It's no secret that flat roofs can be problematic. If your flat roof is leaking or needs replacement, it's natural you'll want to fix it as soon as possible. In some cases it might be tempting to get someone you know to do it, or even somebody a friend knows. It's not un-common for a friends etc to recommend a 'builder' they know, who will often be glad to have a go. If this is the case it's essential you check their credentials thoroughly before letting anyone loose on your roof.
Do they specialize in flat roofing? How long have they installed flat roofs? Are they trained and approved installers of the materials that fit? What guarantees do they give, are they insurance backed? Are they fully insured with public and employers liability? Flat roofs are notoriously easy to get wrong – it's a fact that the majority of roofers (who do slating, tiling etc) do not get involved with flat roofs for this reason. The lack of drainage, together with the myriad of sub-standard materials available and the British weather, make for a potential minefield for an inexperienced installer.
The range of flat roofing materials on the market makes it easy to get your hands on them, but very difficult to know which are suitable, what they are designed for and how long their life expectancy is. The most common short cut / honest mistake is when an underlay felt is used rather than a cap sheet as a top layer, then covered with reflective silver paint to protect it from the sun's UV radiation, this is no substitute for a mineral cap sheet!
An experienced specialist flat roofing contractor will know from many years of experience, which are the best materials for any particular job. Somebody who specializes in their field will often be able to buy the best materials at negotiated prices which could mean they work out no more expensive than 'cheaper' materials. This is almost certainly the case when comparing a quality job to a 'cheap' job, which usually cost more in maintenance and repairs / replacement over the medium term. It's worth considering that replacement of any particluar flat roof is likely to cost almost double in 10 years time what it does today, due to the forces of inflation, raw materials costs etc. Quality materials, installed by manufacturer approved contactors, ensure a long lasting job.
Another important factor is the overall look of the finished job – like anything, you want it to look the best it can. Straight lines, neat corners and awkward details take years of practice to perfect. Proven methods are passed down the generations. Improvised methods are made up by the inexperienced. When times are slow, there's no shortage of good intentioned 'all-rounder's', eager to take on the next challenge. Many will dive in, only to find that the problem is worse than first thought – the bill can quickly increase. It takes much experience to accurately predict what's going on benefit a problem flat roof covering.
Of course even an expert can not always be certain, but they will know when to say so. A reputable expert will not make a diagnosis that they're not willing to stand by after further investigation – if experience tells them they can not be certain about something, then they will be upfront about it. The inexperienced contractor will often give diagnoses which prove inaccurate and result in unexpected additional cost. Leaking roofs can hurt business productivity and cause households a great deal of upset if not handled professionally. More than ever, it pays to do your homework before allowing any work to resignation.
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