what rate, and what is the ending thickness of the material. Watch out for contractors using brochures from one manufacturer and using materials from a different manufacturer.
Watch for foam contractors that say they are putting down a certain foam thickness and don’t. Rule of thumb, if you don’t see the foam crew probing the foam you are not getting the foam thickness you paid for. One inch is minimum foam thickness over smooth surface. Since foam thicknesses will vary ¼ from high to low, to get one inch everywhere you need at least 1 ¼ inch thick foam specified in the contract because foam should not be applied at less than ½ inch per pass. Along the same lines, 1 ½ is minimum over an irregular surface and 2-3 inches is needed to stop condensation.
The reason for the last paragraph is because we have been able to work on other contractor’s foam roofs by recoating them due to hail damage. When we probe them, most of the time they are less than one inch. We even had one client whose contract said 1 ½ inches and the foam thickness was 3/8″-3/4″ thick.
Some of the most important physical properties you should look for in materials are: elongation, tensile strength, flexibility, weathering, and hardness. When applied over polyurethane foam, the tensile strength gives you a good feel for how the coating will stand up to hail. Look for the tensile strength to be 400 psi or greater.
The following is a short list of coatings used around the Tri-cities area, and as you can see, about 50% is a normal Solid/Volume. Therefore, 2 gallons of 50% solids/volume will yield 16 dry mils. Most manufacturers require their coatings to be applied at a minimum of 24 mils to as much as 40 mils thickness. In layman’s terms, your average coating thickness should be around the thickness of a credit card or greater, unless you are using silicone, which should be about ½ the thickness of a credit card or about 15 mils.
*Products we use
How experienced is the crew working on your job? Unfortunately, you may not know the answer to this question until it is too late.
Does the contractor and their crew go to advanced education classes on the materials they are using in addition to the on the job training given by the employer?
SPFA (Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance): The SPFA is the organization which sets standards for the spray foam industry. We are one of two companies in Nebraska that are SPFA Certified Contractors. In order to become certified by the SPFA, a contractor has to go through several classes and have completed roofs inspected and approved by third party inspectors.
Sometimes contractors attempt to take on projects that are much larger than they’ve ever done before. They may typically do projects that are less than 10,000 sq. ft and then try to take on a job that is over 100,000 sq. ft. Usually, this does not work very well in the end. Tillotson has done projects that range from 100 sq. feet to 250,000 sq. feet. We have also completed projects in which the cost was over $350,000 in one contract.
Reference lists are only good up to a point, because a contractor can remove bad references from their list. Every job we complete is added to our reference list. This list grows every year and is sent to every potential customer as a form of a link to a web page.
You should request a copy of this policy and make sure it is sent by the insurance company, not the contractor. If the company is performing roofing work, as an example, you want to make sure they are classified as a roof contractor, not as a painting contractor. If you don’t ask for the policy in writing, at least get the phone number for their agent so you can make sure they have coverage.
Ask to see their OSHA compliance booklet and SDS sheets on the material being used.
In summary, you want to consider more than just price when choosing a contractor to do your work. Some of the items on this list may seem insignificant but are important and can save you money in the long run.