FACTS about Public Roofing Procurement, and Oversight. Copyright 2010 by Robert R. Solomon

Sunday, July 31, 2011

"Unlicensed Contracting, and Dangers Within"

Many colleagues have been writing to me about this topic, and I will attempt to break it down for you, the consumer.

At the onset, let me tell you my state is without doubt, the most stringent licensing bureau in the United States, as it pertains to "State Certified Roofing Contractor" status.  The CCC1325620 you see after my name in each post is in fact my state certification number.  This license number, and all information about it's current status are available to the public online.

Now, for this, I've invested 16 weeks of specific financial training, product knowledge, and several thousand dollars preparing for my exam.  This is in addition to my 37 years of service within my discipline at the highest level.  70% of first time applicants fail the two day testing procedure.  I am fortunate to not be among that group, and I know many contractors who've taken the test three times before finally passing it.  But good for them, as they wanted the highest certification possible, and I know what they went through mentally, and financially to achieve "State Certification".

This accreditation is acknowledged by most other states in the Republic, and I enjoy reciprocity in permitting jurisdictions within those states.  Some states do not require roofers to have state licensing, which is why you should do your homework before enlisting them on a project.

Okay, that's the purpose, and now we'll get to the problem.  UNLICENSED CONTRACTOR  ACTIVITY.  Our permitting jurisdictions are understaffed due to budgetary restrictions, and unlicensed activity is not properly policed due to sheer volume.

"Why should I care Ron?, I just saved $500.00 on my house with a guy that did it on the weekend, and it turned out good too".  Well let me describe something that will not "turn out good" in the event you are caught, or if someone gets hurt.  Odds are the unlicensed contractor has no insurance (there's the $500.00 you saved), and when someone gets hurt, it falls directly upon the homeowner.

Now, YOUR homeowner's insurance will become involved, and it will be exactly like you imagine it will be, MESSY.  You will explain to them why you hired an unlicensed contractor, and the "I didn't know he was unlicensed" answer will not fly.

Let us explore a more stark version, and say (God forbid) someone on his crew got seriously hurt (very easy to do).  He has no insurance, so who is on the hook?  Of course the answer is "YOU are".  Now you are open to court proceedings, responsible for his medical bills, and anything else his atorney wishes to tack on.

Unlicensed contractors are not approved by any material manufacturers, so you will certainly not receive any manufacturer's warranty, so don't expect it.  Typically, the unlicensed contractor will ask for either 50% up front, and in some cases, 100%.  NEVER pay a roofing contractor up front for anything.

Last weekend, here in Hillsborough County Florida, they conducted a "sweep" of illegal contractors and over 80 were arrested, on ONE weekend!  I forgot to mention they were also featured on the 6:00 news, and boy was it ugly.  I'm trying to present issues to you that occur in the "Real World", and not hypotheticals.

That $500.00 sure seems insignificant now doesn't it?  A friend of mine hired a subcontractor on his commercial job.  The subcontractor uttered a fake certificate of insurance to him, and had a man hurt on the job.  That error cost him $107,000.00 CASH.  Always call the insurance company and ask about the validity of the insurance certificate, as they are very easy to forge, and often are.

Where did he buy the roofing material?  If you do not receive a "Lien Release" from his supplier, and he does not pay them, guess who that falls on?  You of course, and paying twice for a roof may not be very palatable.

Unless you are, in fact, Kenny Rogers "The Gambler", I would not suggest you bet your property and livelihood on a $500.00 pot.

It is my wish to be at least marginally informative regarding this topic, and hopefully I've convinced you not to play with fire.

Thank you for taking the time to visit with me here, and I am appreciative you care what I have to say.  Reject negativity in all forms, and remember to always keep looking "UP".


Robert R. "Ron" Solomon

Sunday, July 24, 2011

"Value in presentation"

I see this over, over, and over again.  Many (If not all) roofing contractors despise paperwork, because it is so time consuming.  In many cases it is almost foreign to them, so a minimal effort, or emphasis is placed upon it.  That is normally a precursor what to expect of them when you enter into contract.  You will be begging for submittals, MSDS, permit, insurance, etc., and you that have been in the discipline for any length of time will agree.

It's pretty easy to secure a contract, but how are you going to fulfill all the paperwork (AIA billing, schedule of values, etc.) that absolutely must be done in a timely manner.

Very few know how to write a professional proposal, much less a detailed report, with detailed remedy.  You are literally asking someone to entrust hundreds of thousands of dollars to you for a 1 page FAX.  And boy, do I hate faxes.  It is a sign of laziness, and if the company isn't advanced enough to scan documents, and transmit them electronically, then I don't think you should view this as a positive sign.

This is where owners are torn between "Cheap" Vs. "Professional".  It is a simple matter of mathematics really, or is it?  If you have not properly vetted the contractor or consultant, you may get EXACTLY what you pay for.  In the end, job delay, poor performance, endless change order requests, paperwork holdups, and a bad experience in general is what comes with "Cheap".  I may type that word, but it never crosses my lips.  Please realize it takes money to operate as a "Professional", but that is the last thing you should try to scrimp on.  Fire the employee with no drivers license, or skill, first.  But don't think your client is stupid and lazy, because they aren't.

I am of the opinion (rarely do I offer opinion, but in the absence of data, must rely on it in this case) that assuming your estimator has done an accurate takeoff with area, lineage, object count, and general conditions, you must now present his findings to the client.  You've already invested substantial time and money into that portion, so are you prepared to take it to the end?  Or will you depend upon dumb luck?

If you are simply faxing a one page quote, I will tell you the future does not look bright for you.  It makes you look very ordinary, and that is not a good idea unless your firm is named "Very Ordinary Roofing, Inc.".

I swear I saw a truck last week that was named "Above Average Roofing".  I thought about it for a second, and  said "I respect this guy".  He tells it like it is, and states it right there for you.  I loved it, because he  cut to the chase.

It is not remotely unusual for me to take three days to write a nice roof report, and work order for the Chief Superintendent.  Invest that time up front, hire someone to do it, but make sure it is done.  There is a very fine line between achievement, and failure in the roofing discipline.  My advice is for you to do the extra work whether you find it valuable or not.

You are simply defining how you wish to be perceived by your current, or prospective client.  Cliche' time:  "You only get one chance to make a first impression".

Of course the answer to our last poll was TPO.

I am appreciative of the time you spend here, and humbled you care what I have to share.  Reject negativity in all forms, and always remember, my dear friends, to always keep looking "UP".


Robert R. "Ron" Solomon

Thursday, July 14, 2011

"Carbon Nanotubes, and the Future of Solar Energy Collection"

Boy, doesn't that sound fun?  I bet you were just sitting there thinking "Boy, I'd like to read up on an interesting topic, so why not carbon nanotubes".  So, I think you should be aware of this topic that many say will be commercially available within 5 years, and at the cost of regular house paint.  Now that's the solar collection we've been looking for.  Please read the following article which I hope brings this topic into focus for you.

Carbon Nanotubes (CNTs), graphene and their compounds exhibit extraordinary electrical properties for organic materials, and have a huge potential in electrical and electronic applications such as photovoltaics, sensors, semiconductor devices, displays, conductors, smart textiles and energy conversion devices (e.g., fuel cells, harvesters and batteries). This updated report brings all of this together, covering the latest work from 100 organizations around the world to details of the latest progress applying the technologies. New developments, challenges and opportunities regarding material production and applications are given.
Applications of Carbon Nanotubes and Graphene for electronics applications
Depending on their chemical structure, carbon nanotubes (CNTs) can be used as an alternative to organic or inorganic semiconductors as well as conductors, but the cost is currently the greatest restraint. However, that has the ability to rapidly fall as new, cheaper mass production processes are established, which we cover in this report. In electronics, other than electromagnetic shielding, one of the first large applications for CNTs will be conductors. In addition to their high conductance, they can be transparent, flexible and even stretchable. Here, applications are for displays, replacing ITO; touch screens, photovoltaics and display bus bars and beyond.
In addition, interest is high as CNTs have demonstrated mobilities which are magnitudes higher than silicon, meaning that fast switching transistors can be fabricated. In addition, CNTs can be solution processed, i.e. printed. In other words, CNTs will be able to provide high performing devices which can ultimately be made in low cost manufacturing processes such as printing, over large areas. They have application to supercapacitors, which bridge the gap between batteries and capacitors, leveraging the energy density of batteries with the power density of capacitors and transistors.
Challenges are material purity, device fabrication, and the need for other device materials such as suitable dielectrics. However, the opportunity is large, given the high performance, flexibility, transparency and printability. Companies that IDTechEx surveyed report growth rates as high as 300% over the next five years. New developments regarding the production of pure CNTs and the separation of conducting and semiconducting carbon nanotubes are given in this updated report.
Graphene, a cheap organic material, is being enhanced by companies that are increasing its conductivity, to be used in some applications as a significantly cheaper printed conductor compared to silver ink. Graphene and its compounds are increasingly used to make transistors that show extremely good performance - a progress that comes with new cheaper production processes for the raw material.
Courtesy: ID TechEx
Carbon nanotubes may be used in medical applications, roofing, computers, improving materials, etc.  The uses seem limited only by the human imagination, and I truly believe this is the future of solar collection.
You may wish to stop for a moment and think about the hundreds of millions who do not have access to energy for even the most basic of needs.  This is the way that will allow them the bare necessities we so casually take for granted each day.
Thank you so much to my visitors from around the globe.  Here we discuss roofing topics, sciences associated with it, and make an attempt to show the importance of honor, integrity, and self respect in all phases of this life.  I am humbled you care what I have to say here.
I will encourage you to reject negativity in all forms, and always remember to keep looking "UP".
Robert R. "Ron" Solomon

Saturday, July 2, 2011

"FREE Home Energy Audit"

Today, we will take a departure from a lot of the commercial roofing topics I normally discuss, to focus on your residence.

Believe it or not, but I actually live in a home (insert joke here), and here in Florida, the temperature today is 95 degrees F.   In Florida, it is a very rare occasion to experience heating days, but regardless of where you live, you want to have an efficient, insulated home.  Gee Ron, No Kidding!

I decided to take advantage of a "Free Home Energy Audit" by my energy provider (TECO), and will describe my experience, so you may consider the same.  I called TECO on Friday to inquire about the program, and they had a man here 10:00 am on Monday.  They didn't send a "subcontractor" by the way, but a first class representative, who'd been with them for 37 YEARS!!  Right here is where I give "Big Ups" to My Man Rick.  I could go on about him, but it would get mushy, and turn into the "Rick Show".

He conducted any number of tests, and inspections, in about 1 hour.  I received a printout on the exact energy coefficients of my home, and then sat down for solutions.  Other than some minor sealing (gasket around front entry), we focused on duct sealing, and additional attic insulation.

Please note that I was already instructed by Mrs. Solomon to purchase unfaced batt insulation that week, or I could find myself an even hotter residence somewhere else.  Don't quite know how serious she was about that, didn't want to find out, and I am trained by now to know better.  Take notes on this you younger guys.  The cost of the insulation alone was around $1,000.00 at Home Depot and then the install costs would be in addition.

Instead, the energy auditor (Super Rick) told me I could have all ductwork sealed for $50.00, and additional R-11 fiberglass blown into my attic for $100.00.  $150.00 TOTAL!!  So, my immediate thought was to get on Craigslist and buy some stereo equipment as any man would, but was quickly snatched back into reality.

All the procrastinating I'd done, cost me a rather large sum of money in energy costs, and I could have kicked myself.

The day after the ductwork was sealed, my inside temperature went down by 5 degrees F.!  The insulation is being blown in next week, and I'll report back on that improvement as well.  While we're on the subject, my energy provider allowed me to choose between blown in cellulose (newspaper), or fiberglass.

I've written a seperate post in here about fiberglass, so I took my own advice for once, and chose that thermal medium.  Do you remember why?  Because fiberglass is non-flammable, condensation does not allow it to collapse, and it is a very bad nesting environment for vermin.

The purpose of today's message is to encourage you to stop putting it off, because it is very painless, and an incredible value.  Your energy provider really does want to help you, so let them.

Also, you commercial roofing guys might like to know that (with my energy provider anyway) that if you install a white, reflective, roof system like TPO, you may qualify your client for up to $15,000.00 (.60 sq. ft.), in "cool roofing" rebate.  I should think that's quite a plus for you, if your competitor is not very savvy when it comes to energy.  This is directly from TECO's website:

Cool Roof Program

What is it?

You can earn a rebate up to $0.60 per square foot up to $15,000 for installing a cool roof system above conditioned spaces. This program is designed to decrease heat transfer through reflectance, improve comfort and reduce commercial heating, ventilating, and air conditioning (HVAC) load.

How does it work?

Available to commercial/industrial customers with a roof area that includes a dedicated electric HVAC system. The cool roof system must reflect at least 70 percent of the solar radiation, have a thermal emittance greater than 0.75 and be installed by a licensed contractor. In addition, the systems must have an Energy Star labeled roof product based on ASTE E-903 or ASTM C-1549 testing.

How do I participate?

To participate, please follow these steps:
  1. Mail or e-mail your project proposal to Tampa Electric. Once your proposal is received, a Tampa Electric representative may schedule an on-site visit for pre-inspection.
  2. After the pre-inspection is complete or Tampa Electric approves your proposal, download and submit the Cool Roof program application to Tampa Electric. Once your application is received, a Tampa Electric representative may schedule an on-site post-inspection.
  3. Tampa Electric will process the rebate check after the program guidelines are met. Please allow 4 weeks to process your rebate check.
Please mail all documentation to:
Commercial Energy Management Services
Tampa Electric
P.O. Box 111
Tampa, FL 33601

I mean, it was a piece of cake, and I am thankful for such outstanding customer service.  TECO is a very fine company and is always involved in community events, while helping their consumers on a very personal basis.

Thanks TECO.

I hope everyone and their families are well on this Independence Day weekend, that you stay safe, and happy in your endeavors.

"In this world everything changes except good deeds and bad deeds; they follow you as the shadow follows the body" (unknown)

I am very thankful for the time you spend with me here, and remember to always keep looking "UP".

Much respect,

Robert R. "Ron" Solomon

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