The solid roof market has seen a rate of growth unlike any other product in our industry in recent years. It’s comparable to the growth seen in the composite door sector. But whilst the idea of a solid roof on an existing conservatory that keeps more heat in and cold out might seem a great idea to most homeowners, is the industry really doing enough to ensure that what is being fit is being fit to the right standard?
First of all, it is worth noting that there are companies out there, such as Ultraframe, Prefix etc that do have their own procedures in place to make sure that installers looking to install a solid roof onto an existing conservatory do so in the correct manner via the right regulatory outlets. But just because those procedures exist, may not stop an installer going ahead and fitting a solid roof anyway. There will always be rogue elements of the industry determined to bypass the paperwork and fit a few quick job and pocket the cash. Whilst the customers might think this is a remarkable and quick solution, they may not be aware of the risks.
I’ll give you an example. I went to see a guy a couple of weeks ago about a door. Once we had finished the door talk, he took me into his 20+ year old conservatory to ask me about solid roofs. The way he was talking made me believe that this sort of a job was a quick swap and job done. I quickly explained to him that before anything could start, we’d have to carry out tests on the foundations to ensure that there was one there and to make sure it was suitable for a solid roof. Then we’d have to check the frames to make sure they would support the new product. And so I went on. After I had finished he said that of all the others who he asked about solid roofs, I was the only one saying that we’d have to carry out checks and tests. That was a worrying comment.
And here is the problem. The legal framework that exists at the moment seems very weak to me. There’s nothing to put installers off from doing these jobs the incorrect way. They know that if they take their chances, they probably won’t get caught and won’t be accountable should something bad happen. There is very little regulation, and right now it doesn’t seem enforceable.
One disaster to ruin an industry
The industry has to start putting a controlled break on the growth of the sector before something terrible happens. Some will say I’m exaggerating, but it only takes one bad installation to go terribly wrong. The second someone gets hurt or worse because of a shoddy roof installation, the media will get hold of that and tear the sector a new one. You can imagine the headlines. An accident like that has the potential to ruin the sector incredibly quickly.
The problem with the product is that it is probably too easy to install. That might sound daft at first, but when you think about it, the rogue elements of our industry love a quick fix. A product they can shove up in no time, get paid and wash their hands of it. The fabricators of solid roofs have spent a lot of time and money making these new products easy to fit, only for cowboys to go and take advantage of that.
There isn’t a one trick solution to this sort of problem. But one area where I think the better companies in our industry could start is by heavily educating the homeowner about what is actually required when changing an old polycarbonate roof to a solid one. If we can take the battle there, educate right at the sharp end, then maybe we have a chance at turning things around.