Technical Editor Bruce Meechan reports on a member of the CompetentRoofer scheme winning work across the country and across the sector.
Mention Trading Standards and roofing work in the same sentence and most TV viewers would probably assume there was a new documentary series starting, yet a firm from the northwest that belongs to both the National Federation of Roofing Contractors, and the CompetentRoofer scheme has actually just scooped the Leader in Customer Service award from Wirral Trading Standards; covering not just construction firms but all service providers across the region.
It is an outstanding accolade for Wirral Roofcare, a company not only tackling some of the more challenging new build and refurbishment projects around the UK, but also striving to be environmentally and socially responsible.
The latter context is most clearly illustrated by the way in which Wirral Roofcare is expanding its training programme, taking on new premises in order to accommodate more youngsters, and doing so with the intention of placing a proportion of them with other companies.
Managing Director Scott Williams explains saying: “The Trader of the Year Award from Wirral Trading Standards recognises the way we have managed to maintain our customer service, and to support the local community while the company has been expanding. It also takes account of the way we are planning for the future and what we are doing with apprenticeships.”
While at present apprentices are taken on under the CITB scheme, doing their NVQs with Bolton College, Wirral Roofcare is planning to increase its intake to 10 or more a year, and to carry out far more of the training in house. Disciplines covered will include safe working at height, safe use of power tools and asbestos awareness.
Wirral Roofcare was actually set up in 1978 and expanded to provide national coverage more than a decade ago. Now with 20 teams on the road, the company is undertaking work up and down the UK, as well as working in all the sectors: including commercial, retail, schools, hospitals and even prison building; as well as private and social housing.
In relation to public sector work, Wirral Roofcare has a long term relationship with West Cheshire and Chester Council, covering both reactive and planned maintenance. Three vans are permanently allocated to the contract, with the operatives daily being tasked to carry out everything from patch repairs to replacing rotten fascia boards or gutter clearing.
Peter Jones, the council’s Repairs and Maintenance Manager, commented on the contractor’s involvement at Ellesmere Port, saying: “Wirral Roofcare undertake a raft of specialist roofing repairs, particularly relating to Responsive Repairs, emergencies and urgent requests. They have the resource flexibility to adapt to changes in demand and have been particularly supportive during unseasonal storms and related roofing problems.
“The Repairs and Maintenance Unit were audited by independent housing specialists HQN during October 2011. HQN made particular comment to the value for money in the provision of responsive repairs. Wirral Roofcare have played their part in helping us stretch the limited repairs budget and provide the tenants of Ellesmere Port with a top class repairs service within limited available funding.”
Elsewhere Wirral Roofcare has crews carrying out a diversity of work including two very different reroofing jobs for the Prison Service. While at HMP Sudbury the task is replacing steel roofing panels, in Lincoln an existing asphalt roof on a reinforced concrete deck is being overlaid with a Liquid Plastics system that will be backed by a 25 year guarantee.
Also amongst the half dozen contracts being completed every week by Wirral Roofcare’s tradesmen has been a series of pub refurbishments throughout the Uk, as well as the replacement of tiles or slates on numerous domestic properties, where belonging to CompetentRoofer pays dividends.
Scott Williams continues, saying: “CompetentRoofer has been very important for us, changing the way we operate and making us more competitive. Not only does it save us an average of £280 per property, there is also less paperwork and no delay waiting for an inspection to take place before the work can be completed. We have had to train our surveyors in the relevant disciplines – such as meeting Part L and ensuring the weight of the covering does not vary by more than 15 per cent – but now everything is done in house, except for the audit by CompetentRoofer. We are reducing the bill to the client and winning more work thanks to CompetentRoofer. Embracing the scheme has pushed us ahead of other contractors.”