The need for increased roofing regulation in Oklahoma

The call for more regulation in one’s industry is not often done, especially in Oklahoma, a state known for her populist notions of reduced regulation and “less government is better.”

I want to make a case that more regulation in the roofing industry can actually be considered a populist idea. The local government can and should protect the property owner from predatory roofing companies who use nefarious sales techniques, poorly written contracts, and poor workmanship and/or roof design.

The roofing industry in Oklahoma is currently saturated with “roofing” companies that do little or no roofing. Most of these companies are actually just moving money around from insurance companies to sub-contracted work crews and materials distribution. It’s not uncommon for a roofing company in Oklahoma to have no employees, or the owner has never roofed a house or commercial building; in fact, they may not have any experience with roofing at all.

These types of roofing companies compete with each other to attract the same installation crews who may be installing roofs for dozens of roofing companies. The difference in quality between these companies is dependent on the decisions of the installers, not the roofing company owners.

With more regulation in the form of inspections, permitting, licensing, testing, minimum insurance requirements, and continuing education requirements, it would make it much more difficult to pass problems onto the installation crews. Also, bad practices would be more difficult to hide.

In commercial roofing, properly following building code can cause a proposal to be much more expensive than a company that doesn’t know the code or doesn’t care to follow building code. A building owner expects the roofing company to know how to design a roof that meets or exceeds the current building code. Electricians, plumbers, and framers do not regularly violate the building code. In the roofing industry, building code requirements are often violated.

When the local governments with jurisdiction require a robust system of minimum standards for the operation of a roofing company in their respective districts, the customer is the one who benefits. This is a movement toward protecting low and middle-income individuals who cannot afford to hire an engineer or architect to oversee their project.

Large commercial projects funded by wealthy companies are often overseen by commercial roofing consultants or other third-party construction professionals. Regulating construction projects is an ancient idea. This is not a new form of governance.

The Romans, ancient China, and other societies all over the world have instituted construction regulations in order to ensure life safety, design details, and minimum quality standards. This type of governance is common all over the world. In Oklahoma, we need to ask our local governments to protect us from inexperienced, “fly-by-night”, low-quality roofing companies.