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Hello, I found this site over at Contractor Talk (We are commercial GC’s) and am hoping to get some great advice for my current situation. We are located up in the Pacific NW and had a tremendous amount of snow drop in just a short time the end of December/January. To get to the point, we had 5 crews getting snow off of numerous commercial roofs and successfully removed many thousands for square feet with out any significant damage except for one EPDM roof. This roof was shoveled just as the weather changed and the temps started to rise. On this roof, we used a dozen men from one of our subcontractors. These men managed to puncture about 200-300 holes including tears before we got it stopped. We immediately removed these men, met with our roofer and began patching all the holes and tears at once with our carpenters and roofing sub. Within the week, we managed to patch all noticeable punctures and had the work reviewed by a consultant and approved. We replaced all ceiling tiles, patched and painted walls and dried and re-set carpet. Everything was good until….. 3 weeks ago along with some rain we had 5 more leaks. We traced them down and repaired. No leaks. Last week, it rained again and 100 more tears were discovered! Now there have been well over 12 different sets of eyes on this project, Owner’s rep, consultant, subcontractor, my Superintendent and my very own to boot yet we never saw these before. Here is the question. The consultant has indicated that the roof (30,000sf) is a 45 mil that is 12 years old. He spotted several seams that were bad, screw heads coming through as well as numerous other issues, etc. (The client has had many issues on this roof and many repairs prior to us shoveling) Is it possible that these new tears are a result from the roof giving out it’s self? Is some of this guilt by association or is it all due to our error? I want to be fair (Current costs out of pocket for the repairs exceed $12,000) but the cost is going to kill me. The clients have asked for a price to re-roof this year which we are submitting proposals on to them this week. In the meantime, should we just continue to repair at our cost or draw the line? By the way, the owner rep is in the column that it is our fault, etc and thus our responsibility to fix. But is it? Thanks for the advice and advanced apologies for rambling. Best Regards, Boyer.
 

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First off you should have had an exclusion in your contracto stating that you are not responsible for damage to the roof as a result of removing the snow. Infact I tell my customers they've got a 50/50 shot that we'll cause damage to the roof and if so to repair it is on their buck. In addition, an unscrupulous customer may say old leaks are new to get you to pay for them.

Sounds like you have an unscrupulous customer. Screw pops and seam tears are the fault of the original roofer and/or normal wear and tear depending on the roof age. Rips and tears are your fault, but are pretty darned hard to avoid, which is why I play the CYA game I mentioned above.

Since you used a subcontractor you can always go after his insurance, if he has any. I've said before my opinions of consultants, and if you do some searching you can find it here in this forum. Just remember the consultants job is to make sure the customers gets a good roof installed as cheaply as possible. You paying for it, is pretty damned cheap to the customer!

Well you are in a situation, and hopefully you learn from your mistakes so that you are not back in the same situation again. CYA, but here is how I'd handle it now... You and the consultant have inspected the roof and you fixed everything they asked you to fix. These rips are new and wern't existing at the time of inspection. You are willing to give them the benefit of the doubt and fix them at your expense IF and ONLY IF they give you a signed conract and monetary commitment now.

Otherwise I'd draw the line. However expect to end up in court. Then you have to ask yourself will paying a lawyer be cheaper then fixing the roof? Well You've already invested $12, how much more will it cost you? That's how I base alot of my decisions, will it be cheaper to fix than to argue? And is this customer trying to get over on me? If I feel like I am being taken advantage of, I will stone wall and fight on principal alone. However if I feel the customer is being genuine I decide which is heaper fixing it or using the lawyer to argue.
 

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Personally I think you are screwed. No matter what condition the roof was in before you got there, you tore it up and made it worse.....and cannot return it to the condition you found it in.

I would expect an IR scan to come in at some point to show how much moisture is now in the assembly due to the damage.

I am also guessing the guys from your subcontractor were probably landscapers or such who destroyed the roof....we see that ALL the time on the East Coast.

Its commendable that you are at least trying to make things right but i don't see how you are not going to get stuck with this. You should have used roofers to clear the snow.... they would at least know how to handle an EPDM roof and make repairs on the spot.

I would be pissed too if I was the owner... 12 years is not that old and may even still be under warranty. The EPDM sheet itself will last a lifetime, its the seams /details that cause all teh problems. You wont find tears in EPDM occuring naturally, esp at 12 years.

Good Luck and use a roofer next time!
 

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Hello, I found this site over at Contractor Talk (We are commercial GC’s) and am hoping to get some great advice for my current situation. We are located up in the Pacific NW and had a tremendous amount of snow drop in just a short time the end of December/January. To get to the point, we had 5 crews getting snow off of numerous commercial roofs and successfully removed many thousands for square feet with out any significant damage except for one EPDM roof. This roof was shoveled just as the weather changed and the temps started to rise. On this roof, we used a dozen men from one of our subcontractors. These men managed to puncture about 200-300 holes including tears before we got it stopped. We immediately removed these men, met with our roofer and began patching all the holes and tears at once with our carpenters and roofing sub. Within the week, we managed to patch all noticeable punctures and had the work reviewed by a consultant and approved. We replaced all ceiling tiles, patched and painted walls and dried and re-set carpet. Everything was good until….. 3 weeks ago along with some rain we had 5 more leaks. We traced them down and repaired. No leaks. Last week, it rained again and 100 more tears were discovered! Now there have been well over 12 different sets of eyes on this project, Owner’s rep, consultant, subcontractor, my Superintendent and my very own to boot yet we never saw these before. Here is the question. The consultant has indicated that the roof (30,000sf) is a 45 mil that is 12 years old. He spotted several seams that were bad, screw heads coming through as well as numerous other issues, etc. (The client has had many issues on this roof and many repairs prior to us shoveling) Is it possible that these new tears are a result from the roof giving out it’s self? Is some of this guilt by association or is it all due to our error? I want to be fair (Current costs out of pocket for the repairs exceed $12,000) but the cost is going to kill me. The clients have asked for a price to re-roof this year which we are submitting proposals on to them this week. In the meantime, should we just continue to repair at our cost or draw the line? By the way, the owner rep is in the column that it is our fault, etc and thus our responsibility to fix. But is it? Thanks for the advice and advanced apologies for rambling. Best Regards, Boyer.

Why didn't you just put the entire claim into your General Liability Insurance providers hands?

You would only be out your deductible.

Or, do you carry any insurance?

Ed
 

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Why didn't you just put the entire claim into your General Liability Insurance providers hands?

You would only be out your deductible.
Ya know, Ed brings up a good point. We all have insurance, but me personally would never dream of using it. I dunno, that's how I was raised I guess but the LAST thing I want on any of my insurance policies is a claim (especially my life insurance :) ) INfact I didn't even consider it an option, but man for $12k I may have to put it on my insurance... and he may still be able to.
 

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Ya know, Ed brings up a good point. We all have insurance, but me personally would never dream of using it. I dunno, that's how I was raised I guess but the LAST thing I want on any of my insurance policies is a claim (especially my life insurance :) ) INfact I didn't even consider it an option, but man for $12k I may have to put it on my insurance... and he may still be able to.
Thank you all for your comments. Grumpy is correct. In Washington State, Liability insurances is getting harder and more expensive to get every year. Even though we have been in business since 2000 and never had a claim, we are trying to use it only as a last case scenario. And while it is easy to make a statement like "next time use a roofer" at this period of time ALL roofing companies were out shoveling and in fact, we were contracted out by roofers needing the help. At one point, in our town,there were over 18,000 men shoveling roofs. This all took place during Christmas and new years. Yes, we should have had a contract. Unfortunately for us we do not have the Webster’s Book of contracts for any and every situation....next time I will. Think of it like this. In a medical emergency (some one is trapped in a burning building) do you just wait until the pros get there or do you do your best to help the person out the best that you can? Well the latter was how things were that time. We were getting 2-3 calls per hour and of course none of the folks who are authorized to sign contracts were in town. You are right- we did take a huge risk, but we took that risk and now, out of the 30 plus roofs we cleared, 1 is bad. I guess rather than get a lecture from how we should have done things---I was looking to this board and forum for advice on how to handle things now. We really do want the best for our clients and even if that means more out of our pocket, then that is the right approach. On the other hand, if the client’s expectations are too unreasonable given the evidence I presented, then I would be also obligated to draw the line too. I presume that you are all experts, which is why I presented my questions to experts. Now that I have these opinions you all graciously gave, I will review and figure out our next move using your suggestions. Thank you all and I hope you a very successful and prosperous year.
 

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For $ 12,000.00 I would still put the claim through. Thats not chicken feed you are talking about, plus all of the future potential liabilities that still may come about. Thats what you have insurance for, isn't it? But, they need to be notified in a timely manner, otherwise they have an exclusion clause to deny you the coverage, so that damages can be mitigated at the earliest possible time frame.

I have a $1,000.00 deductible.

If a claim would get over $2,000.00 that is when I would consider putting the claim through.

I had one home owner Insist that I put a claim through for a very small leak, which would up being denied by my carrier and subrogated to the home owners insurance company instead.

It did not affect my rates at all.

The irony of that home owner claim, is that I had a painter/drywall contractor available to start immediately and I would have paid the $ 400.00 to $ 500.00 out of pocket no problem, but since the husband wanted a record of it, in the event of any future mold issues, he insisted that a claim be filed. As far as I know, they were still haggling out the issues 2 months later.

My insurance company adjuster stated that any reasonable home owner has to assume some liability when doing a complete tear-off also. I never heard that before, but who am I to argue, when the decision was in my favor.

By the way, this was due to a freak mid-afternoon summer storm that came out of nowhere without any warning on a 12/12 cape cod. The felt and tarps withstood 2 consecutive downpours plus over 60 mile per hour gusts, but another one that occurred overnight ripped up one small corner of a tarp at a valley at one of the dormers.

Ed
 

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I don't have a websters dictionary of contracts either. When I sit down to write a legal binding document I just think of what might go wrong and make sure to address it in writing. What is including? What's specificaly excluded, it's all in writing. I want no suprises.
 

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Thank you all for your comments.

Think of it like this. In a medical emergency (some one is trapped in a burning building) do you just wait until the pros get there or do you do your best to help the person out the best that you can?

Unfortunately the sad fact is if you decided to risk your life to save this person and something happened during the rescue that caused an injury to the rescue victim, they could sue you for injuries sustained during the rescue.

You are right- we did take a huge risk, but we took that risk and now, out of the 30 plus roofs we cleared, 1 is bad. I guess rather than get a lecture from how we should have done things---I was looking to this board and forum for advice on how to handle things now.

Yes it was a huge risk and it came back to bite you. Call your insurance agent, although very few like to make claims I cannot think of a better situation where insurance is called for and justification for paying it.
Even if you call in insurance keep a open dialog with property manager or owner. The way you work through this will say much about what type of company you are and may actually get you work in the future.
 

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I disagree with any EPDM sheet lasting a lifetime.
 

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I kinda agree with Aaron because "lifetime" is a vague term. Lifetime of what? The building? The owner? The roofer? However I have see quite a few that are over 20 years old and only need a seam restoration, with the field sheets beingin very good condition.

I'd like to see some of the seam restorations I have done in 10 years from the restoration date and see how the roof's looking. I can make a decision on the "lifetime" comment then.
 

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I think of it this way....
you might trust a 20 year old rubber roof that hasn't needed maintenance
but...would you trust a 20 year bungee cord if you were jumping off a bridge?
 

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We have come across epdm sheets that have failed 10-15 years into their life span. In all instances they were installed in inverted roofing systems.
It appeared as if the sheets were drying out and cracking.

On mechanically fastened systems I have found sheets that are 15-20 years are under much stress as a result of membrane shrinkage, any defects within the sheet itself, small nicks etc will often fail as a result of the stress.
 

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I fear that the same thing is going to happen to the Garden Roofs, with soil and vegetative growth to be a Green Roof will happen, just like the IRMA Roofs from around 30 years ago.

Ed
 

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My opinion is that anyone who uses an EPDM sheet for a Garden or any "covered" roof assembly is just asking for trouble.

I agree that the majority of problems with the EPDM is the seaming or details...tape....glue...back to tape... "elastoform" ... blah blah blah

I also agree that the EPDM sheet itself will last quite long- wouldn't go as far as saying a lifetime tho.

The key with EPDM is the lifecycle cost..... generally it is less expensive up front, but it is far from maintenance free and maintenance costs.
 

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We have come across epdm sheets that have failed 10-15 years into their life span. In all instances they were installed in inverted roofing systems.
It appeared as if the sheets were drying out and cracking.

On mechanically fastened systems I have found sheets that are 15-20 years are under much stress as a result of membrane shrinkage, any defects within the sheet itself, small nicks etc will often fail as a result of the stress.



In regard to the garden roofs is it possible the membrane will get less stress due to being covered?
 

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I fear that the same thing is going to happen to the Garden Roofs, with soil and vegetative growth to be a Green Roof will happen, just like the IRMA Roofs from around 30 years ago.

Ed
Garden roofs have been around for thousands of years Ed, true they wern't installed over single ply for thouse thousand years, but they've been tremendously popular in Europe for the last few decades. It's only a re-emerging new fad in this country.

Supposedly the garden is supposed to protect the roof and protect it from UV. I'm finding TPO to be widely popular for use beneath a garden which I find curious since of all the single ply membranes it has the least proven track record. When someone tells me they want to put a garden or deck on their roof my specification changes. I'm always going for the 20 year system with no fasteners in that case.
 
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