It is something that continues to bug me.
The solid roof market has exploded into life over the last few years. In an industry that has been struggling, the replacement conservatory roof market has boomed. The likes of Guardian’s solid roof and others have created a profitable market that customers have really bought into. It has come about because it is a product that meets a real need. Conservatories have for decades, suffered from overheating, freezing cold temperatures in the winter, noise, glare and other well known issues. Solid roofs have come along and appeared to have solved these issues. But as we all know, it isn’t all that simple.
Despite attempts from the conservatory market to try and clear things up, there remains much confusion about whether or not conservatories upgraded to solid roofs requires building regulations, planning permission, both, or non at all. Ask one installer then another, you’ll probably get two different answers, probably both stemming from advice from their own councils. Despite this not being ideal, this isn’t the most pressing issue.
It’s something we all know. There are going to be cowboy companies out there fitting these solid roofs very shoddily. No structural checks, no reinforcing of the old frames, no involvement of building regs or planning etc. The worst case scenario is if there is an old conservatory, unreinforced, that is then retro-fitted with a heavier solid roof, it could quite easily collapse. The situation isn’t worth thinking about if someone happens to be the conservatory at the time of collapse. But, this is the stark risk that is posed if one of these roofs are incorrectly installed.
And this might sound dramatic, but if the time comes when tragedy strikes because of poor workmanship, that incident will very quickly ruin the entire solid roof market. I believe it is as serious as that. With the way the media is now, with things like Twitter, Facebook and Google+, it will not very long for a story like that to get out into the wider public knowledge. Once that happens, you can bet your last fiver that the solid roof market will disappear quicker than a dictator on the run.
There is a disaster waiting to happen here. But there doesn’t have to be. At the moment there are too many grey areas. Too many councils and too many companies giving conflicting information to the end user. Whilst there is confusion within the industry, poor practice will continue. What needs to happen is local Government needs to really get a grip on this area of our industry. It needs to understand it properly, then issue clear and straightforward guidelines, without loopholes and a load of “what ifs”. Do that, publish unified advice and guidance, then we all might then start to all be on the same page, helping us to install what is essentially a great idea of a product, safer and risk free.
At the end of the day, when we have the responsibility of fitting such a product, we also have the responsibility of installing it safely. Whilst it’s important we use this as an opportunity to grow our businesses, it could all easily be ruined if we start to risk the safety of the homeowner because some of us are blindly plonking these roofs on without doing the necessary checks.
What’s your opinion? Is there a disaster waiting to happen? How long might it be before an accident occurs because of a poorly fitted solid roof? All comments welcome in the section below.