As a roofing contractor, you need to advise your clients of the signs of winter damage to their commercial property. If you have recently installed a roof for a commercial customer, the contract that you signed with your customer allows the client to make claims against your general liability insurance for a period of time. You want to make sure that winter damage, which should be claimed against building insurance, is not claimed as shoddy workmanship against your contractors’ insurance.
Ice Dams and Icicles
If when you installed a new roof, you insulated it well; you may have set up conditions for an ice dam. Well-insulated roofs tend to retain more snow and when that snow melts, it can freeze and dam up. The melting snow can also form into icicles. Those icicles falling from the roof can injure passer-byes, creating another form of liability that needs to be handled by the building-owners’ insurance not your roofing insurance.
Even though cities like Boston have been in the news regarding their record snowfall this year, Phoenix and parts of Arizona are experiencing high precipitation rates. Arizona buildings tend to have low-sloping roofs. When a roof is low-sloping; excess percipitation has trouble draining from it, and ponding can occur, which is a concentrated amount of percipitation. If ponding occurs on a roof that you’ve recently installed; you need to identify the culprit as winter damage, so it won’t be mislabeled as a poor drainage system, which your roofing insurance would be liable for.
Ceilings and walls can indicate the effects of winter damage from snow and ice on your roof. Ceiling tiles or boards that are sagging or falling out signal potential roofing problems. Along with that, contractors should note sprinkler systems that are downsliding and not as securely anchored to the ceiling as normally. Contractors should also alert commercial clients of the potential relationship of roofing damage to cracks in the masonry and the inability to get doors or windows opened.
Again all the damage that is caused to ceilings and walls by winter weather conditions can also be seen by your customer as a result of your faulty workmanship. As a roofing contractor, you need to assert your expertise and distinguish winter damage from your workmanship. It’s important for your reputation and your roofing insurance premium that winter damage is never misidentified as poor workmanship.
One item that is usually protected under general liability insurance is roofing systems. However, roofing systems take quite a beating during the winter. Winter weather causes a barrage of problems for roofing systems. These problems include roof collapses, severe roof leaks, sagging roof members like metal decking or plywood sheathing and bowing truss bottom chords or web members.
If the above problems can be classified as winter damage, it is because the problems resulted from the fact that the weight of snow or ice was in excess of what the roofing system was built to handle. Otherwise, these problems would have been caused by inferior workmanship and materials, which is your responsibility and the manufacturer of the products you used. Before you take on liability for damages, make sure those damages are result of your actions not Mother Nature’s.