Friday, September 30, 2016

Roofing companies contribute to economy through spike in business

Back in early May, softball size hail pounded parts of south Lincoln, leaving many homeowners with lots of cleanup. But more so, many Lincolnites were turning to their insurance companies for a new roof.

White Castle Roofing, a locally owned and operated company, says they've seen a major spike in business from the storm.

"Our phones have been ringing off the hook we've got about 8 thousand phone calls since the storm and with only 11 sales guys we've been doing our best to get  to everybody and we're just working through it,” Dane Hansen, Owner, White Castle Roofing, said.

White Castle has crews working all across the city to keep up with demand.

"This year has different, its defiantly way busier, we've received so many phone calls we've been trying to get through as many of them as possible, we're way backed up but in the scheme of things it's a normal year just really busy and we're getting through it,” Hansen said.
White Castle buys their materials from a local supplier, and since the business is local, all the money they're making goes back into the community.

"Well most of our guys work for us, and they all pay their taxes, because they're all legal so all the money gets reinvested into the community because it actually goes to pay taxes, not around it and we invest a lot of it into charities as well,” Hansen said.

While they say their hands have been full with all the extra work, they're glad Lincoln is choosing to go local.

From ABC 8 

Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A. 
407 N. Howard Avenue
Suite 100
Tampa, FL 33606


Thursday, September 29, 2016

Rogers Roofing: Taking pride in a personal approach

A family business, Rogers Roofing began serving homeowners’ needs in 1968.
“My father, John S. Rogers, was a Chicago fireman. He started the business with three men and a truck and ran the business from our home,” says John M. Rogers, who worked alongside his dad learning the roofing trade first-hand.
When he graduated from Illinois State University with a degree in economics, Rogers says he didn’t plan to be in the roofing business.
“But I have a great career, working with wonderful people,” he says.
Growing the business included locating to 4540 Wabash Avenue in 1991. Today Rogers Roofing employs a staff of 48 who handle sales and field work.
“We specialize in roofing, siding, windows and gutters—everything on the outside of the house,” says Rogers. “We take a personal approach and understand the customers’ problems, then diagnose an acceptable solution. We take pride in that.”
Rogers Roofing employees “become part of our family through financial growth, job security and pride in workmanship,” he says.
Customers call Rogers Roofing when they notice “red flags” such as roof shingles missing after a storm, a stain on a ceiling, siding coming off or a gutter detaching, he says. Those initial issues can signal minor or major problems.
Rogers Roofing maintains a warehouse where some of the materials needed for specific projects are delivered. Suppliers also deliver directly to the job site, he says. “We service the Chicagoland area, Northwest Indiana and Southwest Michigan.”
A third generation of the family recently joined the company’s ranks. “My oldest son, Michael, is learning the business and how to service the customers,” he says.
Learning from others drives him and his business, according to John Rogers. Recently he attended a conference in Detroit where major contractors from all over the nation gathered.
“I wanted to learn from them how they expand their businesses,” he says. “Never be satisfied. That’s my personal motto and our business motto.”
From NWI 

Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A. 
407 N. Howard Avenue
Suite 100
Tampa, FL 33606

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

EXCHANGE: Insurance companies force roof replacements

When Dennis Roberts' car insurance started getting a bit too expensive, he did what a lot of consumers do and shopped around.
Then he picked a new company and switched both his home and auto coverage, never expecting what it was going to cost him.
A few weeks after he switched, his new insurer sent an inspector over to his home in Urbana to look at the roof, then notified him he needed a roof replacement, Roberts said. Refusing would mean cancellation of his new policy.
But the roof on his home wasn't failing, he argued. While it's 18 years old, it was expected to last 25 years, and most of it is in good shape.
"To me, it looked fine," Roberts said.
A city alderman, Roberts started asking around to see if anything like this was happening to other people.
He's heard from dozens of homeowners in Urbana who have had similar experiences with insurance companies demanding they replace their roofs, along with roofers who have been seeing this trend on the rise.
And he's concerned because roofs aren't cheap and many people can't afford that kind of unexpected expense.
Roofs can run $7,000 and more, and people he has heard from have been given just 30 to 90 days by their insurers to get the roofing jobs done, according to Roberts.
"If you own your own home and have a fixed income, where are you going to get the money in 30 days?" he asked.
Making an insurance switch to save money on rates? Becoming a new home insurance client is what triggered insurers to send inspectors to look at their roofs, several local homeowners said.
Roberts has been keeping a list of local homeowners who have contacted him about being threatened with denial of coverage unless they replace their roofs, and the companies they've dealt with include American Family, Liberty Mutual, Allstate, Ohio Casualty, State Farm, Farmers, Standard Mutual, Country Financial, Cincinnati Insurance, Travelers, AAA, Auto-Owners and Geico.
Local Realtor Jonah Weisskopf said he was running into roof demands from insurers through buying investment properties until he finally purchased a commercial policy with an exemption for roofs.
New roofs on two houses he bought in 2013 cost him $20,000, he said, and "neither of the roofs leaked or anything."
Last fall, Jeff Machota of Urbana said he switched home and auto coverage looking for better car insurance rates and he, too, was hit with an unexpected roof inspection and demand to replace it in 90 days.
A new roof was on his someday list of improvements for this house, Machota said, but it was a few years down the road since the roof wasn't yet failing. It was late fall and he argued with the insurer that it wasn't the season to reroof a home, he said, but was told any company he switched to would require replacing the roof.
Dennis Roberts' own story took even more twists as he turned back to his old insurer after the new roof demand. Since he'd been gone from his old company more than 30 days, he was considered a new client.
"They said as a new client, they would be required to inspect my roof," he said.
Roberts said he had four roofing companies inspect his roof and three told him it looked OK, though a close appraisal showed moderate wear on certain sections of one side of one gable.
Eventually, he secured a 90-day extension, but he had to show his new insurer a signed contract with a roofer. Then, Roberts said, he switched insurers yet again, and worked out a deal in which his roof is insured separately for its replacement value only.
Randy Roberts, the operator of Roof Doctors (and no relation to the alderman), has found insurers requiring roof replacements becoming more of an industry-wide practice.
"Each year, this has become more widespread, more common, more insurance companies," he said.
Sometimes, the roofs really are in bad enough shape to need replacement, he said, "but many are nowhere near ready to be replaced."
Fellow roofing contractor Cord Schroeder of Bash-Pepper Roofing said he began seeing more of this trend four to eight years ago.
"We get about 10 calls a week for people saying their insurance companies are telling them they need a roof," he said.
What irks both roofers is insurers often won't take their word for it when they inspect roofs for the homeowners and tell insurance companies roof replacements aren't needed yet, they said.
Both said a professional evaluation requires an inspection at the roof level, "but they don't even go on the roof," Randy Roberts said of insurance inspectors.
"I've written probably 50 letters to insurance companies telling them the roof is OK, and they just don't care," Schroeder said.
He's been successful getting insurers to back off a roof demand for a homeowner about 10 to 15 times, Schroeder said, but "half the time these days, I don't waste my time writing a letter."
Of the insurance cases he's been asked to evaluate for homeowners, Schroeder said he'd say 25 percent of the time, the roofs have needed replacement and 25 percent of the time they've been fine. The other half of the roofs fall somewhere in the middle.
"A solid 25 percent have five years or more left, and those people should not get roofs," he said.
Nick Adams, co-owner of the Allstate Insurance agency at 604 S. Neil St., C, said a roof inspection is customary for new clients.
"That's something we do, yes," he said.
He understands having to replace a roof is frustrating for a customer, he said, but from the insurer's side, roofs are the most common source of homeowner claims filed in Illinois. And on the flip side, anyone who does get a new roof should notify their agent, because that can save them money on rates.
"If you have a new roof, that's the best time to shop for home insurance. That's the biggest discount we offer," he said.
Loretta Worters, spokeswoman for the New York-based Insurance Information Institute, said if an insurance company tells you to replace your roof, you're likely going to have replace it anyway.
"There may be difference of opinion as to when," she said.
Insurance companies are, by nature, risk-adverse, she said, but this practice isn't only to protect insurance companies, Worters said. Roofs are the first line of defense for homes in wind storms, hail, tornadoes and other weather events.
"It's really for the benefit of the person," she said. "I'm sure they don't feel that way, because they have to pay for it."
Since he signed a contract to replace his roof, Dennis Roberts said he plans to honor that and get the job done this fall. But he believes the insurance industry is treating homeowners unjustly, and he's not giving up on behalf of fellow consumers.
He's filed a complaint with the state Attorney General's office, talked to state Rep. Carol Ammons, D-Urbana, about his concerns and met with staff from the state Department of Insurance.
He also wants to continue to hear from other homeowners who are getting roof demands from their insurers, and hopes to get state lawmakers interested in taking another look at homeowner insurance practices.
"I just feel like something has to happen," Roberts said.
Meanwhile, homeowners facing roof replacement demands have options, according to Roberts. For example, they can ask insurers for a printed copy of any home inspection affecting their properties, they should never accept an offer from an insurance agent to send someone to fix the roof, and they should always ask for an extension during the winter and file a complaint with the Department of Insurance if an extension is denied until the roof can be done in more reasonable weather.
Schroeder further advises making sure you get a reputable roofer to look at your roof.
There are plenty of insurers who want your business, he said. If your roof is in OK shape, and you can't work out equitable terms with one insurer, shop around for another, he advised.
"If one of them doesn't want your business because they don't like your roof, I'm sure there's one that does," he said.

From News Observer

Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A. 
407 N. Howard Avenue
Suite 100
Tampa, FL 33606

Read more here:

Read more here:

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

The metal roof of this woodland house in the US state of Arkansas is pinched in the middle so its shape resembles a bowtie (+ slideshow).
Aptly named Bowtie House, the home was designed by local firm deMx Architecture for an elderly couple who receive regular visits from their children and grandchildren.
It is located in the Ozark Mountains, near the eastern edge of Fayetteville, on a heavily wooded 9.75-acre (3.95-hectare) site.
The long, thin structure straddles the sloping terrain and is split over three levels. Its roof is lowest in the middle, then angles upward and outwards at both ends to create higher ceilings and larger windows.

Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A. 
407 N. Howard Avenue
Suite 100
Tampa, FL 33606

Monday, September 26, 2016

Mixing traditions: Nunavut fur designer installs sod roof in Iqaluit

A well-known Nunavut fur designer is bringing a little bit of her North Atlantic homeland to her new store in Iqaluit.  
"In celebration of 1000 years of trade between Vikings and Inuit here on South Baffin, I have put sod on my roof," said Rannva Erlingsdottir Simonsen.

A cherished piece of history

Erlingsdottir Simonsen is originally from the Faroe Islands, a remote archipelago situated in the heart of the North Atlantic's Gulf Stream, about halfway between Norway and Iceland — a self governing region of the Kingdom of Denmark. 
The islands are well-known for their arresting landscape — steep sheer cliffs, high mountains, and sunken valleys make for unforgettable vistas. 
But the islands are equally well-known for their unique architectural heritage, in particular, the cherished grass roofs that top both old and new buildings in every direction.  
While green roofs have grown into a symbol for the region, they started out as an efficient and practical solution to protect against rain and provide thermal insulation.
In the summer, green roofs protect buildings from direct solar heat, and in the winter they minimize heat loss through added insulation.
Though the roof itself does retain some rainwater, returning a portion to the atmosphere through evaporation and transpiration, it is typically installed on top of a waterproof membrane that is also rot and root resistant.
It typically requires some extra upkeep as a result — particularly to guard against leaks.

A green roof, tundra style

Simonsen says the decision to top her own downtown business with sod goes beyond the functional benefits.
"I think nature is really important, and green in the city, I think, is hugely important."
But don't expect her new roof to look exactly like the green, grassy turf that tops the buildings of her homeland.
"I believe in using local resources... and local tradition and local craftsmanship," she said. "That is reflected in this sod roof which is tundra, and it's probably going to thrive well."
sod roof faroe islands
From CBC

Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A. 
407 N. Howard Avenue
Suite 100
Tampa, FL 33606

Monday, September 19, 2016

Construction Employment Falters in August

WASHINGTON, D.C., Sept. 2—The U.S. construction industry lost 6,000 net jobs in August according to an analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data released today by Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC). BLS also downwardly revised July’s estimate from 14,000 net new jobs to 11,000 net new jobs meaning that the construction industry has lost 25,000 net jobs since April after adding 68,000 through the first three months of 2016.

The nonresidential sector lost 10,700 net jobs in August after adding 9,600 jobs in July (revised down from 11,500). Employment in the heavy and civil engineering sector fell for the fourth time in five months, declining by 6,500 jobs on net, an indication of still weak infrastructure investment. The construction industry’s unemployment rate rose to 5.1 percent in August, but is still 3.4 percentage points lower than it was at the beginning of 2016.

“Today’s downbeat employment data came less than twenty-four hours after yesterday’s relatively upbeat nonresidential construction spending report,” said ABC Chief Economist Anirban Basu. “This pattern of good news followed by bad news is nothing new and continues to paint a confusing picture for nonresidential construction activity in the U.S.

“Most contractors continue to report decent backlog and although profitability remains a challenge, margins are thicker than they were several years ago,” said Basu. “Construction firms continue to complain about a lack of appropriately trained workers and construction wage costs are rising. These are all signs of an industry that remains busy.

“However, the data are also consistent with the notion that the pace of expansion in nonresidential construction activity has slowed,” warned Basu. “Nonresidential construction spending has expanded by less than 2 percent over the past year. The biggest culprit continues to be a lack of public sector capital spending on infrastructure, whether in the form of roads or water systems. Survey data regarding commercial real estate lending standards indicate that lending standards are beginning to tighten. While spending in office, lodging, and commercial categories has expanded significantly over the past year, the pace of growth is beginning to be constrained by a combination of regulatory pressures and growing concerns regarding overbuilding in certain key communities and product segments.

“The other consideration is that job growth remains rapid in a number of other key economic segments, including in e-commerce/distribution, retail, and a host of services,” said Basu. “This may be tempting some construction workers away from the industry, helping to explain continued low industry unemployment despite the job losses experienced in recent months.”

The national unemployment rate remained unchanged for a third consecutive month and stands at 4.9 percent. The labor force expanded by 176,000 persons in August and has grown by roughly one million persons over the past three months. Labor force participation stands at 62.8 percent.

From ABC

Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A. 
407 N. Howard Avenue
Suite 100
Tampa, FL 33606

Friday, September 16, 2016

Bill would encourage rooftop gardens on new SF buildings

From the sidewalk, the Whole Foods building on upper Market Street looks like any other sleek new development. But there’s a difference on the roof, where a lush garden provides an oasis.
Now imagine gardens like that one, part of the 38 Dolores complex, on rooftops across the city, a collection of green spaces reaching into the air. San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener will introduce legislation Tuesday that aims to do just that.
It builds on a law the Board of Supervisors passed in April that requires new residential and commercial buildings 10 stories or shorter to install electricity-generating solar panels or a solar heating system that covers 15 percent of the roof. Wiener, who introduced the law, said it was the first of its kind in the country.
His new legislation would allow green roofs, also known as living roofs, to fulfill the solar requirement. Essentially, for every square foot intended for solar energy, there would have to be 2 square feet of green space — the idea being that at that calculation the two options would cost roughly the same.
Developers could also combine solar and green roof space to meet their obligations. The Federal Office Building at 50 United Nations Plaza in the Civic Center has such a mix.
“The solar requirement and the green roof requirement have always been two peas in a pod,” Wiener said. “They make roofs more environmentally sustainable, cities more environmentally sustainable, and take a very underutilized space to either create clean energy or help us with energy efficiency.”
Green roofs can vary depending on their depth and type of potting soil. Broadly speaking, they include water retention and drainage systems, a waterproofing membrane and plants.
An October 2013 study by the urban think tank SPUR on the benefits of green roofs identifies their benefits: reduced storm water runoff, food production through community gardens, improved air quality, better views and an increase in habitat that improves biodiversity.
To date, roughly 45 large-scale developments have green roofs, according to the San Francisco Planning Department, and at least 10 more projects are in the works.
They’re not inexpensive. Jeff Joslin of the Planning Department said they tend to cost $10 to $30 per square foot.
A June 2016 study by the consulting firm ARUP Group that looked at the costs and benefits of green roofs in San Francisco concluded that “owners tend to bear all costs for living roofs, even though the community receives many of the benefits.”
Without the use of incentives and other policy investments, the report said, “San Francisco is unlikely to see as rapid an increase in living roof areas as would be preferred for community benefits.” Wiener’s law includes no incentives.
Several European countries and cities in the United States have embraced the use of incentives.
Germany has had a green roof industry for 40 years, according to the SPUR report, with 70 cities there offering “direct financial incentives” and 150 cities requiring green roofs on new construction. Switzerland offers subsidies for green roof installation. Chicago had a three-year grant program that offered a subsidy of $5,000 per project, in an effort to cool the city during the summer.
Wiener’s legislation appears to be the closest a major city in the United States has come to requiring green roofs.
Supporters of the proposal hope that it will make a dent in the city’s problematic storm drain system, which feeds into the city’s sewers. When it rains heavily, the storm drains overwhelm the sewage system, causing waste to be released into the ocean and bay. The idea is that green roofs will absorb some of the rainwater and slow the passage of water into the drain system, helping prevent runoff.
Even if it should pass, it will be a long time before San Francisco’s roofs will offer a landscape of greenery.
The ARUP study concluded that if 25 percent of new developments install living roofs, that after five years between 1 percent and 7 percent of city roofs in the city would be green.
That doesn’t deter city officials. Bottom line, said Barry Hooper, a green building specialist with the city’s Department of the Environment: “One thing that doesn’t make sense anymore is just wasting that space.”
From SF Gate 
Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A. 
407 N. Howard Avenue
Suite 100
Tampa, FL 33606

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Laborers give new meaning to 'hard work'

SELMA — How tough is your job?

Could it possibly involve staying balanced on a tin roof high above a pavement in mid-August with the heat index slowly climbing into the triple digits?

Or, how about walking across a high school roof that’s covered with wet tar slowly seeping into your work boots?

James Carter and Donald Witcher are in their 60s and they’ve had experience with such things, so they are enjoying this holiday off from replacing roof shingles.

They’ve proved time and again that they can hold their own with younger roofers who try to keep up with them, but often head for shade when the sun’s at its highest.

Together, they have 45 years of experience on rooftops across Selma and surrounding communities.

The two men work for Fancher Fabrication Inc. in Selma and spend their days replacing shingles, vents and other damaged sections of roofs.

Many men that age might be looking forward to retirement, but not these two reliable roofers.

“You got to get started as early as you can in the summer because the heat can flat wear you out if you’re not ready,” Witcher said. “I know, I’ve been doing this for 36 years.”

He once was employed at a steel fabrication business that worked with metal, not wood or brick, and it made standard roof work look easy.

“I can remember the times temperatures would get up to 120 degrees on metal roofs,” he said. “When that happens, you work a bit and then come down to rest.”

Preparation is important for roofing work during the summer. That means light, white clothes, gloves, knee pads, towels and whatever else that can help meet the challenge.

“The glare off of metal roofs can really blister you if you’re not ready for it,” Witcher said.

Hydration, of course, is the most important preparation for summer roof work because body temperatures can become dangerously high during hot, humid days aloft.

“When it’s really hot, we take a cooler filled with ice so we can drink up on the roof instead of coming down,” Carter said. “We drink as much water as we can, but I also like tomato juice because it’s got vitamins and salt in it.”

A sure danger sign for roofers is lack of perspiration. When they stop sweating, it could be stroke time, reason enough to seek some shade, drink plenty of liquids and look for a shady spot to rest awhile.

Roofers are a special breed and not everybody can take it or make it. The best way to beat the heat is to start early, usually just as the sun starts its upward climb each morning.

“When I was younger I went down to Louisiana to work off the coast on one of those oil rigs,” Carter said. “That was hard work, but I don’t think it could match roof repairs in the summer.”

Asked how he’d feel working in an air-conditioned building instead of laboring atop a roof, Carter started to laugh.

“Wouldn’t it be sweet?” he said. “If I had gone longer to school, I might have a job like that, but I don’t mind.”

In a way, his job does include air conditioning, but it’s the wilting kind that can test the resolve of the fittest of men up on those roofs.

Carter and Witcher fit that description and, and on this Labor Day, they deserve all the praise possible for what they do.

The two men work for the Fancher family, a tight-knit group of men and women who epitomize the meaning of hard work and responsibility.

What worries Bobby Fancher, who runs the operation, is the negative view of roofing by those who turn thumbs down when asked if they’d like to climb up on a roof to repair shingles.

“They don’t want to be here in hot weather,” said Bobby, a former diesel mechanic who supervises 10 employees. “That’s what worries me about the future of our business.”

He said roofers can easily make $15 or more an hour “and there’s plenty of work to stay busy.”

Melinda Fancher, Bobby’s wife, and Ashley Fancher, his daughter-in-law, provide the administrative backbone for the family business.

Robert Fancher, one of Bobby’s sons, won’t soon forget the day he and others walked across a roof at Prattville High School several years ago.

He said their job was to “mop down” icky tar trying to stick to their work boots when temperatures soared, and they wondered what in the world they were doing up there.

Bobby’s son has a solid sense of humor in his line of work and when asked about that roofing experience, said: “We were a bit taller every time we walked across the tar that kept popping above the surface.”

From The Montgomery Adviser

Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A. 
407 N. Howard Avenue
Suite 100
Tampa, FL 33606

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

KPost Company 2016 scholarship program

KPost Charities giving back to the industry

KPost Company announced their 2016 scholarship program which is part of KPost Charities. An industry-leading commercial roofing and waterproofing contractor and one of the founding members of NRP, KPost provides award winning roofing throughout the Dallas Texas greater metropolitan.
In the past 10 years, KPost has completed high roofing and waterproofing projects including the AT&T Stadium, the Perot Museum of Science and Nature, the Omni Dallas Convention Center Hotel and the Container Store Headquarters and Distribution Center.
KPost Charities was established as a non-profit organization in 2014.   KPost Company has always believed that they should “pay it forward”.  They have raised monies for Susan B. Komen, Operation Kindness, Easter Seals, TX, collected stuffed animals for children in local area hospitals and awarded over $10,000 in scholarships.
They are thrilled to announce that KPost Charities will again be awarding scholarships of $1,000 each to eligible employees, spouses, children, and grandchildren of roofing contractors.
Applicants must be a high school senior or currently attending a university or trade school. Scholarship money can only be used for post-secondary or trade school certification.  Scholarship recipients will be notified, by email, the week of August 15th, 2016.
To apply, candidates must submit a completed application, along with a personal letter of reference, no later than August 8th, 2016 to:
KPost Charities
PO BOX 540667
Dallas, Texas 75354-0667.
We look forward to your entries and wish everyone continued success in their desire to pursue higher education!

From The Roofer's Corner
Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A. 
407 N. Howard Avenue
Suite 100
Tampa, FL 33606

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

eReport: What All Solar Industry Professionals Should Know

What do Roofing Contractors Need to Know about Solar?

Solar power is the most sought-after clean energy on the market, but its popularity means more competition among contractors. Is your business doing enough to reduce costs, save time, and complete more projects?
With the solar industry projected to grow by $40 billion in the next four years, panel installation companies are about to experience a boom in business. Approximately one million homes in the United States alone rely on solar power, and as the cost of solar photovoltaic systems goes down, that number can only increase.
But not all solar professionals are equal in this burgeoning industry. Roughly three-quarters of the residential and commercial contractors EagleView surveyed want to invest in new technology this year. What that figure doesn’t tell you, though, is that some contractors have distinct advantages over others that let them see more customers and, ultimately, win more bids.
What do solar contractors need to know?
EagleView’s Solar Contractors’ Industry Trends & Outlook 2016 report combines our previous reports on the industry and takes a comprehensive look at the geographic trends and business practices for solar installation companies. To name just a few of the topics we cover, our eReport will answer the following questions:
Where are the most solar installations taking place?
  • How much time do site surveys take?
  • What is the average cost of a site survey?
  • How many redesigns will most contractors complete before installing a solar PV system?
  • Which technology investments are residential and commercial companies making?
  • What percentage of companies have lost business due to redesigns?
  • What risks are residential and commercial solar contractors facing?
Most of the companies we surveyed are small businesses with limited time and money. Only 13% of residential companies and 16% of commercial companies we surveyed perform 50 or more installations per month. The majority – 63% residential and 71% commercial – complete just 10 or fewer installations each month.
Yet site surveys, in particular, require a significant amount of resources for a solar business. They can cost anywhere from $50 to more than $500 each, and for many businesses, a single site survey can take more than two hours to complete.
Solar PV system redesigns also present obstacles for many installation businesses. Redesigns can cost anywhere from $100 to $500 or more for a single project, and they can cause delays of up to four weeks or more.
The additional costs and time lead to one serious consequence: lost sales. Nearly seven out of 10 companies will redesign a system once or twice before installation, so the risks are high for smaller business in particular.
A new solar energy project is installed every two minutes, and in order to meet that demand, more companies are popping up in this industry. Businesses of any size that want to stay ahead should be aware of the challenges others in the solar market face.
From The Roofer's Coffee Shop
Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A. 
407 N. Howard Avenue
Suite 100
Tampa, FL 33606

Monday, September 12, 2016

Defending OSHA Willful Citations

OSHA willful violations are categorized as “other than serious,” “serious,” “repeat,” and “willful.” A willful violation is the most serious of all workplace violations. A willful violation may be issued regardless of whether the workplace is otherwise safe, and a willful violation may be issued with or without a workplace accident. Valdak Corp. v. Occupational Safety and Health Review Com’n, 73 F.3d 1466 (8th Cir. 1996).   The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (the “Act”) does not specifically define a “willful” violation, but willful violations are found when an employer acts knowingly or voluntarily in disregard of the Act. Dayton Tire v. Secretary of Labor, 671 F.3d 1249 (D.C. Cir. 2012). Furthermore, willful means that the employer consciously, intentionally, deliberately or voluntarily acted with plain indifference to employee safety or to the requirements of the Act. Chao v. Greenleaf Motor Exp., Inc., 262 Fed. Appx. 716 (6th Cir. 2008).
While a willful act requires more than employer negligence, it does not require a showing of bad faith or evil purpose by the employer.U.S. v. Ladish Malting Co., 135 F.3d 484 (7th Cir. 1998). An employer knowing its employees are violating or are likely to violate a provision of the Act may be enough for a willful citation. Additionally, ignorance of the Act is not a defense to a violation; meaning, if an employer knows or allows its employees to work in conditions that happen to be in violation of the Act, a willful citation may be issued regardless of whether or not the employer knew that a violation was occurring. However, OSHA must prove more than an employer’s mere lack of diligence for a willful citation.
Also, employers who wish to substitute or use their own judgment of what is and is not safe practices in lieu of the Act must be wary. OSHA may issue a willful citation if a violation occurs despite an employer having an accident-free workplace if the employer substitutes or uses its own methods and judgment contrary to the Act.   IBP, Inc. v. Iowa Employment Appeal Bd., 604 N.W.2d 307 (Iowa 1999). Substitution of safety practices and policies in place of OSHA practices and policies may be seen as satisfaction of the knowing and voluntary requirements necessary for a willful citation. Lastly, employers should be aware that previous warnings or citations from OSHA may be a condition for the issuance of a willful citation, but a prior warning or citation is not necessary for a willful violation to be issued.
An employer who is alleged to have willfully violated an OSHA standard may be assessed a civil penalty up to $70,000 for each violation alleged (soon to be considerably more given OSHA’s adjustment for inflation). If multiple OSHA willful violations are found, they may place the employer on the Severe Violator Enforcement Program (“SVEP”). Also, with larger fines and punishment, OSHA often issues a press release publically condemning the employer. Although the employer’s right to contest is mentioned in the press release, the damage to the employer’s business reputation occurs before it has had the opportunity to defend the claim.
With the potential for such harsh and crippling punishment, it is wise for employers to take steps to lessen the chances of a violation being characterized as willful, and perhaps more importantly, employers should take proactive steps to avoid the possibility of the issuance of any willful citation. Therefore, implementation of a well-rounded safety program designed to educate employees and prevent work-place accidents should be instituted as both a first and last line of employer defense.
Policies that employers should implement include: the creation of a safety committee; well-established safety rules; the adoption of an updated and written safety program; proper communication of safety rules and programs to employees; proper hands-on employee training with annual and refresher training; the creation of a formal testing program to verify employee comprehension of safety rules; the employment of a professional safety director; the use of third party safety consultants to train and monitor employees; routine inspections of jobsites by supervisory employees; regular tool box talks with employees focused on workplace safety; regular job site safety meetings; regular equipment checks; institution of a company-wide safety incentive program; discipline of employees who violate employer and/or OSHA standards pursuant to the written disciplinary program; consistency of the enforcement of discipline; and proper documentation to account for the safety measures taken by the employer.
The establishment of a well-rounded program serves not only to prevent violations of the Act and, thereby, the issuance of citations, but also serves as an example of good faith attempted compliance with the Act. While there may be some inconsistency in OSHA case law, if an employer is making good faith efforts to comply with the requirements of the Act, then a finding of willfulness is generally not justified. Additionally, a showing of good faith is grounds for reductions in fines assessed against employers.
OSHA assess good faith attempts through inquiry into the employers attempt to comply with the Act above and beyond the minimum requirements to actually or technically be in compliance with the Act. OSHA must consider the totality of the circumstances when evaluating the employer’s overall company-wide dedication toward safety. The underlying idea is that employers who have established, maintained and periodically updated a well-rounded program have created safe working environments minimizing the chances of employee injury and should have their efforts recognized. Therefore, the employers that have established good faith efforts have created an environment wherein citations are less likely and created a potential defense against willful citations and entitlement to fine reduction in the event that they are forthcoming exists.
Under the current administration, OSHA has been issuing more willful citations and has been less willing to negotiate or reclassify willful citations into a lesser category such as repeat or serious. Once cited with a willful citation, the employer is also guaranteed to be re-inspected routinely to see if improvements were made since the previous inspection. After receiving a citation, an employer must be able to demonstrate that it has made positive steps to rectify any safety violations. This can be shown through additional safety training, revisions to existing safety manuals and disciplinary guidelines, and enforcement of safety on job sites. As with any case involving construction, the party with the best paper wins the day; therefore, it is critical that the employer maintain proper documentation to show all safety measures have been met. This includes maintaining documentation evidencing employee specific safety training in the event that that employee is cited for failure to wear fall protection or some other OSHA willful violations.
The example policies listed above are not exhaustive nor are they mandatory. Each employer’s good faith effort is specific to that employer. What works for one trade or industry may differ for another. Employer size and financial limitations also may affect an employer’s ability to implement a top tier safety program. The key point is that employers that take proactive steps with regard to employee safety are viewed more favorably than those that sit idly by until OSHA an inspection occurs.
Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A. 
407 N. Howard Avenue
Suite 100
Tampa, FL 33606

Friday, September 9, 2016

Asheville company moving to Tampa, taking 100 jobs

North American Roofing has based its corporate headquarters in Asheville since 1973, but company officials announced Thursday they're moving the headquarters to Tampa.

As a result, Asheville will lose the approximately 100 administrative jobs the company created at its facility near Brevard Road.

North American Roofing employs people all over the country to install commercial roofs for large clients such as Home Depot, GE, Lowe's, Public Storage, and Bed, Bath & Beyond. It's the fourth highest grossing roofing company in the country, according to Roofing Contractor trade publication, reporting $132 million in annual revenue.

North American Roofing expects to create 180 jobs in Florida and invest $800,000 in its new office space, according to a press release from Enterprise Florida, an economic development group.

Depending on the actual number of jobs it creates, North American Roofing could receive $900,000 from a Florida tax refund program — $720,000 from the state and $180,000 from local governments, according to the Tampa Bay Business Journal.

North American Roofing's Kelly Wade, chief operating officer, did not return repeated requests for comment that spanned several months.

Apparently, Tampa was not the company's first choice for a new location. In May, the Sarasota County Board of Commissioners, based in Sarastoa, Florida, reviewed an economic development package for North American Roofing.

"They don’t feel good about their ability to grow their corporate headquarters staff (in Asheville), but when they look at the amenities and the quality of life that we have here, they think it’s a great place for executives to be," said Mark Huey, president and CEO of the Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota County, at the May 24 meeting, which was video taped and posted to the board's website.

About two dozen Sarasota residents and business people spoke at the meeting, and many of them raised concerns about employee poaching and competition. Their concerns swayed the board to vote against the incentives, and North American Roofing continued its search for a new location.

The company considered locations in three states, according to the press release from Enterprise Florida.

“Tampa’s talent pool both in volume and skill set is what attracted us most," said Wade in the Enterprise Florida press release. “Beyond talent, Tampa offers everything we need to entice our key employees to relocate and ensure graduates of local universities and current workforce stay in the area — from a friendly business climate and a great lifestyle to philanthropic opportunities and excellent cultural amenities."

It's unclear how quickly the company will leave Asheville, but it's already posted Tampa job openings to its website.

Representatives from the Economic Development Coalition for Asheville-Buncombe County, which works to retain local companies, were not immediately available for comment Friday.

From The Citizen Times 

Trenton H. Cotney
Florida Bar Certified Construction Lawyer
Trent Cotney, P.A. 
407 N. Howard Avenue
Suite 100
Tampa, FL 33606