Speed vs. Quality in Residential Roof Installation—Can You Have Both?

By Annie Crawford 08-24-2020
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Speed is king in residential roof installation, but it can come at the expense of quality. Without taking steps to maintain quality, "the fastest roof is typically the one that will cost contractors the most," stated Guillaume Bailly, Senior Training Manager, Canada for the GAF Center for the Advancement of Roofing Excellence (CARE). This is because poor quality leads to callbacks, reduced reputation, and lost profit over time.

Fortunately, by using efficiency techniques and the right roofing materials, quality and speed don't have to be mutually exclusive in residential roof installation.

Techniques to Improve Efficiency and Consistency

By implementing some techniques for more efficient work, it's possible to install quality roofs, have happy customers, and improve profit margins with faster installations. Here are four strategies for residential roof installation that will put your crew in peak performance mode.

  1. Proper Onboarding. Provide uniform training on your company operations and residential roof installation standards to each new crew member. "Most roofing companies don't have any formal—much less informal—training to get crew members up to speed," said Bailly. "The time you invest in training your crew on the front end will prove its value through efficient, quality work down the line."

  2. SOP: Standard Operating Procedure. SOP improves quality and efficiency because everyone on your crew is using the same installation techniques. Unfortunately, many roofing contractors don't have clear SOP. "Everyone needs to be on the same page," said Bailly. "Create protocols for how you install drip edge, how you inspect substrate, and how you install every component of the roofing system." SOP doesn't just increase speed and efficiency, it also reduces arguments and improves morale. "SOP eliminates the ego element in your crew," said Bailly. "It doesn't become a matter of 'my way vs. your way.' It's just the company way."

  3. Inspection. Inspections improve company efficiency over time because they reinforce your SOP and create consistency. "As roofers, we can be stubborn. This is something my wife agrees with fully!" said Bailly. So, even if you tell someone "this is how we do it," they might say, "no problem," and then continue to do it their own way. The solution is independent inspections. "Over time, if they have inspection after inspection where they have to fix their work, they'll start to fall in line," said Bailly. Keep in mind, it's not a true inspection if the person who did the install is also doing the inspection. Instead, you may want to use a third party who will be vigilant about details. Consider using the foreman of another crew, the company owner, or a consultant firm for inspections.

  4. Compensation. Reward workers' compliance with SOP so they will discipline themselves to install the roof properly. "Many installers are paid per bundle. Of course, they prioritize speed," said Bailly. "But when you give workers who get a 10 out of 10 on inspection a bonus for the day, they're incentivized to do great work." The front end investment can save big money by creating an efficient and consistent team whose quality work helps reduce callbacks and other problems on the back end.

Products that Can Help Improve Speed and Accuracy

In addition to internal techniques, new roofing technologies can provide valuable benefits for roofers. From shingles with wider nailing zones to help with nailing accuracy to underlayment that makes shingle alignment easier, here are some products that can help installers get the job done.

  • Timberline® HDZ Shingles with LayerLock™ Technology: A 2020 update on the original Timberline® HD®, this shingle features three key components—LayerLock™ technology, the StrikeZone™ nailing area, and DuraGrip™ sealant. With a wide nailing zone of 1.81 inches, the StrikeZone™ nailing area offers up to 99.9% nailing accuracy. LayerLock™ technology mechanically fastens the common bond for strength, and DuraGrip™ sealant offers one of the industry's strongest bonds.
  • Hip and Ridge Cap Shingles: These ridge caps are perforated, so your crew just needs to crack them apart and go, with no cutting to worry about.
  • Deck-Armor™ Roof Deck Protection: This underlayment has vertical and horizontal lines to help with shingle alignment. It comes in rolls that are 33% wider than traditional felts for more coverage per course. It also provides great traction for roofers to walk on.

Team training and powerhouse materials can help your company deliver both speed and quality on a consistent basis. Interested in learning more strategies for roofing efficiency? Browse the online and in-person courses available from GAF CARE trainers.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Annie Crawford is a freelance writer in Oakland, CA, covering travel, style, and home improvement. Find more of her work at annielcrawford.com.
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