Damage caused by a leaking roof can vary in severity. In extenuating circumstances, areas of a roof where mould formation has caused support beams to rot over time can collapse. Depending on the extent of the damage, repairs can be extremely costly for property owners and disruptive to occupants of the building. Sometimes, water damage can be milder. For example, it may include unsightly water stains on ceilings that are difficult to remove, or lingering musty odours caused by mould. Black mould, which forms in very damp areas, has an especially foul odour and can be harmful if left unchecked. Some of the health issues associated with mould include skin allergies, headaches, allergic rhinitis, asthma and coughing and fever.
Until very recently there was no way for property owners to gauge the level of skills and experience of roof repair and waterproofing contractors in the market. Workmanship in the field ranges from poor and mediocre to good and excellent, depending on the skills and experience of the “roofer” appointed to undertake the roof maintenance, repair or waterproofing. Therefore, appointing a roofing and waterproofing contractor used to be fraught with risk. This is especially considering that insurance companies may decline to repair water damage if roof maintenance, repair and waterproofing are found to be of such an inferior quality that it failed to protect the structure and property inside.
Many property owners are now able to approach the Professional Roof Repair and Waterproofing Association (PRAWA) for advice before appointing a contractor to repair, maintain or waterproof their roofs. They also have direct access to PRAWA’s members who are all bound by a professional code of conduct to which the association holds them accountable. Notably, these professional codes of conduct will also form the basis of minimum quality standards that PRAWA will be introducing to the industry to further help safeguard property owners against substandard workmanship.
“We will never be able to stamp out poor practice in the industry completely. The rise in poor roof repair and waterproofing workmanship is as a result of many unqualified companies having entered the market over the years because there were no controls in place to regulate the industry. Notably, leading insurers have also expressed their concern about the situation. There have been many instances where workmanship has not been guaranteed and, where it has, contractors have not honoured their obligations. We continue to be approached by very frustrated consumers who have received a very poor service from their contractors for assistance. They ask us to assess questionable
workmanship and to help them adjudicate disputes with their contractors. This remains a concern for PRAWA considering that poor workmanship tarnishes the reputation of the entire industry,” Jeanine de Meyer, Operations Manager of PRAWA, says.
Waterproofing is a very technical field and, with the help of PRAWA, it is finally being acknowledged as a professional building trade. De Meyer assisted in the establishment of the first Construction Education and Training Authority-accredited qualification in waterproofing at a National Qualifications Framework Level. This is a solid step taken towards professionalising the industry. There is no reason that roof repair and waterproofing should not be recognised as a formal construction trade. This is considering the vital role that it plays in complementing many of the trades, including the work undertaken by roof truss manufacturers and installers, an industry which has long been regulated and bound by very strict codes of practice.
Once the trusses have been installed, it is the role of the roofer to ensure that the entire structure is protected against the harsh elements. This cover also needs to be maintained at regular intervals by waterproofing and roof repair contractors to ensure that it continues to add value over its entire lifecycle.
“With the wet season fast approaching, many property owners will need to appoint a contractor to waterproof, maintain or repair their roofs. PRAWA looks forward to helping them make an informed decision regarding what exactly needs to be done and who will be able to do the job correctly the first-time round, saving time and money,” De Meyer.