Don Putnam has been repairing, replacing, inspecting, and evaluating roofs for more than 45 years, first as a contractor while in high school in the 1960’s (he had between 15-18 employees during his senior year) and then as a full time roof consultant after founding Austech Roof Consultants in 1984.
That same year the State of Texas instituted a requirement that home inspectors become certified in several disciplines, including the inspection of roofs. At the request of Dr. Charlie Flanders, with the Engineering Extension Services Department at Texas A&M University, Don created and taught a course at A&M entitled: Residential Roof Inspection, which was attended by architects, engineers, and home inspectors. The participant’s passing rate on the state exam was reported to be 100%!
Don created a similar course for the Texas Association of Real Estate Inspectors (TAREI) in 1985, also entitled: Residential Roof Inspection, and has provided course instruction for TAREI members for most of the last 25 years. He also provides year round technical support for TAREI members and stays in touch with home inspectors all over Texas. Don is approved by the Texas Real Estate Commission as an instructor in the field of roof inspection and continues to teach, providing educational programs for various state and federal government agencies.
During his years at Austech, Don’s focus was on roof consulting and design and specification of roof replacement projects, primarily for school districts and state and federal government agencies. Don says ” I was very fortunate to bring in a partner, Brian Gardiner. Brian is a people person and a visionary, who very early on realized the importance of transitioning to AutoCAD and standardizing the specifications process using the CSI 3-part format. The firm began to grow and we were working 60-70 hours a week producing reroofing specifications, detail drawings, and project manuals 2″ thick, and, although we were producing an absolutely excellent work product, it just wasn’t the way I wanted to spend my days.”.
Don left Austech in 1991 to form the company that became Putnam Construction Consulting. His focus shifted more to the forensic side of the business – analyzing and investigating failed roofs and leaky buildings, which naturally lead to more work as an expert witness in litigation. To date, Don has served as a roof expert in more than 100 cases, and has provided expert witness testimony in approximately 85 cases to date. “Although some people may not like the idea of all the construction litigation that goes on the world”, Don says, “there are a lot of property owners and school districts out there who have been wronged – sometimes to the tune of hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars – by sub-standard construction, defective products, and denial of valid hail and wind damage claims. The insurance companies defending against these claims have armies of attorneys and well-funded experts at their disposal. The property owners and tax-payers who own all these leaky and storm-damaged buildings are entitled to an expert too, and when they get me, they get the best in the business!”
Most roof and building envelope consultants are not interested in working for homeowners; they pursue commercial and public works projects only. Don enjoys doing residential roof inspections because “I get to help more people, and homeowners are generally very appreciative clients. When there are problems with the roof, or leaky windows and doors on your own home, it affects your personal space and can be detrimental to a healthy environment. I like helping these folks, and I’m good at it.”