Meeting a CPS Inspector

Meeting a CPS Inspector

Earlier this month,  CPS inspectors met up for a standardisation meeting – a vital part of maintaining UKAS accreditation as roofing inspectors. We were able to catch up with Duncan Arnold, who has been a roofing inspector for the NFRC CPS for just over two years.

We talked about his thoughts on the new mandatory technical competency requirements, why January is his least favourite month, and the best piece of advice for roofing contractors wanting to become part of the NFRC Competent Person Scheme. 

Tell us a bit about yourself, Duncan

I’m Duncan Arnold, I live in Kent and I’ve been an inspector with the NFRC Competent Person Scheme for around two years.

What did you do before you became a roofing inspector?

I’ve been involved in roofing for over 20 years, mostly selling roofing materials. I ran a roofing merchant, and then moved to working for a Spanish slate company. I’ve always been around the roofing industry, but most inspectors have come from a roofing background. While I’m not a roofer by trade, I definitely know enough to put one on.

Could you give me an idea of what a day looks like for a roofing inspector?

We visit sites, in order to check the materials and workmanship of the registered contractors. We’re looking to make sure that they’re using the right materials to the correct standard for whichever discipline. We’re not only looking at the general workmanship, but we’re making sure that everyone working on site is working safely. Because CPS contractors have the ability to self certificate roofing projects, we’re not visiting every project, we’re visiting random ones. Not a surprise visit, but making sure that their guys on site are doing what they should be doing.

When you’re not on site, what does the rest of your job look like? 

We also visit company offices to carry out office audits for new applicants to make sure they have got things in place. Health and safety, roofing qualifications, having a knowledge of standards within the office, that they’re carrying out risk assessments, methods statements etc. Then, everything needs reporting back to the base, so it can be signed off, and we can ensure that we’re inspecting people to the standard that UKAS – the governing body – requires.

You inspect the roofers. Does someone then inspect you?

We have to have a level of competency as inspectors. We can’t just walk into the job. We need to be seen to be qualified to a certain level to carry out the role of a roofing inspector. We also need ongoing training and continued professional development to make sure we’re up-to-date with standards and things that change. For example, we’ve recently undergone solar training, as solar is becoming more and more prominent on roofs. We don’t want to find we’re turning up to inspect a roof with solar panels without knowing if the roofers are installing them correctly.

Do you have an opinion on the mandatory technical competency requirements coming in? 

9 times out of 10, the beauty of the competent roofers scheme and the NFRC membership is that the roofers are conscientious roofers. They want to do things right and that’s why they’ve joined the scheme. They’re not just joining to tick a box and get a sticker for the side of their van. Having said that, there’s still a lot of rogue traders around, and the competency requirements help to separate the rogue traders from the conscientious roofers. In every other trade, electricians, plumbers, heating engineers for example, they have to be certified to a certain standard. So I think the competent person scheme is the industry standard for roofing. 

Lots of companies who send out tenders for roofing – especially when it comes to local authorities and housing associations, they say that roofing contractors must be registered on the Competent Person Scheme. Which is good! I think the industry needs that standard. Remember it’s not just about workmanship, it’s also about working safely. Silly things do happen. Sometimes people will cut corners to cut costs.

Do  you think the new Mandatory Technical Competency Requirements will have an impact on the industry? Help to weed out some of the rogue traders you mentioned?

Overall, I do.And although there will always be a certain element of rogue traders, I think if property owners are made more aware of what is required for roof repair work, that will help too. For example if more than 50% of the roof is replaced, insulation will need to be upgraded. There should be paperwork for this, that owners will need to have if they go on to sell their property.

Do you think property owners aren’t educated enough about the roofing work they have done?

I do, although I think it’s getting better. I listen to a lot of radio because I drive a lot. I listen to Radio 4 and consumer programmes that regularly talk about rogue traders.  I’m too busy working to watch TV, but do you remember the TV show, Rogue Traders? Programmes like that and Watchdog have done a lot to highlight these things and make people sit up and think.

I’m a roofer and I’m going to apply to join the Competent Person Scheme. What’s the best piece of advice you can give me to join the scheme?

Make sure you have everything in place before you start your application.  But if you’re a fledgling roofing company or you’re just starting out, remember we’re here to help. We won’t turn you away. If you’re trying to make things right by joining the NFRC and the Competent Person scheme, we will support you.

What’s the best thing about being a roofing inspector?

Getting to see lots of different roofs. I was on a roof opposite the Old Bailey recently. It was level with the Lady of Justice, which I imagine is an angle which no one gets to see her from, so that was special.  The next day I found myself on a grade 1 listed property. No two days are the same.

What’s the worst thing?

January. Because it’s cold. We’re always fighting the elements. If it’s wet and windy, you might end up driving 50 miles to do an inspection, only to find that no one is on site because conditions are too bad to work. But, it’s the industry we’re in. Everyone who does this role works around it because we know that you can’t guarantee the English weather. 


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