A New Way of Roofing Post COVID-19
by Richard K. Olson, president & technical director, Tile Roofing Industry Alliance
(Editor’s Note: Richard K. Olson is president and technical director for the Tile Roofing Industry Alliance. The association represents industry professionals involved in the manufacturing and installation of concrete and clay tile roofs in the United States and Canada, and works with national, state, and local building officials to develop installation techniques, codes, and standards for better roofing systems. Olson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Our ability to predict the building construction world post COVID-19 is almost impossible to understand at this point. With continued lockdowns and social distancing in affect for much of the country, we are just beginning the preliminary discussions for how a restart of the business sector will happen. One thing we know, business will have to be flexible and fluid as we implement new strategies and restrictions moving forward. For roofing professionals, this will require patience, adaptation, and greater self-monitoring post COVID-19.
The Tile Roofing Industry Alliance is working both regionally and nationally to help create coalitions of influencers to help get congressional and local actions to allow our roofing sector to continue to work. Our efforts are covering labor classifications, clarity on OSHA regulations for COVID-19, and how funding can be made available to small businesses involved in our local communities. It will take time for the builders to gain confidence, as well as for the supply chain to respond with product services and funding resources. Most likely we will see certain aspects of roofing influence that process, and the roofing contractor should be aware of them.
While many companies have been able to retain their workforce, there are those that have been forced to furlough portions of their crews. Other trades may see earlier work demands that will change the composition of the workforce in localized areas. Furloughed workers may transition to other markets that show greater promise in the short term.
Current Contract Reviews
When COVID-19 hit, there were most likely projects underway that were halted. Roofing professionals should review those contracts for language that covers the unforeseen interruption, and then develop a plan for how to move forward to completion. This review may require re-negotiation for timing, labor shortage material supply availability, and reduced efficiency due to new restrictions imposed as a result of COVID-19 regulations.
Projects Out For Bid
With the economic hit, there will be new requirements for construction financing that might change the projects out to bid, requiring a reduced change in scope. As roofing professionals, we should be revisiting our bids and securing updates and revisions that include updated funding and understanding scheduling benchmarks for completion.
Material Supply Chains
Smaller companies may have reduced inventories, work force, or have other financial constraints as a result of COVID-19. Others have been transitional and may be offering additional services or product lines to meet the new demands of the market. Roofing professionals should review projects and material needs and reach out to suppliers to gain insight into the roll out of materials.
Building departments and inspectors may have new restrictions and challenges that will require more detailed or longer response times for project approvals. We should be utilizing this time to connect with the building departments for learning and incorporating the new requirements or procedural changes we will be seeing.
During this time, there have been transitions of work responsibilities for those still on the job. The previously highly trained and cohesive crews may not exist. This is a great time to train your workforce on proper safety and installation for your upcoming projects.
As always, the roofing industry will learn to pivot and adapt to meet the needs of the market and our workforce needs. Roofing is a primary need in the construction process, and those willing to re-invent how they do business will come out stronger moving forward.