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Brian Bothun
Posted: Dec 17, 2010 04:12 PM
Equipment minimum.
Dabbling the idea of getting into spf roofing and don't know much of the details..

Few questions I have...

Proportioner size minimum?
Average to expected return?
Crew size?

I'm out in the sticks and don't plan on doing sky scraper sized buildings.

Posted: Dec 18, 2010 04:52 AM
Give SprayWorks Equipment Group a call. They are the leading industry experts in the field.
Posted: Dec 18, 2010 06:33 AM
Some important things to consider before we get any further here is your market size.

You mention right up that you are in the sticks. So that sounds like not very populated & usually associated with less than top income earners. Those are both problems to your business model. Consider the fact that a foam roof is more expensive than the cheapest option (whatever that is) and that cuts out some people from the market. Next remember a foam roof lasts pretty much the life of the building so repeat customers are out of the question in terms of the same building. So you have a small market to start then add in those two obstacles and it's actually smaller than you think.

Of course there is yearly inspection & maintenance reqt after you roof it right? That might account for 1/2 a day of work for each job you complete for the 25% of customers that actually will care to do that. Minimal income stream at best.

Big investment in time & $$$ so consider the facts before you jump in.
Posted: Dec 18, 2010 08:27 AM
Good luck if you go that route and do a good job. One bad foam roof can ruin a customer forever as well as put a knock on our industry.

I love going to a pre-bid conference for a foam roof and the Mod Bit guys are all crying because they are not spec'd in and they are telling horror stories about one foam that they saw if bfe. I always pisk them off when I remind them that if it wasn't for the mod bit guys I would not have a job. I always have to come back and fix their screw ups, plus I fasten their roof down correctly, the granulated cap sheets that they installed makes a great surface to spray on.

Machine Output:

I wouldn't go any less than a 30 Pound Output per minute machine. (The H-25 may be able to spray with an 03, if so, it may be a decent beginner rig) Anything less, you will have to spray smaller spray chambers, which will keep you on a roof for a long time. Your lifts will tend to be lighter and less stable because it takes so long to build up the correct thickness. I started with an E-20 and am giving you this advice out of experience.

Expected Returns:

Returns when you finally get into it may sound high, but don't let it fool you. You'll never keep a good crew if you only use them one or two days a week. Workers Comp and General Liability for Roofing is off the charts. When I first started and because I was fairly new to the business, my workers comp ran $40.00 for every $100.00 dollars worth of payroll that I paid out.

On top of that, you have weather issues to deal with, which doesn't allow you to spray every day. So don't let high margins fool you into believing you will get rich, because it doesn't work like that.

Safety Concerns:

When I first started, I was a sub for a GC. GC left the job to go look at another one and I never heard from him again. The guy fell through a 30' roof and was doa. This is not the same as spraying interior cavities on a wall. I have heard stories of guys getting tired and sitting on the side of a skylight in the middle of their roof falling to the ground. You need to be on your game at all time whether you are 10 ft up or 8 stories. Falling hurts no matter what and it can happen to the best of us no matter if you are 50 pounds overweight or a marathon runner in great shape. All it takes is one bad move or a bad decision. Learn to tie off as much as you can. Rope burn and a couple of bruises heals much quicker than a broken leg, arm or ruptured disc, which coincidentally would be letting you off light. Many of the roofers that I know never were able to get on a roof again after a fall and for some it was their last breath.

Crew Size: You can spray by yourself if you don't mind running up and down a ladder checking material, pulling a hose up a wall, kicking the hose out of your way as you walk backwards every 4-5 feet.

I don't recommend this if you don't want to overspray everyone or have a bumpy azz roof. I usually leave one guy in the rig to watch the material, check the machine, send things up to us, one guy on the hose 10 ft behind me and usually 2 guys ready to hold wind screens or a spray tent.

3-5 man crews plus an applicator are pretty much the norm out there unless you are in the middle of nowhere and you don't have to worry about overspray and you are doing small roofs.

So the simple answer is you can get away with one person, but it is no fun. If you do try to get away by yourself, get ready to work. In my mind and experience, it is a lot easier to pay a couple of guys to watch the machine, keep material ready to go one set behind the other, hold my hose and hold wind screens paying them $10-$15 an hour, than it is to do it by yourself and risk running out of material, being off ratio, let your hose drag into your pass line and overspray the 3 mercedes and a corvette a 1000 feet away.

I very rarely remeber days this pass year where wind wasn't a factor somewhere. Even if the wind is blowing 8-10 mph and there is no risk of overspray, the wind will still take up to 50% of your pattern 1-2 feet off of its target.

Roofing can be good, do it right, don't undercharge if you want to be in the business more than a few months and remember, chances are you will be going back to that roof again. God knows, the only thing that leaks on a roof is the roof, not the stucco guys who didn't seal the windows or copings, the ac guys who forgets to close the hatch nearly every time they go on the roof, the plummer's drain lines or the worker who spilled water on the floor and was to lazy to clean it up. All the customer knows is that he has water coming from somewhere and he is calling you at night, weekends, hollidays, etc... because you just charged him $50K for a new roof.

So when all is said and done, factor everything I said into the equation and multiply the problems by 2 or 3 and good luck to you. Do a good job and be proud of your workmanship and you will be okay.

If you are not proud of what you did, fix it before you leave. It will be a lot easier than going back in 6 months when a problem arises.

Don't be afraid to pay for training and remember, not everyone who can pull a trigger on a gun is a roofer.
Owen Whisnant
Posted: Dec 20, 2010 10:42 PM
Amen Bayou you are soooo right

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