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Msupsic 08-06-2010 08:12 AM

Is this a quality job?
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I have a flat roof house in the Philadelphia suburbs. I recently hired a contractor to replace the built-up roof. Apparently it already had two layers on it and the youngest one was about 20 years old. The old surface was a torch-down modified bitumen.

So, they just finished the job. They banged it out in a day, literally.

The company that did this has been around for about forty years, and is one of the larger, more "reputable" firms in the area. I felt as though I could trust them, and their price was somewhere in the middle of all the quotes we were getting. References were good and I actually talked to people who just had work done by them.

They proposed that we go for another mod bit roof, but they insisted on using the new self-stick stuff instead. They used Certainteed Flintastic, white self-stick. They said it was safer to install and just as good as the torch-down product.

I have a shaky feeling about some of this work. Can you look at this and tell me if this is acceptable or is it shoddy workmanship?

I am especially upset about the ugly presentation on the chimney. It is sloppy, crooked and they used black sealant.

It really makes an otherwise beautiful contemporary home look amateurish. Also, look at the job they did with the vent stack. Is it normal for the contractor to wrap the vent stack like a Christmas gift?

I have already spoken to the contractor about the chimney area. He claims they had to cover some putty that was already there. They could not chisel the putty away or it would damage the stone, and they could not cut into the chimney stone to install cover flashing, as it was too hard. He claims the termination bar approach was the best way to solve the problem.

Some of the other shots here show the other issues I have, like material not completely rolled down to adhere firmly, and the patchy corner jobs. Please note the way the drain scuppers were handled... the 3" inserts were placed over the material, then a patch was cut and placed over the drain insert. Is this the right way to do scupper drains?

So, is this acceptable work or is it just a bunch of gorillas doing a fast and lazy job?

oldognewtrick 08-06-2010 03:53 PM

Marc, Certainteed, Flintlastic is an excellent product, but it, like all roofing materials must be installed correctly and follow the MFG installation specs. One of my crews is finishing a white 50 sq. 2-ply base and cap sheet over new 1-1/2" ISO board as we speak. I like the product a lot. Torch down, IMO, is a thing of the past, from liability to serviceability.

Now, whenever you have a edge that does not terminate on the selvaged edge, you must bed the lap and end seam in a bedding of roof cement. If we would have installed, we would of ground into the stone and installed counter flashing over the tern bar. We use lead pipe boot flashings on the soil stacks and would have installed new drops in the roof drains. You have a roof drain and not really a scupper. At this point, I would insist on the seams being set in a bedding of roof cement and counter flashing installed on the chimney IF it was spelled out on the written estimate you signed prior to the start of work. Look at your contract and see what they specified that they would do.

Msupsic 08-09-2010 01:45 PM

Issues addressed
@oldog, thanks for the suggestions. I actually called Certainteed and talked to them about the proper installation of their material. It is very clear in their installation manual for Flintlastic, that some of this stuff was not done right.

When confronted, the contractor first defended his work, saying that he was not installing a Certainteed-warranty roof therefore did not need to use the product to their standards. He claims that all manufacturers' standards are overkill and do not need to be so strict. His company will warrant the job he did, for five years. But it is not a Certainteed-specification level job, which was not mentioned in the contract. I guess I just assumed a contractor would install the product to manufacturer's specs. C'est la vie.

I actually got the contractor to walk through the job and talk about it step by step with me this morning. He was not actually on Site when the work was done, so he had no idea about how bad some of this stuff was. After I showed him all of these areas of concern, he agreed the job was sloppy and is willing to redo some of it.

He stands by some of the methods used, like sealing off the edge flashing with thin strips of bitumen placed over top of the capping.

He also stood by the wrapping of the vent stack on the upper roof. He called this method a "field wrap," and said it's a common technique used for their public housing projects, where it's a requirement to seal the vent stack without using any caulking products.

He has agreed to a) fix any and all loose strips of bitumen, and to get his guys to roll down all edges and capping better, b) apply a bead of sealant all the way around the edge perimeter, c) add some nice copper flashing over the tern bar on the chimney and d) fix any of the sloppy patches and cuts made to the base material

Fortunately for me, I only paid this guy 1/3 down and still haven't paid in full yet. Sounds like he's willing to work with me, partly because he's a stand-up guy, but also because I have the rest of his dough...

I'll let you know how it works out. He's supposed to send his guys out to fix it all up in the next few days.

oldognewtrick 08-09-2010 02:36 PM

Please don't let him use copper over the turn bar. The metals are not compatible. Also, if he fails to install the product as per the MFG requirements he has negated your material warranty. Remember installation specs are minimums.

Msupsic 08-09-2010 04:08 PM

Okay, the copper was actually my request, I wanted it to look nice. He was going to do a standard aluminum flashing. Didn't think there was an issue.

I understand that aluminum and copper don't mix... oxidation issues. I was going to have him cover the term. bar or remove it completely, and then install the copper.

Thanks for your concern, though.

BridgeMan 08-18-2011 09:10 PM

Sounds like you're on the right track. However, your contractor's full of blue mud if he thinks he can install any product in accordance with his standards instead of those of the product manufacturer. He's probably told that line to so many gullible homeowners, he's at a point where he believes it himself.

Take a look at your State's Residential Building Code, specifically the section on roofing. I think you'll find wording that requires any and all work by contractors to comply with manufacturers' installation instructions for the product used. As mentioned in a previous post, your warranty runs out in 5 years (sooner, if the contractor quits the business), and any Certainteed material warranty will not be honored if they can prove the product was not installed in accordance with their requirements. Also, make sure that all of the corrective work is done as per Certainteed's standards, as well.

I've heard professional roofers testify under oath that they don['t need any manufacturer telling them how to install a roof, since they've been doing it their way for XXX years without any problems. And that, even though done in noncompliance with their State Residential Building Codes.

Good luck.

Msupsic 08-19-2011 07:58 AM

The Jury is Out
Since the last post, we had quite a few issues with leaks in the house. No sooner than the first rain, we had a waterfall in our kitchen. I took extensive movies and pictures.

I let the contractor have it - and surprisingly, he was willing to fix everything. They came out and did a few flood tests and saw it for themselves. There was nothing they could argue with.

They resealed all seams, and patched over them with the white ceramic dust to cover up the black sealer. They found a good part of the leaking problem came from where the material sloped up and against the side of the house, so they ran the material further up and installed side moulding to completely close off the gap between the wall and siding.

At this point, I am satisfied with the amount of work they have done to fix the problem. From a business standpoint, they probably spent more time fixing the problems than they did actually doing the installation properly.

So, at this point, I have a sealed roof that seems to have no problems. But I still know that this job wasn't done right. I'm not sure if I should just let it go, or open up a can of worms and go back and check the building code now?

Thoughts? Thanks.

BridgeMan 08-19-2011 07:56 PM

Sounds like the can of worms is already open, thanks to your roofer's mindset of doing things his way instead of complying with the product manufacturer's requirements.

If I were you, I would make a point of thoroughly documenting every single instance of leakage and sloppy workmanship, including pix and detailed written descriptions. That way, you'll have some ammunition for when you need it (when more leaks develop, as I suspect they will).

oldognewtrick 08-20-2011 05:03 AM

Once again I would say look at the scope of work on the proposal and what does it say about the installation specs as far as how it will be applied and what is the warranty coverage? This is why it is so important that when someone gives you a written proposal, it states the materials used, how it will be installed, warranty period and cost of the project. This becomes a legal document when signed by both parties.

After a scope of work is established, if the contractor provides what he has established in his proposal and you signed it, he has meet his obligations. This is why it is important for a homeowner to understand exactly what will be the final product, so theres no over promised, under delivered expectations at the end of the job.

And be sure to keep the roof clear of debris and the drains clean. Avoid foot traffic as much as possible, if you have to get on the roof, do so at the coolest part of the day and wear soft sole shoes.

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