What specifiers look for in a roof

Product performance, warranty, and the manufacturer's reputation are the most important roofing attributes, according an exclusive survey of BD&C readers.
August 11, 2010

When evaluating the merits of roofing systems, specifiers generally consider a product's performance record, warranty, and the manufacturer's reputation before all other attributes, according to a recent survey of 300 designers, contractors, and building owner/developers by Reed Research Group, a sister company of Building Design & Construction.

More than 84% of respondents said product performance is an "extremely important" or "very important" trait (see table below). Nearly 80% said warranty was a crucial attribute, followed by the manufacturer's reputation (72%), customer support (66.3%), required maintenance (65.3%), and fire protection (57.7%). All respondents said they regularly purchase, specify, and/or recommend brands and types of roofing systems.

Surprisingly, environmental considerations ranked last on the list of key attributes. Just 44.3% of respondents said it was an extremely important or very important characteristic. Speed/ease of installation and appearance also ranked at the bottom of the list, with a little more than half of respondents designating them as crucial features.

While the three disciplines surveyed for this report (designers, contractors, owners/developers) generally agreed on the relative importance of various attributes, there were several discrepancies worth noting. Owners/developers ranked fire protection as the third most important attribute when specifying a roofing system, with 72% saying it's extremely important or very important. Just 56% of architects/engineers and 46.7% of contractors agreed.

Energy savings also ranked high with owners and developers (64%), but only half of designers and contractors surveyed said it was very or extremely important.

Architects/engineers ranked both ease to do business with and speed/ease of installation at the bottom of the list, with less than 44% saying they are very important traits. In contrast, more than 66% of contractors and 64% of owners/developers said they are key attributes.

When broken down by region, the relative importance of key attributes is generally the same, with a few exceptions. Survey respondents that reside in the South, for instance, place much more emphasis on energy savings than professionals in other regions. More than 60% of respondents from the South said energy savings is extremely important or very important, compared with just 45.3% from the Midwest, 49.4% from the Northeast, and 54.3% from the West.

Fire protection ranked alarmingly low with Midwest respondents, with less than 40% saying it was a key feature. Those surveyed in other regions ranked it as a top-five attribute, on average.

Those surveyed from the West placed much less emphasis on the manufacturer's reputation (51.4%) and warranty (68.6%) than those from the other regions. About 80% of respondents from the South, Midwest, and West said the warranty is a key attribute, and nearly 74% said the manufacturer's reputation is a vital trait.

When gathering general information about roofing products, respondents say they prefer to use manufacturers' websites and manufacturers' representatives before all other sources.

More than 30% of those surveyed chose manufacturers' websites as their top source for product information. Nineteen percent prefer manufacturers' representatives, followed by McGraw-Hill's Sweets catalog (12.2%), industry trade publications (11.6%), manufacturers' literature (8.8%), and distributors (7.8%).

Nearly 20% of respondents said they used a roofing consultant on their last roofing project.

Owner/developers are more likely to hire a roofing consultant than designers or contractors, according to the survey. More than a quarter of owner/developers surveyed hired a roofing consultant on their last project, compared to just 16% of contractors and 18% of architect/engineers.

Which roofing attributes do you consider to be 'very important'?

Attribute Total Architect/engineer Contractor Owner/developer
Base: 300
Source: Reed Research Group, 11/05
A survey of 300 BD&C readers who regularly purchase, specify, and/or recommend brands and types of roofing systems shows that a product's performance record is the most crucial attribute when evaluating a roofing system. Nearly 85% of respondents said product performance is "very important," followed by warranty (79%), manufacturer's reputation (72%), and customer support (66.3%).



Product performance record 84.3% 82.7% 92.0% 80.0%
Warranty 79.0% 76.0% 82.7% 81.3%
Manufacturer's reputation 72.0% 72.0% 74.7% 69.3%
Customer support 66.3% 62.7% 70.7% 69.3%
Required maintenance 65.3% 66.7% 58.7% 69.3%
Fire protection 57.7% 56.0% 46.7% 72.0%
East to do business with 54.3% 43.3% 66.7% 64.0%
Energy savings 53.7% 50.7% 49.3% 64.0%
Appearance 53.3% 48.0% 57.3% 60.0%
Ease of installation 53.0% 40.7% 65.3% 65.3%
Environmental considerations 44.3% 40.0% 42.7% 54.7%