There is no doubting the cash cow that is the solid roof market. It has been one of the most explosively successful new parts of our market in recent years. They put right many wrongs caused by the old polycarbonate roofs used on millions of conservatories around the country. Home owners love them for that reason. A solid roof can turn a cold old conservatory into a room that can be used all year round.

Naturally, installers got on the bandwagon early on and started to replace roofs in the bucket loads. But I always had a suspicion that some installers were diving headlong into replacements without carrying out thorough checks on the existing structure. I was given information today confirming so, and now I think it is time that the solid roof market needs to be regulated.

Worst case scenario possible

I was privy to information about one of our competitors in our area, bigger than us, who were doing regular solid roof business without carrying out any checks whatsoever on the structures that were being altered. This annoys me. Not because they’re doing more solid roofs, I wouldn’t want to do business in the way they are. What annoys me is the extreme risks being taken in the name of business.

There is a very obvious worst case scenario at stake here. An extremely heavy solid roof being installed onto a structure that was meant only for a polycarbonate roof is risky when you don’t check the quality or strength of the base, dwarf walls or frames. All it takes is one shoddy installation onto frames and a base not fit for anything other than polycarbonate for the whole thing to come falling down. Hopefully with no one in it at the time. However, we all know the sketchy, random quality of existing conservatories. Some are good, some are not. Some are simply not fit for a solid roof, yet there appears to be many installers happy to throw solid roofs on without regard for safety.

Will it take someone to be badly injured or worse before we sit up and take notice? Unfortunately, it might be so. There are many solid roofs being retro-fitted every week around the UK, the more we fit, the bigger the chance becomes of one going badly wrong. I hate to say it but I think it will happen.

It now has to be time to regulate this part of the industry. Not because of the product, but because of the way the product is being installed. By some.

DGB Brexit

Simple regulation

I’m not a massive fan of regulations as it goes. I believe we have too much in all walks of life in this country. But I do believe that some of it is vital in important places. And given the risks of a solid roof project going wrong, this would be regulation and legislation I would comfortably support. And it only needs to be a simple set of rules passed into law to make sure installers do the right things on every solid roof installation. These are some of the points I would like to see enacted:

  • installers must purchase their solid roofs from suppliers whose products meet building regulations
  • installers must carry out a series of checks on the base, dwarf wall, foundation and surrounding ground, and provide proof of checks – and then inform building control or work with an intermediary business to inform building control of the proposed works
  • installers must carry out extra works to reinforce the existing structure if required
  • installers should be certified to carry out solid roof installations and have random checks on installations to ensure the correct processes are being followed
  • any installers found to be flouting regulations be struck off from installing solid roofs for 12 months

I don’t think these are major bullet points. They’re simple to follow, and I’m sure the better installers are already carrying out checks on existing structures before any solid roof product is retro-fitted anyway. But unfortunately not all companies are, as was proved to me earlier on today. The aim of regulation would be to ensure the shoddy installers are either forced to abide by better rules or be forced out of the market altogether.

It may sound extreme, but when you consider what could go wrong, I believe it to be absolutely vital that we clean up what is still a very promising, prosperous part of our industry. Lets just hope it doesn’t take something tragic for us all to sit up and say to ourselves, “we should have done something about this”.

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