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Are Consultants Worth the Cost?

Jan. 19, 2011
What are the benefits of roofing consultants, and are they worth the price you’ll pay?

With every organization looking to cut costs wherever possible, how do you know if a roofing consultant is worth the additional cost and how can you find one to meet your needs?

A good roofing consultant can provide an invaluable service to your facility. According to Richard Cook, Jr., partner in building envelope consulting with ADC Engineering and first vice president of RCI, Inc. (a professional association of roofing, exterior wall, and waterproofing consultants), the predominant services provided by roofing consultants are:

  • Assess the conditions and needs for the roofs of your facilities
  • Assist in the management and budgeting for your roofs (in terms of repairs and replacements)
  • Provide design services for the roof work
  • Administer the construction projects for the owner
  • Provide inspection services during construction.

Benefits of No Bias
"The main benefit of a roofing consultant, I believe, is independence and a nonbiased opinion of a solution," says Curt Liscum, senior consultant and partner with Benchmark. "A good independent roof consultant isn’t selling a product, isn’t selling a service, and doesn’t have to sell labor for men to put something on."

Finding an unbiased opinion is key to finding a good roofing consultant. "The biggest factor when selecting roofing consultants is to make sure they don’t have businesses where they sell some kind of contracting service or sell some kind of material with it," explains Liscum. "They need to be up front and honest and just say, ‘Hey, our business is doing consulting or engineering, and we’re not selling another product or contracting service.’ In order to be a professional member of RCI, you’ve got to sign an agreement to its code of ethics, which basically says that you are independent and unbiased in your opinions – you’re not going to make your money somewhere else."

Additional Attributes
In addition to an unbiased approach, there are several additional traits to look for, says Cook. He suggests that you look for the following attributes in a roofing consultant:

  • Knowledge of roofing and the total building envelope
  • Experience in similar projects/work
  • A proven track record
  • An established and qualified staff
  • All required insurances (general liability, workman’s comp, etc.)
  • Any licenses or registrations as required by the state based on the scope of work.

Money Spent, Money Saved
If you are still unsure if a roofing consultant is worth your money, consider how this expert could end up saving you money. "We find that owners are not maintaining their roofs," says Liscum. "Roofing is out of sight, out of mind. And what we find is premature failure of roofing systems because of the lack of attention and lack of preventive maintenance. Minor things aren’t being taken care of in a timely fashion and therefore they cause major problems, premature problems, and are very costly to a lot of industries."

While it is ideal to have a consultant up on your roof a couple of times each year, financially and realistically that doesn’t happen. "I’m a realist, too, being in this business for over 30 years," Liscum says. "I really think that if I can get up on my clients’ roofs every couple of years and help them with managing the problems at that time, whether we can just repair them or whatever we need to do, that could make a significant impact on long-term performance."

Kylie Wroblaski ([email protected]) is associate editor of BUILDINGS.

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