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Rely on roof repairs

27 July 2011

Mike Fox

Chronic wastages in public expenditure can be prevented simply by injecting a little extra quality control where it matters the most - in property repairs, maintenance and improvements. And this quality control should be applied to the people actually doing the work, according to industry expert Mike Fox.

From the personal experience of being hired to trouble-shoot no less than 2000 schools, hospitals and housing problems during the last six years, Fox stated that supply chain management is still too often limited to the management and not to the people actually doing the work on site such as the roofers.

Fox claims that the most typically neglected area of RMI is the roof, which unfortunately can cause both the most problems and subsequent costs. This is because, unlike repairing most other sections of a building, much remedial work to a roof often requires the additional high expense of scaffold or mobile elevating platforms.

However, it is well known that most roofing problems arise in just a detail or two of the workmanship, instead of in the overall design or construction. The re-installation of a house roof, an option for less austere times, could incur a £20,000 cost that a properly managed £3,000 repair should actually solve.

“In the current economic climate, it therefore should be common sense to focus on correcting the details more efficiently with repair solutions costing a fraction of complete reconstruction,” said Mike Fox. “By focus, I mean applying the very best quality control instead of treating repairs as the poor relation.”

Modern non-invasive inspection technology such as infra-red thermography and deck scans, together with specialist safety-access systems enable the construction to be surveyed in intricate detail, so that the true sources of leaks can be identified. This can eliminate some of the typically chronic wastages in expenditure, such as where no less than five repeated re-feltings of a flat roof in as many years failed to solve a leak according to Mike Fox:

“To strip and re-install a roof can cost up to 10 times that of a repair solution and takes at least twice the amount of time - which for schools is always especially precious. A survey should accurately provide all the evidence of symptoms to determine the true cause and vitally, to prescribe the most effective long-term treatment that should be eligible for an insurance-backed warranty of the workmanship. This solution should allow none of the compromises typical in construction and historically in repairs, through lack of quality control upon whoever is actually doing the work on the roof.”

Fox added: “In such austere times, as £6.25bn is expected to be cut from public expenditure, a fresh approach is required to all property maintenance that encourages an unprecedented attention to quality in the workmanship of repairs - for the very survival of some essential public resources and services. Get the RMI wrong in housing and risk the absence of stars from the Audit Commission to secure the vital next wave of funding.”

Mike Fox is founder of the AWM cladding & roofing consultancy

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