Ross Finnie and Adam Trickett, SIG Design & Technology Sales Director and Sales Executive respectively, discuss the formation, content and benefits of SIG’s online CPD for roofing with Architecture Today’s Technical Editor John Ramshaw

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SIG Design & Technology set up its RIBA-approved online CPD seminar offering shortly before lockdown and began delivering four events a week from 30 March last year. Since then, the six-strong team has completed more than 40 webinars covering four topics: flat roof design and specification, roof refurbishment, natural slate roofing and specifying hard metal roofs. One year on, Ross Finnie and Adam Trickett, SIG Sales Director and Sales Executive respectively, in conversation with Architecture Today’s Technical Editor John Ramshaw, discuss how and why the online CPD was set up, what the benefits are for specifiers, and what lessons have been learnt. Meanwhile, the CPD facilitators comment on the most common questions they have been asked, what surprised them most, and what key advice they have for specifiers.


elZinc Rainbow Brown zinc cladding at Church Walk in London by CH Architects (ph: Terence Smith)

How and why did SIG Design & Technology establish an online CPD for roofing?
RF: Prior to Covid we had been developing an online roofing CPD with the aim of making continuing professional development more accessible for smaller practices. With the arrival of the pandemic early last year, SIG took the decision to make the CPD available for all practices – ensuring we could continue to advise and help architects in a safe and constructive manner.

AT: In terms of getting the online offering up and running, Su Butcher of Just Practising played a key role, along with members of the SIG team who all pulled together during that first lockdown.


SIGA 112S roof slates at St James’ Park in Manchester (ph: Terence Smith)

What has the response been, and what are the benefits for architects of attending the CPD events?
RF: We’ve had a great response with 17-18 people on average attending each event. There are a number of benefits for architects. First, is accessibility; the frequency and online nature of the CPDs make them easy for specifiers to schedule into their busy diaries. Second, the content is informative, wide ranging and above all useful. SIG adopts a product agnostic approach, which means that it will always favour the most effective solution for any given project. It has expertise across a wide range of roofing types, from liquid applied membranes to copper and zinc, as well as the interfaces between different systems and materials. Third, the presentations are ‘live’, which means that participants can engage with and ask questions of the expert SIG presenters.

AT: I would add that the presentations give specifiers an opportunity to get to know specific SIG products and systems in terms of their performance, lifespan and warranties. And also because these are RIBA-approved events they allow architects to gain valuable CPD points!

elZinc Rainbow Green zinc cladding at Colby Lodge in London by Pollard Thomas Edwards (ph: Terence Smith)

Have you had to change the way you deliver the online CPDs?
RF: There is no doubt that presenting online requires a different approach. I struggled initially, as it is harder to interact with a virtual audience and gauge its reaction. Online audiences also seem more reticent to ask questions, because of the start/stop nature of communicating virtually in larger groups. We’ve adapted to these issues – for example by contacting the practices prior to the events and asking the attendees if there are any specific topics or areas of interest they would like us to cover in more detail.

AH: Participants are also encouraged to ask questions during the event. The main limitation with virtual events is that presenters can’t hand out material samples for attendees to examine and feel; very important when you are specifying finishes. This is something that would normally happen during the Specifying Hard Metals CPD to show the effects of weathering on different materials.


Armourplan PSG roof at Honiton Community College in Devon (ph: Richard Nash)

AT: Post-Covid, do you still plan to run traditional CPDs, and what future plans do you have regarding online events?
RF: The success of our online CPDs, coupled with the widespread acceptance and proliferation of virtual communication tools, means that they will be offered in parallel with conventional in-office events – when the latter are permitted. Greater choice for specifiers is clearly a good thing.

In terms of future plans, we would like to introduce a new roofing CPD focused on fire. Issues surrounding fire safety are highly topical for obvious reasons, and SIG is well placed to provide clarification on current legislation that many specifiers find ambiguous and/or confusing. The CPD will also explore what types of roofing system are suitable for specific applications, and what SIG’s approach is to designing for fire safety.


NedZink NOVA zinc cladding at Northbrook College in Worthing by ECE Architecture (ph: Terence Smith)

CPD review
In the second part of this feature, we look back at SIG’s four online CPD events, revealing their scope, the most common and unusual audience questions asked, and what key advice the presenters have for specifiers.


The Specifying Hard Metals: Choosing the Right Product for the Project CPDs are presented by Paul Cousins and Simon Walker

Specifying Hard Metals: Choosing the Right Product for the Project
Presented by Paul Cousins and Simon Walker, Business Development Manager and Category Manager respectively at SIG Zinc & Copper, the Specifying Hard Metals CPD is designed to give specifiers a better understanding of hard metal roofing and cladding systems, as well as the different options available: zinc, copper, aluminium and stainless steel. It also explores roof and facade system options and their relevant construction methods.

According to Cousins, the most common questions asked are: ‘Which is the best roof build-up for zinc, copper and aluminium?’ ‘How long does coloured zinc last for?’ ‘Which is the right VCL to use on zinc, copper and aluminium roofs?’ And ‘How can you minimalise oil canning on metal sheets?’ He says that no question would ever surprise him, but ‘Can you paint zinc?’ stood out from the usual ones. Cousins’ principal advice for specifiers is to ensure that the right roof build-up is always used, and that the VCL is employed in the correct way.

For Walker, the most common questions asked are: ‘How expensive is zinc?’ ‘How long will it last?’ And ‘Can I fit it myself?’ He was most surprised by two questions: ‘Can I lay a green roof over zinc?’ And ‘Will zinc kill my plants?’ The category manager urges specifiers to engage with SIG Zinc &Copper at an early stage to ensure that the roof design is correct. Problems can be very expensive to rectify after the event, he says.


A Structured Approach to Roof Specification and Design is facilitated by Ross Finnie

A Structured Approach to Roof Specification and Design
Ross Finnie’s flat roofing CPD is designed to provide specifiers with a better knowledge of roofing systems through a closer understanding of the client brief and compliance with UK British Standards and Codes of Practice. It also explores how to choose the best roofing system for the job and when to specify single ply, hot melt, hard metals or liquid coatings.

Among the most common questions asked are: ‘How do I choose the right roofing system for my project?’ And ‘How can I ensure that the specified system will meet the client’s requirements?’ Specifiers also ask frequent questions relating to Part B and Part L of the Building Regulations, reveals Finnie. The Sales Director candidly says that he was most surprised by the fact that many specifiers hadn’t previously heard of SIG – the largest roofing supplier in the country! Finnie’s advice for architects is to seek early engagement with specialist suppliers, such as SIG, to ensure common mistakes and problems are designed out.