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By Gary Thill, PSP/Deck 360 News Editor
As the industry heads into its busiest season — including work from likely seasonal storm damage — roofers are facing an “unprecedented” shortage of key materials needed to get work done from shingles to fasteners. In the midst of this disruption, roofers must communicate with clients and customers like never before and turn to some unlikely “allies” including building officials.
“Over my 40-year career, I have not seen a disruption like this,” said NRCA CEO Reid Ribble, during a special Live Action Alert that drew about 500 participants. “It’s not just the ability to get raw materials. It’s also getting a truck to deliver the materials,” he added, noting the trucking shortfall that’s exacerbating supply chain issues.
Ribble said the roofers face “disruptive problems” with asphalt shingles, light-weight metal, fasteners, reinforcement mats, polymers and insulation. The bottleneck is the result of a confluence of events that include the pandemic, fires in the PNW, numerous hurricanes, the Texas energy freeze, the blockage of the Suez Canal and ongoing trade war-related tariffs.
“The challenges are not going away anytime soon,” Ribble predicted, saying he expects them to continue into winter.
During the online event, Ribble recommended that roofers:
Along with frequent communication, Mark Graham, NRCA’s vice president of technical affairs, also urged roofers to share price and schedule risk with building owners. He said roofers should be especially cautious about any work with a specific completion date or liquidated damages clause such as school work. When it comes to such work, Graham suggested that roofers make clear the challenges they face and then try to come up with creative solutions, such as:
But he also urged roofers to get proactive in working with manufacturers and “UL or FM nerds” to find material substitutions necessary to keep work going.
"Get in touch with that nerd, because they will hold the key to what can be substituted,” he said, adding. “The key is any substitution needs to be well documented.” He also said roofers should work with building officials, who have the authority to approve materials that are tested within FM and UL requirements even if they're not tested by those agencies themselves. "That building official can actually be an ally,” he added.
Graham’s specific recommendations were:
“We’re all in this together, so let’s figure out a way to move forward,” Graham said.