This is a complex question.
One answer to this question involves how the installer is paid by his company. Some roofing companies have employees that are paid by how much square footage they can install in a day. In essence, they are being paid "by the roofing square" instead of being paid "by the hour."
A roofing "square" is 100 square feet on the roof. The more squares a roofer can install in a day, the more money the installer will make. This is a huge incentive for the installer to move as fast as he can … without worrying about the consequences. This is also a recipe for short changing quality. The tendency is that quality can become sacrificed for volume.
Piece-working has always had the roofing company's and the product installer's best interest in mind … Not yours.
It's 3:00 pm, the day's almost over and that guy on your roof has not yet "made wages," he is running a little behind. Why? He just ran out of stainless steel nails and the premium version of ridge cap pieces. He has 50 feet to go. He knows he can "stretch" the materials (over exposing them thus voiding the warranty) to "make it work," and there are some cheaper chromated (non-stainless) nails sitting in his truck from the last job … it's just the last few squares of the job anyway … who's going to know. What is the most probable outcome of this scenario?
A) The installer puts down his nailing gun, calls the office for more stainless steel nails and ridge cap, and loses out on making his day's pay while he waits for the materials to come to him from the office.
B) The installer pauses for a minute. He reflects on the bills he has to pay, feels a little frustrated that the estimator miscalculated supplies again … and considers that, after all, it isn't HIS fault … and why should his family suffer due to the sloppy skill set of the office staff? He decides to stretch the material and use substandard nails.
Is this roofer going to put down his nailing gun, call the office and wait 30-45 minutes for the right nails and rest of the materials to show? The many failed roofs we get called to fix each year give the answer: NO. Piece-workers have a bad reputation in our industry for cutting corners and doing shoddy work. What type of shoddy work?
(1) Wild nailing resulting in future product blow off
(2) Damaging material from foot traffic across the new roof on a hot day (they take the shortest route to the truck … across your brand new materials)
(3) Stretching of material
(4) Unprofessional looking / non-functioning details, coursing, flashing and reglets
All of the above are some of the unthinkable by-products of "Hurry-Up" roofing. You can't expect the best practice roofing techniques to show up in a roof installation where there is literally no time to do them.
So having examined it, why do some companies still piece-work? The lure is that they will appear to be cheaper than their competition, which means winning more jobs … which, in turn, means more profit for the business owner.
It takes time to install roofing details correctly. When no one is looking, it takes less time to leave best practice roofing elements out. Time equals real job costs and real money. It's as simple as that. Consider the hourly wage company … it's part of your best bet for highest quality!
Piece-work roofing originated when roofing owners became tired of lazy employees taking advantage of the scope of work by "milking the job" out longer. Naturally, the plan became "I will pay you a days pay only if you install a certain amount of roofing." The problem with this seemingly fair trade agreement between the Boss and the Employee is that piece-working evolved far past that simple exchange. If a piece-worker really applies himself, and skips half his breaks, and works madly at a wildly accelerated pace, he can install almost double what the Boss expects him to install each day.
The current rate for easy shingle jobs is about $15 to $18 paid for every 100 square feet of roofing installed. A professional roofer, who pays attention to detail and makes craftsmanship part of his daily routine, can install about 1,000 to 1,500 square feet of roofing each day. The piece-worker can almost double that. The piece-worker can make nearly double the hourly wage with little or no blood, sweat and tears.
The choice is simple. The choice is yours. There is a problem however … and it's your problem. You might not see the piece-workers problem for awhile but, chances are, it is there regardless. We see wild shingle nailing, shingles nailed high, broken slates caulked back together on the back 2 story side where the owner can't see, missed nails, cheap EZ-Rust nails that allow your shingles to blow off when the nails rust out.
We see the cut corners on the flashing details, the faded valley metal paint (one quick coat … it's good enough so hurry up!). We see pipe jacks lifting up due to missed nailing … the list is long. So sure, you went with the cheapest price and that contractor guaranteed the roof for 10 years, but usually these major flaws only start to show trouble at year 10 when the roofer's warranty expires. See?
(1) Caulking broken roof tiles or slates instead of replacing them, leaving a leaky underlayment, hiding potential dry rot damage.
(2) Installation of felt underlayment with sloppy hammer tacker staples that can sit crooked on the roof and leave you vulnerable to wind damage while the shingles get installed (Hammer tackers are quicker, thus the piece-worker makes more money using them). Hammer taker staples can back out over time and cause damage.
(3) Burying old flashing, not taking the time to pull siding, chimney counter flashing and other roof to wall assemblies apart properly so that new flashing can be installed correctly.
(4) Shoddy work due to time restraints; Piece-workers often perform without enough material (i.e. nails, underlayment, flashing, caulking, paint, roof felt, etc.) leaving the job with stretched coursing or under secured roof product, creating SAFETY HAZARDS, wind blow offs, and roof details with open gaps exposing the roof felt to decay from UV exposure, and bucking water underlayment or flashing.
(5) Piece-workers operating without adequate safety equipment and without Workers Compensation Insurance. This leaves the property owner responsible for high risk potential Employee Bodily Injury Claims. There is a reason roofing insurances are the highest in the construction world … it's because roofers get injured far more than any other trade.
(6) Safety hazards in your home and building. There simply is NO TIME to secure the bundles of materials correctly in the piece-worker's world. It's always a roll of the dice. Bundles falling off roofs without proper slide guards are a big safety hazard.
(7) Payroll Fraud: Workers Compensation stipulates piece-worker rates must be converted from volume produced to an hourly rate that is difficult at best to compute, to include payroll deductions for employer paid EDD, State and Federal Taxes that can result in (partial cash payments) that may not include state and federal tax deductions, which links to payroll fraud while on your project.
(8) Pay Scale Issues. Piece-worker pay scales are considered one of the highest in the roofing industry, and in order to maintain that income level; unsupervised piece-workers have far more temptation to sacrifice quality for volume … to make more money!
(9) Piece-worker's shoddy workmanship resulting in a leaking roof is a real problem. However, due to California's seasonal 6 month droughts, shoddy workmanship is seldom challenged until the next heavy rains.
Of course, not all piece-workers produce shoddy workmanship, and those that are diligent have repaired or attempted roof leak repairs. However, they often leave resulting damage to be resolved at the property owner's expense. Many piece-workers are out of business shortly. Once the shoddy workmanship is discovered, owner will not want that company back.
REQUEST A QUOTE
Avoiding a home-improvement nightmare is easy... as long as you know what questions to ask.
Since 1950, Ross Roofing has been properly servicing customers in the local area. We know how to treat you right... but don't take our word for it. Listen to what others have to say!
Buy a new roof & we'll send you on a cruise for 2.