Beneath the Skin of Single Ply – What Architects should ask before they Specify

Many of the modern single ply roofing membranes on the market today are perceived as being the same. In fact as far as performance and accreditations are concerned, that’s probably true. But it isn’t the whole story.

Specifiers are beginning to understand that the core difference between these products isn’t really the membranes themselves. What matters is the rest; everything that goes towards the product being installed correctly, efficiently and reliably on their projects, time after time.

This is the case whether you are in a design team for a main contractor (an increasingly strong influence as far as specification is concerned), an architect in a more traditional role, or the client themselves.

The Design & Build world we live in might suggest that price is the key to choosing membranes. But price should never be the main consideration for any product. A good quality team are actually looking at value not price, and value has to include the entire process and outcomes, maximising returns and minimising risk.

What to ask about Single Ply Roofing Membranes

Assuming the correct accreditations are available, here are the key things to consider when specifying single ply membranes, and the key questions you should ask your supplier or manufacturer before you decide on a product.

1. Quality of Installers

The quality of the product is only ever as good as the guys who install it on your roof. How do you know that your roofing contractor does good quality work? Typically if a roofing system fails, it is the product that is blamed at first, but poor installation is much more likely to be the cause.

Ask your Supplier: How do you monitor the quality of your installers?

2. Stock Availability and Logistics

The best, cheapest product in the world is no good if your contractor can’t get it when he needs it. Materials must be available for purchase and delivered on time, with consistency. If delays mean your project can’t be completed on time this can cause significant problems – every day a hotel cannot open, for example, will cost thousands of pounds. Your contractor may be able to pass on the contracharges on to your client, or to you.

Ask your Supplier: How readily available is stock for contractors to purchase?

3. Technical Support

Even the best and most experienced contractor can come across problematic situations on the roof. Design support is vital, not only in the early stages but right into the contract. During the Design & Build process designs are often altered during construction. You need a technical specialist to make sure the right decisions are made when that happens, or things can get very expensive.

Ask your Supplier: Is design support available throughout the project, including on site?

4. Site Inspections

Don’t underestimate the importance of face-to-face site visits between the product supplier and contractor. No matter how experienced the installer, each roofing installation must be policed responsibly, otherwise all the training in the world can count for nothing.

Ask your Supplier: What site inspection programme do you offer, and how well are installations policed to ensure the product is installed as I specified?

5. On-going Contractor Training

Products change all the time, and new improved methods are installing them continue to become available. Our weekly on-going training programmes ensure that contractors are up to speed with the latest approved methods. Make sure your products will be installed with this level of expertise.

Ask your Supplier: What training do you offer to contractors and how accessible is it?

6. Products and Supplier Track Record

The company you are working with and the product they are supplying has to have credibility, because your reputation is going to be riding on that choice. So make sure you are satisfied with the credibility of both the company who are delivering the product, and the product itself. Find out what third parties you can talk to who can satisfy you of this.

Ask your Supplier: Is the system well established in the marketplace with a proven track record of quality installations? Can you provide me with a list of satisfied customers I can talk to?

More Information

We hope these questions will help you make the right choice of Single Ply roofing membranes. Of course, here at SIG Design and Technology we provide positive answers to all these questions. If you’d like to talk to us about the credibility of our service, or finding the right products for your project, just get in touch.

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