Roof maintenance and repair problems in Sydney

Sometimes, you can get lucky (like getting your roof repaired by The Roofing Professionals Westside).

Usually NOT (Based on horror stories about roof repairs that we have come across).

If you have not been able to do regular roof maintenance work and your roof has sprung a leak, what do you do?

If you are like most people, you reach out to Google to find you a good roof repair specialist. Amongst the top listings for Sydney roofing contractors who provide roof repair and roof maintenance services, will be the ‘directory’ companies. These will say that they have the

’10 Best roof repair specialists in Sydney’

These service companies will take your details and auction you to their database of roofers near you. If you are lucky, you get to tell these three Sydney roofers what your leaking roof problem is. Usually, they don’t even take the time to listen to you and instead, proceed to tell you what they think your problem is.

 

Then you get to choose your best roof repair specialist.

Perhaps the cheapest roof repair contractor will do. Human nature favours the roofing contractor with the price in the middle. Maybe, it is not the price. It is your ‘gut feel’ of the roofer who seems to know his ‘stuff’. Ultimately, you call upon ‘Lady Luck’ and hope that you have chosen correctly.

Then (fingers crossed), you wait for the next heavy rain. Often, both you and the roof repair contractor are in luck. The roof leak has been stopped.

… But sometimes, you are both out of luck. And if you manage to get the roof repairer back to have another go at fixing the roof leak, luck is still on your side. Often, after many more attempts to solve the continuing roof leak problem, luck runs out and you both give up.

I get these requests through my website when homeowners’ luck run out:

…contracted trades aren’t able to resolve the issue or detect the entry point. box gutter leak is damaging alfresco ceiling below..

Homeowner 1

“..Rain coming through the ceiling crevice and down the walls bubbling the paint. Has been fixed recently but obviously not properly so I need someone who knows what they are doing. Thanks for your help

Homeowner 2

In the last couple of decades, The Roofing Professionals Westside has been the ‘Ghost busters’ of the Sydney roof maintenance and repair game.

When luck runs out and all else fails, it is time to call in the roof repair specialist who is silly enough to guarantee stopping roof leaks for good – or MORE than your money back.

The trick is to find the cause of the roof leak

Roof maintenance and insurance roof repairs - lessons learnt

COVID-19 in 2020 and the latest Delta variant in mid-2021 gives us an opportunity to reflect on all the lessons that we have learnt about repairing roofs in Sydney. We had to slow down during the virus lockdowns. And in the slow down, we had the time to take a fresh look at why and how roofs leak. We then started documenting the methods of repair – so that this knowledge can be passed on to others in the roof repair industry. There are reports that the February 2020 rains caused the insurance companies about $800 million in claims. Insurance companies could not find enough roofing contractors in Sydney to assess damage claims to roofs. And as usual, in times of low supply, the insurance companies had to rely on low skilled roof repair specialists to do their assessments. We have seen many insurance assessments on leaking roofs. Most of them have been proven to be totally useless and misleading. Especially when a roof assessment merely consisted of a DRONE inspection. A lot of insurance roof assessment reports concluded that the roof leaks during the storms were due to

Lack of Roof Maintenance by the homeowner..

and therefore the insurance claims were refused. The roof reports made matters worse for the homeowner by listing general maintenance roof repairs that had to be carried out before the insurance company could finalise the insurance claim. Eventually, when the homeowner calls us in, we discover a multitude of reason why the roof leaks were so hard to pin down by the insurance roofing contractors – and their most appropriate ways of repairing them were not correct. Through all this, we finally realised that the main lesson learnt was just a lack of ‘roof repair’ knowledge amongst the ‘best’ roofers operating in Sydney. If Sydney roofers were better trained to identify the causes of roof leaks and had a comprehensive ‘tool box’ of repair methods, then homeowners will best served by the roof repair industry. The second lesson we have learnt is that we are still ‘juveniles’ in this game. We consider ourselves as veterans in the game of finding the causes of roof leaks – yet we continue to prove ourselves wrong. Every day, I come up with surprises. There is always a roof leak that breaks our current state of knowledge. We still learn. Every day.

Roofers who install roofs don’t know how to repair them properly

I have hired lots of roofers and I have kept only a few. These are the ones who are willing to learn how to repair leaking roofs properly. It is amazing that there are still roofing contractors in Sydney who are not aware of the basic perils of low pitched corrugated iron roofs. Automotive assemblers build cars and a car mechanics repair them. There is no such distinction in the roofing industry. All roofers start off putting roofs together. Only a few end up fixing faulty roofs. And they are all broadly classified as roofers with the skills to do roof repairs properly. If you take workers out from a car assembly plant and present them with broken down cars, you will have a messy result. I have used a lot of good roofing contractors on roof repair work, and the results have also been very messy. Even good roof installers don’t know how to fix the tricky roof leaks. Simple faults like lack of weep holes go unnoticed. We have all heard of the super smart characters in the finance industry. They invent sub-primes and derivatives to fool ordinary folks. The construction industry is the mirror opposite. All the actual work is performed by ‘blue collar’ workers who drew the short straw when brains were handed out. Roof installers can be high in skill. But most are low on what it takes to repair a leaking roof properly. We don’t need to be brilliant thinkers to create works of art. There are a lot of skilled construction workers out there who can do work that ‘Mr brain’ would have no hope of duplicating. But there is a pecking order in the building industry. Carpenters are where the smart cohorts hang out, followed by electricians and plumbers. Roofers and scaffolders tend towards the bottom of the pile. And surround themselves with a culture that prevents lifelong learning. And it is a life of learning if a roofing tradesman wants to be good at repairing leaking roofs. Most roofing tradesmen struggle through their TAFE course and their employers seldom have the capacity to properly train them. This leads to the unfortunate culture of this industry. That of: “following outdated ‘industry practice’, copying bad habits and inventing shortcuts.” In such a training environment for Sydney roofers, there is no learning path for the proper understanding of how roof elements work and this means that blotched roof repair jobs become the norm. To know how to treat homeowners honestly, and deliver the promise of excellence in providing a roof repair service – takes a lot of training.

Why are quotes generally ‘FREE’ in the Construction business?

‘Is the quote free?” Homeowners often ask me this question when they want me to inspect their roof to find out where the roof leak is coming from, come up with a appropriate roof repair solution, and spend time providing a comprehensive quote to fix the roof leak. But I hardly ever ask this same question anywhere else where I spend my money. Why should a service… like providing a comprehensive roof repair quote – be free? I pay whatever the barista asks for when I pick up my coffee. I spend lots of money at Coles and Woolies without once asking for a quote. My mechanic just tells me what I owe him when I pick up my ute after a service. I get a bill at the end of my restaurant meal and the only question I ask myself is “should I leave a small tip and actually pay MORE than what is on the bill?” Yet the building industry in Australia is locked into the expectation that a free quote should be provided first. Just to be in the running to have a chance to tender for any work. The roofing industry here in Sydney has followed this tradition and free roof repair quotes are the norm. I worked for multiple building companies in my youth and the estimating departments (I even spent some time in some of them) spent hundreds of thousands of dollars preparing tenders. These departments did not get shut down when their work went into the bin on failed quotes. Our roofing company is still viable – after decades of providing free roof repair quotes. So, who paid for all these estimating costs? Someone… somewhere has to pay for all those free quotes. Because we spend much of our lives asking the wrong questions, so we get fooled by the wrong answers. I think the correct question that a homeowner should ask me is: “Will I be charged for you to do a roof inspection and provide me with a quote for the roof repair work?” “Of course!” would be my answer. But.. “Only if you decide that you want us to do the roof repair work – if you decide not to proceed, we will not charge you.” “That is not fair!” Most people would think. But the reality is that life is indeed not fair. Our philosophy is that we do not ask anyone to pay us UNTIL we have acceptance that we have provided them with something of value. Fixing a roof leak for good is the value that we can provide you. We may take the trouble of turning up at your property, doing a thorough investigation/inspection and then putting together a detailed quote for you. But if you decide not to go ahead, then all this work is of no value to you. We have not solved your leaking roof problem yet. Therefore, we should not charge you for this service. Another one of our clients will pay for this cost on your behalf. They will have their roof leaks repaired properly by us. And they are happy to pay. This is roof economics101.

Guarantees on roof repair work?

Every car comes with a manufacturer’s warranty – and there is a process to ensure that these warranties are honoured. If you bought a car manufactured between 1996 and 2000, it may have been fitted with defective Takata NADI 5-AT airbags. To date, over 3.5 million of these have been replaced. However, if you had a house built in Sydney and the roof leaks, you have a slim chance of getting it repaired by the builder under home warranty. And remember that all house builders use roofers who are installers. Not roof repairers. So the chance that the builder’s roofer can do the repair properly is severely diminished. Consumer protection for faulty building workmanship is generally very messy in Australia. Most homeowners I have spoken to, just ‘give up’ after many failed attempts to get roof repairs done under warranty When we started doing roofing work, we copied everyone else. Installing new roofs and replacing roofs was our target market. Then, we slowly got to participate in the roof repair game. It was not fun to start with – because we were usually presented with tricky roof leaks which we could not repair properly. We usually lost money on roof repair jobs when we had to do more than two attempts. …And we learnt why a lot of roofing companies end up giving a 7 year warranty on new roof work and only a 6 month warranty of roof repair work. Even though we knew that the roof repair market in Sydney was challenging, I decided to build this side of the roofing business. I am an ‘outlier’ at heart. The last decade in the roof repair business has given us the ‘edge’ that is needed to succeed. We now know a lot more about how roof elements work and how water on a roof behaves. With confidence comes certainty. When we know that we have the expertise to fix a roof leak properly, then providing a warranty does not frighten us anymore. A lot of our roof repairs are over 7 years old and still watertight. And since the 7 year period is common in the building industry, we now simply state that New roof is 7 years and a roof repair is the same – 7 years warranty. But, there is no such thing as perfection in this world. We do have leaks that take us many attempts. And we also give the homeowner the choice of a full refund – where they can even have more that 100% money back on their roof repairs. To date, we have only one householder who decided to take the offer of a roof repair refund. There were two distinct separate roof leaks at this house. One was repaired successfully. But the other chimney leak persisted. After our 7th attempt at the leaking chimney, there was a bit of frustration (on both sides!). We offered a refund – which was accepted on the condition that it was a full refund on the TOTAL invoice (that was to repair the two separate leaks). We made a total loss on this job and since the householder was reluctant to let us persevere, the money went back into their bank account. There were many lessons learnt from this roof repair and I was glad to do the ‘more that 100% money back guarantee”.

What is the next step?

Congratulations! You have taken the time to read this far and your persistence will have its rewards. If you ask us to repair your roof, our promise is to make sure that it is done with all the expertise that we have accumulated – or your money back. Most people don’t want their money back. They just want their roof leak fixed. What I cannot promise is that everyone who makes contact with us will get their problems resolved. We have a severe problem with the availability of good roof repairers and this has meant that only a portion of people who make a request on this website will be served in a timely manner. I have phones – but I do not usually pick up. I do respond to text messages – but they are inefficient. So, if you have decided that NOW is the time to get hold of a Sydney roofer who can fix your roof properly, the best way is to REACH OUT and book in your roof inspection now. There is a calendar for you to book in a firm date and time for your roof repair inspection and also our ‘old’ contact form if your requirements are a bit different. Do this, and we will come out and do a free roof inspection for you and quote for that roof repair or replacement that you need. See you sometime soon.