Process considerations for smoother roof installations

 

Overview of the roofing process
Prior to installing a new roof, a roofing contractor will first meet with the client and perform an inspection to assess the condition of the roof, documenting any problems or issues that need to be resolved. At this point, a contractor will determine what roofing systems the client has used in the past and whether that system meets the needs of an upcoming project. The owner could also recommend a specific assembly, perhaps the same system previously used on the roof.

After this decision is made, the roof designer or engineer needs to be open to discussions with the contractor. It is helpful for the designer to have previous roofing experience so she or he can make recommendations from a design or engineering standpoint the roofing contractor may not have considered.

To make the bidding process as smooth as possible, designers should only request a bid for one type of system, rather than multiple options. This method avoids confusion and lets the owner evaluate the bidders by the same criteria.

Finally, the designer and roofing contractor must work together to overcome any specific issues arising during the installation process. There are many variables and situations that must be considered beforehand to ensure a smooth, problem-free installation and a high-performance final product.

Working with the building owner
Owners of buildings in need of new or repaired roofs are faced with an overwhelming amount of choices. Terms such as adhered, mechanically attached, ballasted, two-ply, single-ply, and membrane thickness may be outside their comfort zone, while there are also considerations for appearance, weather resistance, and maintenance.

The roof designer or engineer must be prepared to guide the owner through this process to ensure all options are considered and the owner is comfortable with their new or repaired roof. Resolving these issues early in the process is very important to ensuring a smooth installation process.

Working with the roofing contractor
When the specific roofing contractor involved with the project is determined, the designer or engineer should ask about examples of the contractor’s work or previous customer testimonials to get an accurate description of the company’s quality of work and past installations. Another important question for the contractor involves production capabilities and the ability to increase production to meet deadlines if needed. The deadline must be coordinated to present a realistic timeline to the building owner.

This author believes that, prior to the installation process, the most important job of the designer is clearly communicating the roof installation specifications to the contractor while answering any questions or concerns. These specifications
will be the central focus of the contractor during the roofing installation and must be thoroughly reviewed for quality and accuracy before the installation begins. Submittals including materials used for project and shop drawings that show design and detail information will assist contractor/designer communications. Warranty information from the contractor and manufacturer should also be included to address terms and length of coverage.

Variables to consider
As previously stated, roofing projects face a wide range of variables that can affect the final product, particularly during the installation phase. The following paragraphs offer an overview of individual variables designers and engineers should closely consider ensuring a smooth roofing installation on upcoming projects.

Building usage
A primary consideration during the design phase is the intended use of the building. The interior can be crucial in determining the roof system to eventually be applied to the exterior of the building. For example, based on the needs of the facility, the choice of the assembly can vary widely among schools, office buildings, hospitals, manufacturing facilities, and warehouses. Considering the end user’s needs during the design phase will help avoid time-consuming issues during the installation process.

Climate
Roofing materials play an important role in our environment. Light-colored roofs reduce the heat load on buildings, and dark-colored roofs increase heat load. Highly reflective materials return ultraviolet (UV) rays back into the atmosphere, raising overall temperatures as they bounce off the ozone layer. Roof designs incorporating vegetation reduce water runoff into municipal sewer systems, cool the environment, increase roof longevity, reduce energy use, and even calm the soul.

Efficiency
Another variable to consider is whether a particular R-value requirement needs to be met when installing the roof. This measure of thermal resistance represents the ratio of the temperature difference across an insulator and the heat flux through it. The necessary R-value speaks to the energy efficiency of the building; it must be taken into account when planning the roof installation.

Another factor to take into consideration is the possible return on investment (ROI) of installing photovoltaic (PV) panels. The technology offers considerable benefits in terms of energy reduction and cost savings on electricity, but the transition does not always make sense from a financial standpoint, depending on the nature of the building.


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System specifications
Several different types of roofing systems can be selected, depending on the needs of the building. Mechanically attached roofs are some of the most common—with this system, the building has a metal deck, then a layer of insulation, and then the roof. In this scenario, the membrane roll is screwed down and successive rolls are added piece by piece. A waterproof seal is then created by welding the membranes together, creating a flat, waterproof surface.

Adhered roofs are different in that they are glued directly to the insulation below them. This method can be more expensive and quite challenging, as large amounts of glue need to be applied at specific times and temperatures. These adhered roofs generally only make sense in very specific climates.

Ballasted roof systems can also be an attractive option due to their quick installation times. They also have one of the lowest life-cycle costs of any roof system commonly used in the market. In a ballasted roof system, stones or pavers hold the roofing components in place. Through this process, nearly all the adhesives and fasteners required by other systems are eliminated. This can greatly reduce the cost of the roof.

Access
There is also the question of access—what difficulties are there in getting to the job, and how can they be overcome? For example, power lines may act as an obstruction or building occupants may need to be taken into consideration. Often, particularly potent odors can emanate from a roofing install, presenting a potential issue for multi-family residential projects, hospitals, and schools.

Schedule
The most important element to consider when determining the schedule of a roof install is the expectations of the customer. It is important to set realistic expectations on the front end of the discussions in order to avoid miscommunication and confusion during the installation.

It is critical to set a realistic deadline that works for both the installer and the customer. If uncontrollable factors arise during the process, it is important to keep the lines of communication open with the customer. Setting specific work schedules and meeting agreed-upon deadlines is crucial to a smooth installation.

Special considerations
Other special considerations may need to be worked out and understood before the project begins. For example, if the building for which the roof installation is scheduled has dock doors, it is important to remember they allow wind to enter the building, creating a positive pressure underneath the roof deck. A specific fastening pattern design is required to ensure the roof maintains attachment when the doors are open.

 

Blog Source: Roofing Services and Solutions | Roofing Design: Process considerations for smoother installations

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