The old days of a property owner climbing on their roof to attach an antenna or to repair part of a roof or paint or wash it have now become more complicated. Roof maintenance is very important these days.

Changes in the government health and safety legislation have meant that a property owner can not employ anybody to assist with this work unless they meet all government health and safety requirements. The most expensive requirement is the need for full scaffolding surrounding the house including railing, stairs and other safety features. To bypass this requirement the property owner would need to pay his or her assistant “under the table” and not leave any paper trail that indicates that the assistant has been employed for this work.

How To Do Roof Maintenance

Because erecting and dismantling scaffolding is so expensive, property owners will try to avoid this step if they only need to do some minor repairs on the roof. This leads to the rather silly situation where property owners are actively encouraged to do the work in an unsafe fashion or at least to not take all the safety precautions that a professional roofing Upper Hutt repair person would be legally obliged to take. Homeowners will use extending ladders and step ladders to get up on the roof and may employ safety ropes and harnesses and timber roof ladders in an attempt to be safe. Private citizens can do that within the health and safety legislation,  but it does mean that the accident rate is far higher than that in the industry.

There is a real opening in the industry for operators who can find a quick and cheap way to operate safely on a roof in order to make minor repairs etc. Operators licensed for a rope and harness arrangement could find a lot of business if they were so inclined.

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I had a very funny experience many years ago while working in a property management company with Auckland roofing contractors. A young Irishman turned up at our office asking for rental accommodation, and he explained that he had had a very bad day.

He had a very good job working on a high rise building construction site as a builder, and he loved the work and had aspirations to progress in his chosen career in New Zealand and then overseas. Unfortunately on this day he had forgotten that management and put out a new rule that everybody working on level 1 or higher must be attached buy safety harness at all times to the safety rail that ran around every level. This was at the time that the New Zealand government was getting very serious about safety in the workplace and had bought in pretty far-reaching regulations wall contractors and managers of contracting firms.

Managers were basically wholly responsible and liable for any accidents on site. The young Irishman was spotted by the site foreman while he was walking around level one unattached with his safety harness hanging loose, in the form and yelled at him to come down immediately and meet with him at the ground level. He yelled so loud that all the workers on site heard him and stopped to see what was going on. The foreman then promptly marched the Irishman to the front gate of the site and told him that he was never allowed to set foot on the site again. The shocked Irishman then did what comes naturally in situations like this, and went off to the pub to get drunk.

While there he met a young lady that he managed to convince to come home with him. Unfortunately he forgot that his landlord had a rule of no visitors after hours, and his landlord rejected him from his rental property along with his bag and clothes. The Irishman turned up at our office desperate for accommodation and for even a little bit of sympathy. He had the grace to laugh along with us while we found him room in a very good flat, and he turned out to be a model tenant. He left New Zealand after a few months to go and work in poor villages in India to help children with their school. He was New Zealand’s loss.

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The Christchurch population boom is stressing most sectors, none more so than the contracting sector that serves the building industry. Shortages of skilled labour, supply chain disruptions and excessive customer demand means that the building industry is under stress plus there is a lot of customer dissatisfaction.

This is often visible in online reviews of contractors for roofing in Christchurch, with complaints of long delays for work and a lack of customer focus during the pre-sales process. Contractor groups such as roofers can basically pick and choose who they take on as clients, when they do the work and what they charge. Most roofers and other contractors are basically flat out trying to service the building boom.

In many respects the industry only has itself to blame, as skills shortages (one of the key problems behind stress in the sector) has been a long time in the making. The skill shortages are right across the board, but numerically the lack of technical trades persons is the biggest problem. Trades people generally require a lengthy apprenticeship and training, and the industry has done nothing in the past to ensure that the appropriate number of young people are entering into apprenticeships each year. The industry hasn’t seen it as their responsibility, but unfortunately neither has the Government hence the current skills shortage.

The skills shortage is made worse by the international building boom, meaning skilled overseas  tradespeople are in worldwide demand and hence are in short supply and are expensive. In NZ and in Christchurch in particular the problem is one of boom and bust, with the contracting industry seemingly unable or unwilling to plan ahead to ensure a good supply of skilled labour 3-5 years down the track. The short-term risk of future oversupply is apparently too much for this sector.

The stress in the sector shows no signs of reducing, and skilled immigration appears to be the main solution of choice – although it will not fix the problem. Large-scale industry-funded training and apprenticeships for young kiwis is apparently just too risky for NZ contractors. They don’t even know what a roof is, probably!

It looks like NZ customers will have to get used to a contracting sector that can pick and choose clients and set their own prices, unless overseas “mega contractors” come to the rescue by entering the NZ market.

 

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Hello! My name is Montana Mademall, I am a business woman from Ireland living in New Zealand. This is a blog I am writing about different business opportunities in New Zealand that I have noticed. From spouting & guttering companies to varicose vein doctors, I have information about all sorts of things!

Angel investors on smoke break

Let me tell you a little about myself. I am an angel investor, I invest tiny amounts of money in big numbers of businesses. A few hundred here, a few hundred there. Miniscule amounts! You might think its nothing, but you’d be surprised how many businesses can benefit from a little help here and there. For an angel investor I’m pretty small – more like a cherub perhaps? One of those love cherubs that shoot people with love arrows and make them fall in love – except they fall in love with business and entrepreneurship!

Some businesses don’t need much to get off the ground. Some contractors starting off charge a lot less than they ought, to get ‘exposure’ and their foot in the door, but charging such small amounts doesn’t give them the budget they need to get the work done. A little payment of $3-500NZD is just enough to help a freelancer in this situation to deliver great results to the client and still have enough left over to have a beer at the pub with their friends. Startup can be hard, and I should know! I have my own multiple businesses myself (which is how I have enough money to invest) and starting these businesses was not easy at all. I wish I had someone helping me out.

One time I had a date organised with this great guy, but I only had enough money in my bank account to either go on this date and have dinner with this guy or buy this new software for collecting leads for my business. I was too embarrassed to mention it to the guy so I just waited until the date and figured, if he buys me dinner I will buy the software, and if he does not, I will have to survive without the software. It was on a special ‘limited time offer’ where they raise the price a few weeks after product launch, so if I was going to buy it I had to buy it then. As it turned out, he wasn’t going to buy me dinner but when he saw me awkwardly buy the cheapest thing on the menu he inquired about it and offered to take care of the bill this time round, and I could buy him dinner next time. That was so awesome, it was such a relief! I got the software and it helped me with my lead generation over all my businesses. I’m not really a fan of the whole chivalrous ‘man pays for every date’ kind of thing so I’m glad it was just a loan. We ended up going out a few times but drifted apart after that for other reasons, but I still like him as a friend – but the point I’m trying to make is, people starting businesses are broke af and it sucks, so now that I’m successful I want to help others get through that. I get about 10% back on every investment – $500 might make me about $50 back in profit two weeks later. Not much, but they add up!

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