The Cost of Independent Contractors

When it comes to commercial roofing and installing flat roofs there is a trend taking place that endangers businesses and building owners, many times without them even being aware of it. Classifying workers as independent contractors.

Many companies today, in an effort to out bid their competition, are classifying their workers as ・independent contractors・ instead of employees. This trend started in the residential market and has recently broadened into the flat roof market. By mis-classifying employees as independent contractors, commercial roofing contractors see a significant cost savings by not having to carry workers compensation insurance or having to withhold taxes and pay their share of payroll taxes. Business owners know the cost to overhead that workers compensation creates. Many commercial roofing contractors, unless they are very large companies, must get their workers compensation insurance through the state program.

gluing down the rubber membrane

gluing down the rubber membrane


The current rate in the state program for roofing is $43.12 per $100 of remuneration. That means for every dollar of wages paid to employees they pay an extra 43.12 cents. That is over 43% increase in labor costs they need to add to every bid they submit!

Why should this matter to building and business owners? When a worker gets hurt on the job there is a covenant by law – workers compensation pays all medical costs and a portion of lost wages, and in return the worker cannot file a lawsuit.(unless negligence is involved)

When a company classifies their workers as independent contractors there is no workers compensation to take care of the worker, therefore there is no covenant to protect the contractor OR the building and business owner.

That’s right, the building and business owner can be held liable for ALL

COSTS – medical, full lost wages, even punitive damages.

working at dawn

working at dawn


What can a business owner do? Require a ・certificate of insurance・ from the contractor during the bidding process. This certificate will come directly from their insurance agency, not from the contractor. This will provide proof that all of their workers are covered by workers compensation insurance and that you will be protected.

Contractors who engage in this practice also show savings by not having to withhold taxes or pay the employers share of employee taxes. In Pennsylvania that means paying an employer tax on the first $7000 of wages per employee for federal unemployment, first $9500 of wages per employee for state unemployment, AND their matching share of tax for both Social Security and Medicare.

This also deprives the worker of any contributions to their social security account thereby significantly lowering any amounts they would receive in retirement.

Studies have shown the extent of the problem. Studies have shown that in California more than 104,100 jobs were unreported. Other state studies showed these numbers of non-compliant employers misclassifying workers;

– in Maine 14 percent of construction employers

– in Indiana, 47.5% of all employers audited between 2007 and 2008

– in Minnesota in 2005, 14% of employees

– and in Pennsylvania last year alone, DOL investigations resulted in more than $74 million in back wages for more than 102,000 workers

loading the roof

loading the roof

Business and building owners looking for a new flat roof, rubber roof, or any commercial roof and/or building alterations should be aware of this situation and do their part to correct it.

Rubber Roofing

For you commercial property owners, property managers, and owners of industrial properties – check out Versico Rubber Roofing or Carlisle Commercial Roof Systems websites. There you may click on their Resources tab for information on the many options available for your buildings roofing needs. These include EPDM rubber roof systems, TPO white roof systems, PVC and Green Roof systems for your commercial or industrial building.


ROOF COATINGS Part II- Asphalt & Elastomeric Coatings

Let’s start with asphalt coating. First, NEVER use asphalt coating on an EPDM roof. Asphalt roof coatings have solvents that keep the asphalt in a liquid state. EPDM rubber membrane will be deteriorated by the solvents in the coating. When it comes to roofing there will be two basic types of asphalt coating – Fibered Apshalt Coating and Emulsion Coating. When getting a price for asphalt coating always make sure that it will be fibered asphalt coating. This means it will have fibers mixed into the coating to provide additional strength and help keep it from cracking open.

Fibered Roof Coating may be used on smooth surface BUR, or SBS or APP Modified Bitumen Membranes, metal surfaces and roll-roofing as a protective coating. It may also be used as a restorative or repair, albeit usually a short term one – meaning anywheres from 1 to 5 years. This coating is not resistant to ponding water.

Some contractors or homeowners have used this type of repair for asphalt shingle roofs. ARMA (Asphalt Roofing Manufacturer’s Assoc.) strongly advises against the application of any type of field-applied coating over installed asphalt shingles. Problems reported after asphalt shingle roofs have been field coated include shrinking of the coating, which may result in unsightly curling and/or cupping of the shingles, or loosening of the granule surfacing of the asphalt shingles. In addition, non-permeable roof coatings may create a vapor retarding layer by sealing the voids around and between the shingles. If this occurs, it increases the possibility of rotting of the roof deck caused by moisture accumulation in the attic space.

Most Emulsion Roof Coatings are manufactured with refined asphalt, bentonite clay, emulsifiers and fibers for brush or spray application on smooth surface and metal roofs. The dried film cures to a tough, flexible, durable finish and will resist variations in temperature and weather. Emulsion Roof Coating will not burn or support combustion in a liquid state. It has no odor or fumes,(since there are no solvents) and resists the absorption of exterior moisture. Most Emulsion Roof coating can be applied to slightly damp surfaces and is resistant to ponding water.

Roof repairs using these products are usually done at a coverage rate between 1.5 and 3 gallons of product per roof square. (One square equals 100 square feet) The coating can be applied using spray, roller or brush. Adhesion is best achieved using a roller or brush.


Elastomeric Coatings –

Elastomeric coatings are basically just a rubber membrane in a liquid form.

Some are acrylic based and others have an oil base. The oil based coatings are often resistant to ponding/ standing water while the acrylic ones are not. Some of the advantages are;

-Highly reflective… most of these coatings are white with a high 88% initial reflectivity saves energy costs by directing heat away from the building

-Saves energy… Lowers the temperature inside the building to save energy costs during warm and hot months

-Water based and low VOC… Approved for use even in states with tough UV standards

-Versatile… Can be adhered to a variety of substrates, including granulated BUR, SBS & APP, metal, wood, and concrete and can be applied by spray, roller, or brush

-Strong and resistant… some of these provide up to 150% elongation and 250 psi tensile strength

-Provides a seamless flexible membrane when finished!

Application rates vary depending on the product and, more importantly, the type of surface you are coating. Repairs done with this type of product are a more substantial repair capable of lasting for years.

When this type of product is combined with a reinforcing membrane it forms a roof system. These roof systems may need periodic re-coating.




Rubber Roofing – BLACK OR WHITE?


A full review of the article may be viewed HERE.


The days when heating and cooling costs were a relatively insignificant line item on a building owner’s budget are long gone. Oil prices, though lower than they were earlier in the year, remain high and extremely unstable. Natural gas and coal prices are also on the rise. All of these increases and instability have led to higher heating and cooling costs, and property

owners are doing all they can to keep them in check through the use of energy-efficient building materials.

An argument can be made that the focus on energy efficiency has impacted the roofing industry more than most. Numerous codes have been developed, organizations formed and regulations established—all in the interest of addressing the issue of energy efficient roofing. Over the past decade, energy efficiency within the roofing market has been focused on cool roofing, which utilizes light-colored materials such as thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) to reflect sunlight and solar energy away from a building and keep it cooler.

It has been proven through numerous studies that, under some circumstances, a building’s air conditioning-related energy consumption can be reduced through the use of reflective roofing materials. These studies, along with some irresponsible marketing efforts, have helped create a perception within the roofing industry that reflectivity is the best option for reducing energy consumption.

But, there is a catch with that philosophy and caution must be used when specifying cool-roof systems. The energy savings that buildings experience due to the use of reflective roofing materials are most often realized in warm, southern climates where Cooling Degree Days (CDD) outnumber Heating Degree Days (HDD) and air conditioning is more prevalent than heating. To help reduce heating-related energy demands, which are greater than air conditioning demands in northern regions, dark-colored materials such as EPDM membranes are most often beneficial. That is because materials like EPDM absorb heat and transfer exterior solar energy into a building, causing interior temperatures to rise, helping to alleviate the demands placed on heating systems.

Unfortunately, there continues to be a misconception throughout much of the industry that reflective roofing is the panacea for our buildings’ energy woes regardless of geographical location. This could not be further from the truth. If looked at strictly from an energy-efficiency perspective, research and data prove that materials like EPDM can provide the same, or better, energy savings as a light-colored alternative in many locations.

The numbers indicate that the move toward reflective roofing in many parts of the country may be unwarranted, and in fact, counterproductive to the goal of minimizing overall energy consumption. The numbers also suggest that there should be more focus on cutting heating costs, and not cooling costs, which makes dark-colored membranes such as EPDM an important asset in the push for energy efficiency. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), in conjunction with its research wing the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), has developed a Cool Roof Calculator to help consultants, architects, roofing contractors and building owners determine the most efficient and cost-effective roof system for any given project. Accessible through the DOE web site, the Cool Roof Calculator simulates building energy consumption based on the type of roofing membrane and amount of insulation that is installed.

Users can pinpoint the analysis within the Cool Roof Calculator based on the zip code of their project, resulting in direct, head-to-head comparisons of various roofing assemblies. In most instances, dark colored membranes will prove to be more energy efficient than light-colored materials for projects located in cooler climates.


EPDM & Sustainability


The following is reprinted with permission from Carlisle-Syntec.

Single-ply EPDM roofing membrane has an impressive history of performance in the commercial roofing industry, where it has been utilized since the 1960s.Today, the construction industry’s emphasis on long-term performance and sustainability is causing EPDM’s popularity to increase, thanks to its excellent durability and long service life. Numerous EPDM roofs installed in the 1980s are still performing today, positioning EPDM as one of the strongest and most durable single-ply membranes on the market.

There have been many studies conducted regarding the performance and physical properties of EPDM membranes, but nothing proves quality and longevity like time-tested performance in the real world. Two buildings located in the state of Maine provide an unparalleled and undeniable exhibit of the strength and long-term durability of EPDM membranes. Originally installed more than 30 years ago, the Livermore Falls Building in Livermore Falls, Maine and the Cives Steel Paint Shop in Augusta, Maine have both stood the test of time and their EPDM roofs are still performing today. Download a full case study here
To learn more about long-term and sustainable benefits of EPDM roofing systems, visit or contact Ron Goodman at