The Professional Roof / Repairs and Waterproofing Association (PRAWA) is spearheading a drive to implement minimum standards and a register of approved application products within the waterproofing and roof repairs industry. This will be done in collaboration with various manufacturers and suppliers in the industry with PRAWA facilitating the entire process. After much deliberation regarding the rapid rate of decline in the quality of workmanship and products used over the past few years, it was decided that this was the best course of action to follow. While the new works waterproofing sector has earned a solid reputation for the quality of workmanship, there has been an influx of unscrupulous roofing repair and maintenance contractors in the country. This is being compounded by the widespread use of substandard roofing and waterproofing materials.
One of the important factors that come into play with the implementation of minimum standards in the waterproofing and roof repairs industry is that for the first time in South African history an accredited training provider is offering a formal qualification in the field. The National Certificate in Waterproofing NQF2 is accredited by the Construction Education and Training Authority. This development was fantastic news for PRAWA as it now has a formal qualification upon which it is able to base its professional designations and ensure continual upskilling within the Waterproofing and Roof Repairs industry.
“If the industry, including contractors and participants in the value chain, do not act now there may be nothing left of it to pass onto the next generation of professionals. Due to the high frequency of substandard workmanship, property developers and homeowners, banking institutions and insurance companies have lost trust in and respect for our industry. This is despite there being many roofing maintenance and repair contractors that continue to strive for excellence and set the benchmark in industry. They are approved applicators of quality products and deploy them according to the manufacturers’ specifications, Leonie Adams, Training Manager of the Roofing Academy says.
The Roofing Academy is the preferred training provider for PRAWA as it is the only training provider which offers the qualification in waterproofing and roof repairs. Many new and existing contractors have obtained certification in the qualification through The Roofing Academy. Contractors and individual PRAWA members may also obtain certification through the Recognition of Prior Learning (RPL) process offered by the Roofing Academy by presenting evidence of their knowledge and experience in the industry. These initiatives are helping to professionalise an industry that was previously not recognised as a formal trade, despite the important role that roofing and waterproofing fulfil in the building industry.
This initiative is also receiving significant support from leading banks and insurance companies, which also want to see the introduction of minimum standards and a register of approved materials in the industry. They too are concerned about the decline in roofing maintenance and repair over the years, with contractors increasingly being called back by clients to repair substandard workmanship. By this time, property owners have incurred major water damage from leaking roofs. According to research undertaken by insurance companies, about 60% of all roof repairs are faulty and need to be redone. This declines by 5% when using the services of skilled and experienced contractors.
PRAWA has already consulted widely with industry participants. This includes at a briefing last month where leading industry bodies, including the Institute of Plumbing South Africa (IOPSA), Master Builders Association North and the Institute for Timber Construction, were invited to share initiatives that have helped them to significantly raise standards in the industries that they serve.
The Roofing Academy is mainly taking its cue from the plumbing industry. This is considering the immense role that both IOPSA and the Plumbing Industry Registration Board (PIRB) have played in professionalising the industry over the years. Through their Certificate of Competence (CoC) initiative, they are helping to safeguard homeowners and property developers against poor plumbing installations. In order to issue a CoC, a plumber must be registered with the PIRB. The PIRB’s inspectorate inspects the workmanship of these plumbers. If it does not comply with minimum industry standards, PIRB will request that the plumber correct it. In extenuating circumstances, a plumber can even be deregistered for delivering a poor service. Moreover, only companies that are qualified or that employ qualified plumbers may be members IOPSA. A qualified plumber has completed three years of formal training or undergone Artisan Recognition of Prior Learning.
Another important initiative in the plumbing industry that could be emulated in the roofing and waterproofing industry is the SA Watermark. This is a register of plumbing components that comply with the relevant South African National Standard. Among other benefits that it provides plumbers, architects and contractors, is a quick and convenient means by which to verify that products can be used legally. The SA Watermark applies a rigorous set of checks and balances to verify test reports and certification schemes to safeguard consumers against misrepresentation of plumbing components.
It is envisaged that similar initiatives could be introduced and coordinated by the Professional Roof Repair and Waterproofing Association (PRAWA) on behalf of the industry. Meanwhile, PRAWA will be establishing a contractors and suppliers committee where industry participants will be able to determine the next steps that need to be taken towards introducing minimum standards and a materials register in the industry.
“We are the only trade that must provide a 10-year guarantee for our workmanship, and this is understandable considering the immense damage that a poorly repaired or maintained roof can cause to property. However, despite these very high expectations, the industry does not even have minimum standards by which contractors are expected to abide when repairing and maintaining roofs. Through this initiative and with the support from all stakeholders, we know that we will be able to build an industry that is not only good, but great at what it does,” Adams concludes.