Working With Homeowners Associations Means Taking on Big Challenges

Glenwood Townhomes in San Dimas, California, includes 185 residential units, a clubhouse, standalone garage and park restroom building. The re-roofing project encompassed 250,000 square feet of shingles. Photos: La Rocque Better Roofs

A quick glance at the numbers reveals that Glenwood Townhomes in San Dimas, California, is not your everyday residential re-roofing project. Featuring 185 units plus a clubhouse, standalone garage and park restroom building, and requiring the installation of 250,000 square feet of shingles, the project is expansive in scope, to say the least. But for nearly 40 years, La Rocque Better Roofs has enjoyed taking on challenging roofing projects, and the team put a plan in place to take on a very ambitious and complex assignment.

With literally hundreds of homeowners impacted by the re-roofing project, the Glenwood Townhomes Home Owner Association (HOA) board of directors through its property management company, Personal Touch Property Management Company, actively sought a roofing company that had been in business for 20-plus years and, most importantly, was experienced in working with HOAs. Doug McCaulley, owner of Personal Touch Property Management Company, has managed Glenwood HOA for several years and knew he needed a company that was large enough and had the proper labor force to handle the size of the project — and would also be around to honor its warranty.

La Rocque Better Roofs has served customers throughout Southern California since 1981, and approximately 80 percent its business is focused on HOAs. The company has developed a process for effectively managing the multiple parties and considerations involved in HOA remodeling projects. Beyond the HOA board, other parties commonly involved in re-roofing projects include property management companies, roofing consultants, and maintenance and service organizations. From a project management perspective, challenges involved in HOA remodeling projects include dealing with any structural or code-related discoveries that arise once the project begins and minimizing inconvenience to residents.

The HOA board selected the Owens Corning TruDefinition Duration shingle in Desert Tan. Members desired both the aesthetics and the benefits of solar reflectivity. Photos: La Rocque Better Roofs

Labor availability is a key consideration for HOA projects, as such projects require a sizeable labor pool to be available for an extended period. Rory Davis, vice president of HOA Sales at La Rocque Better Roofs, says a readily available roofing team was a key factor in the selection of La Rocque Better Roofs for the project. “We do not subcontract our workers and work with a team of 75-110 people, depending upon the time of year, so that the project stays on schedule,” says Davis.

While project management skills, logistical know-how and labor are all required for HOA projects, the most important element in a re-roofing project is satisfying the homeowners living in the community. All these considerations went into La Rocque Better Roofs’ approach to the re-roofing of Glenwood Townhomes.

A Customized Approach to Roof Removal

The design of the Glenwood Townhomes community presented some structural challenges. Detached garages adjacent to each building blocked access for workers during the removal process. La Rocque Better Roofs found a way to resolve this challenge, investing in customized, extra-wide, sturdy walk boards to bridge the distance between the homes and garages. The walk boards allowed roofers to remove roofing from the home and then walk the removed materials directly into the truck. “Walking the debris right to the truck was a big plus, because materials didn’t touch the ground and didn’t come into contact with mature shrubs and landscaping,” says Guy La Rocque, president and CEO. “It was reassuring to homeowners to know that nails and debris wouldn’t be dropped in their yards and exterior living areas.” The system also supported efficiency. La Rocque estimates the walk boards reduced tear-off time by four to five hours per building.

“Safety and efficiency on all of worksites are key factors in being a successful and sought-after company,” La Rocque states. “The rules and requirements are constantly changing with OSHA, and it’s our responsibility as the management team at La Rocque Better Roofs to make sure all our employees are always up to date with the latest information. Our weekly Tailgate Safety Meetings as well as our monthly safety and education meetings help us maintain a level of awareness. It’s one thing to be educated in OSHA’s safety requirements; it’s another thing to implement and monitor these safety procedures on our jobsites.”

Surprises are not uncommon when remodeling mature properties. During the re-roofing project, some fireplaces in the community were found to be unstable. La Rocque Better Roofs worked with city permitting officials and engineers to retrofit the fireplaces so that they remained safe and functional without requiring a complete tear-down and rebuilding of the fireplaces.

Communication and the “Contractor Bubble”

Among the many steps La Rocque Better Roofs employed to simplify the process, Guy La Rocque says communication with residents was especially valuable. “We scheduled after-hours meetings with the residents to keep them informed about the project, answer their questions and let them know what to expect,” he says. “Over the years, we’ve found the best thing you can do is get homeowners involved. You can never communicate enough, so we let residents know what time our crews would be on site, where the crews would be working and what we expected to accomplish. “

Crews from La Rocque Better Roofs made sure to protect the landscaping as the project progressed. The company has made working for HOAs its primary focus. Photos: La Rocque Better Roofs

From La Rocque’s perspective, too many contractors operate in a “contractor bubble,” losing sight of other opportunities to add value to both homeowners and the contractor’s business. Listening to homeowners helps open up opportunities that may exist for additional work. “When you get homeowners involved, you get a different perception of what needs to happen,” La Rocque says. “The majority of us are homeowners, but many times we forget the most important thing we want from a contractor is communication.” He adds that the construction industry has suffered from a perception that too often contractors show up and leave whenever they want, leaving the customers in the dark. No one likes to be surprised. Keeping the homeowner informed can go a long way toward achieving more satisfied customers and generating more referrals.

Davis says that communication has never been more important than today, in the era of social media. “Yelp has become the new Better Business Bureau,” he says. “Social media provides more opportunities than ever before for consumers to either pat us on the back or criticize us.”

 Changing it Up

The Glenwood Townhomes community was built in 1973, and the roof replacement provided an opportunity to introduce trending colors and technology improvements to residents’ roofs. The HOA board wanted to select a color that would lighten up the overall look of the community and also take advantage of solar reflectivity. The HOA selected the Owens Corning TruDefinition Duration shingle in Desert Tan.

Asked about the shingle manufacturer’s involvement in the project, Davis says manufacturers’ reps can make a big difference. “Availability is key, and a willingness to bring samples onsite or address any problems that come up is critical. You learn a lot by how a manufacturer deals with any problems that arise. We may go years without a problem, but when something happens, we want someone who will step up,” he says. He also likes the Owens Corning Sure Nail technology and says the strip that ensures optimal placement of each nail is a plus.

HOA projects are not for every contractor. But through planning, establishing strong relationships with engineers, permitting organizations and other partners, thoughtful approaches to on-site challenges and most importantly, listening to customers, HOAs present an opportunity for contractors to take on projects of size and style.

Elite Roofing Supply Celebrates its Fifth Year in Business with Six Branch Openings

Elite Roofing Supply recently added branches in Monroe and Bossier City, LA; Tucson and Mesa, AZ; and Denver, CO to its list of branch locations and is scheduled to open Lynwood, CA on September 1, 2018. Founded in 2013, Elite’s mission is to provide roofers with an independent distributor that is knowledgeable in both commercial and residential roofing and committed to being good stewards in the industry and serving the professional roofing contractor community.

Recognizing the Louisiana market was underserved, Elite opened two strategically-placed locations in Bossier City and Monroe. The Bossier City branch with its 11 team members and fleet of three trucks, serves the surrounding Shreveport area and is operated by Managing Partner, Robert McCalman. Robert is from Bossier City and has been in the construction industry for 25 years, 14 of which have been in roofing distribution. The Monroe, LA location serves customers within a 100-mile radius of its location. Managing Partner and Branch Manager, Doug Norman, a Louisiana native, has a long history in the industry having worked in building product distribution as an owner and manager for over 35 years. He oversees a team of 12 highly skilled people and a fleet of four trucks to serve the area.

With its roots in Arizona, Elite’s growth with its Mesa and Tucson branches expands its opportunity to service this important market. The Tucson location is led by Managing Partner, Rick D’Alessio, a seasoned professional with over 30 years in the roofing and construction industry. This branch employs 11 people and operates four vehicles in its fleet. Paul LeFevre is the managing partner of the Mesa branch, overseeing a team of 14 people and a fleet of four vehicles. Paul has more than 30 years of industry experience starting in 1986 as a truck driver and quickly moving into an inside sales position. He ascended the ranks holding different positions such as Purchasing Manager, Manager of Procurement and Regional Manager for one of the larger distributors.

The Lynwood, CA branch is placed at a key location close to where I-105 meets I-710 to serve the South Los Angeles area. Managing Partner and Branch Manager, Rick Sasseen has been in the building products distribution industry for over 30 years. Working in various roles including driver, crane operator, inside sales, operations and management, Rick knows the business inside and out. A native Californian, Rick will oversee a team of 15 people at this location with its five trucks and looks forward to opening their doors in September.

Elites’ CEO and Chairman of the Board, Brian Torry says, “We open branches in markets where we find synergies with the right people who have expressed interest in joining the Elite family. Our goal is clear – to be the preeminent independent distributor west of the Mississippi, and our expansion plans are determined by the strong partners who wish to be part of our independent distribution culture.”

“Elite offers a unique value proposition to our customers,” commented Chief Operating Officer, Sarah Weiss. “Each branch’s managing partner has long-lasting relationships in their markets, understands the challenges of the business and is empowered to partner with customers and vendors to create winning scenarios for all involved. This year marks our fifth year in business and with 12 branches open and more to come, we remain committed to our philosophy of being a locally-owned distributor that provides a customized customer experience and a comprehensive line of quality roofing materials.”

For more information, visit www.eliteroofingsupply.com.

MRA Offers New Marketing Toolkit for Metal Roofing Contractors and Installers

The Metal Roofing Alliance (MRA) has unveiled a new digital marketing toolkit for its contractor and installer members to help them promote and grow their residential metal roofing business.

With the popularity of metal roofs increasing among U.S. and Canadian homeowners, the MRA is putting more resources in the hands of contractors and installers to support the growing demand. The new toolkit, available to members at https://www.metalroofing.com/professionals/contractors/ includes table tents, yard signs, literature, infographics, videos and ads. Many of the toolkit assets are customizable and are available in digital formats or as downloads.

“Contractors and installers are top priority when it comes to market adoption and helping homeowners understand the exceptional durability, value and sustainability benefits of metal roofs,” said Renee Ramey, executive director of the Metal Roofing Alliance. “Making sure our trade members have the right tools to communicate and market their metal roofing business is essential to us.”

The Metal Roofing Alliance also offers training, business development resources and a sophisticated lead-gen platform to help support manufacturers, installers and contractors throughout the U.S. and Canada. Earlier this year, the Alliance unveiled its new website designed to not only educate and inspire homeowners, but to highlight the work of its members and help homeowners connect with qualified metal roofing suppliers and contractors in their area.

For those involved with or who support the metal roofing industry in the U.S. or Canada, MRA offers a variety of partnership and membership opportunities. For more information, visit https://www.metalroofing.com/become-member/

For more information, visit www.metalroofing.com.

EDCO Products Inc. Named Minnesota Manufacturer of the Year

EDCO Products, a Minnesota-based industry leading manufacturer of residential and commercial exterior building products, was named the 2018 Minnesota Manufacturer of the Year in the small-company category by the Manufacturers Alliance.

The award recognizes EDCO’s outstanding manufacturing capabilities, as well as, their commitment to sharing expertise within the manufacturing industry through training events and monthly peer meetings with the Manufacturers Alliance, Enterprise Minnesota, and Association for Manufacturing Excellence.

Founded in 1946 by Arthur Edwards Sr. and his two sons, Arthur Jr. and John, EDCO has endeavored to design, manufacture and distribute innovative, durable, affordable residential exterior building products. Today, the company, which is now into third and fourth-generation family ownership, is one of the oldest and largest manufacturers of pre-finished metal products in the United States.

With manufacturing excellence as a founding principle at EDCO, the company has established a reputation as an industry leader with its innovative and award-winning line of siding, roofing, soffit and rainware products, as well as, a complete line of color-coordinated accessories.

“Like many longstanding companies, there was a visionary; someone who was very passionate about an idea and for EDCO, that individual was Art Jr.,” said Eric Lindquist, EDCO’s President and CEO. “For over 70 years, we have made an unrelenting commitment to providing our customers with industry leading innovation, quality and service and that begins with how we manufacture our products. To be recognized by our industry peers for our collaboration and manufacturing excellence is an extreme honor.”

The award was presented to EDCO during a ceremony held on April 12th at the Golden Valley Country Club. The event was followed by an invitation-only “Tour of Excellence” for Manufacturer Alliance members at EDCO’s manufacturing facility in Hopkins, MN.

For more information, visit www.edcoproducts.com.

ARMA’s Newest eBook Provides Guidance for Installing Three-Tab Asphalt Shingles

The Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA) has converted its popular manual, a Good Application Makes A Good Roof Better: A Simplified Guide – Installing Three-Tab Asphalt Shingles For Maximum Life & Weather Protection, into an eBook, making it easier for contractors to access it on the jobsite.

ARMA’s Good Application Guide serves as a resource for roofing professionals installing three-tab asphalt shingles, including for new-roof construction, reroofing/roof replacement and roof recovery projects.

The recently updated guide also includes special procedures for both low and steep-slope roofing systems, proper attic ventilation, ice dam protection, correct nailing methods, roof deck preparation, hip and ridge application, and underlayment, drip edge and flashing installation. As with all technical guidance, installers should also follow manufacturer’s recommended installation instructions. View a preview of the guide by clicking here.

“Three-tab shingles come in a variety of colors, styles and textures, but like with any asphalt roofing system, they have to be properly installed in order to achieve the best performance,” said Tim McQuillen, ARMA’s director of technical services, a 25-year building products industry veteran. “By converting the Good Application Guide: Three-Tab Shingles into an eBook, we can ensure contractors can access expert asphalt roofing installation techniques directly on their smartphone or tablet.”

The Good Application Guide: Three-Tab Shingles is available for $9.95 as a print-on-demand copy or $8.95 as an eBook from the ARMA Bookstore. It is also sold on other prominent digital platforms such as Amazon’s Kindle Store, Kobo, Barnes and Nobles’ Nook, Apple’s iBookstore and the Google Play store. To purchase the guide, visit www.asphaltroofing.org/arma-bookstore.

ARMA also offers several other technical publications for both residential and commercial asphalt roofing applications. They are available for purchase as print-on-demand and eBooks, and include the Good Application Makes a Good Roof Better – A Simplified Guide: Installing Laminated Asphalt Shingles for Maximum Life & Weather Protection, the Modified Bitumen Design Guide for Building Owners, and the Residential Asphalt Roofing Manual – Design and Application Methods.

For more information visit www.asphaltroofing.org

Multifaceted Residential Project Puts Contractor to the Test

Photos: Petersen

Diversification has always been a key component of Paul Graham’s business philosophy. Graham is the president of StazOn Roofing Inc., headquartered in Dallas, Texas. The company has been in business 38 years, handling all types of roofing, custom sheet metal fabrication and specialty wall panel systems.

Graham designed his company to be able to tackle multiple scopes of work on complicated projects. “Through time and through practice on all of these jobs, we’ve just been able to step up to the plate and maintain a multi-level task force to handle different types of work on the job,” he says.

The company’s diverse portfolio has been on display at Craig Ranch, a multi-phase residential development in McKinney, Texas. “It’s a high-end multi-family project,” Graham notes. “The most recent phase of the project involved a few five-story and predominately four-story buildings, all wood-framed. There are pools and courtyards with amenity areas for the residents.”

The buildings featured a blend of different roof systems. Crews from StazOn installed 60,000 square feet of shingles on roofs with a 4:12 pitch, 52,000 square feet of TPO on low-slope areas, and 8,500 square feet of standing seam metal roofing on roofs with an 8:12 pitch. They installed 22,000 square feet of standing seam wall panel cladding. The metal roof and wall panels were custom fabricated by StazOn with PAC-CLAD metal from Petersen in two colors, Zinc and Weathered Steel.

The company also fabricated and installed trim, flashing, gutters, collector boxes and rectangular downspouts. “We have our own sheet metal shop, so we can manufacture any type of architectural sheet metal product for our own jobs,” Graham says. “We also provided the builder with a proprietary door pocket at each of the door locations.”

Up on the Roof

The roofing work came first. On the large multi-family buildings, GAF EverGuard 60-mil white TPO was applied on the low-slope sections, which house the mechanical units and serve as a design feature on the project. “These were on the

Craig Ranch is a multi-phase residential community in McKinney, Texas. Condominiums and town homes feature shingles and standing seam metal roofs. The metal wall panels are a distinctive focus of the design. Photos: Petersen

perimeter of the buildings, primarily,” Graham explains. “The architect likes to showcase the walls, so to create that effect, they design a flat roof adjoining the pitched roof sections.”

GAF Timberline Dimensional Shingles in Weathered Wood were installed on the steeper sections of the large multi-family buildings. “These roofs had long, big runs,” Graham notes. “It was kind of like a roofer’s dream if you will, to shingle up there with nothing in the way. It was pretty wide open.”

Metal roofs were installed on a section of town homes. Where the intersecting roof sections formed valleys, crickets were installed to provide adequate drainage. These cricket sections were covered with TPO, and the details where the TPO roof and metal roof came together were crucial. “We terminated the TPO at the sloped roof with a receiver flashing that we heat welded to the TPO,” says Graham. “We take it one step further with that application, so we have a complete watertight transition from the TPO to the bottom of where the metal panel starts.”

The crickets divert water to the exterior, where it drains through the custom-made collector boxes. “The downspouts in those locations are oversized four-by-six downspouts fabricated at our shop from the Petersen material,” Graham notes. “Along with the other sheet metal items, we did the coping, the pre-flashing and flashing, the edge trim, and miscellaneous other vertical and horizontal expansion details.”

On the Walls

After waterproofing inspection of the exterior facade was completed, crews first applied a peel-and-stick building wrap from Grace, Vycor enV-S. “We took field measurements and we custom made all of the trim out of the four-by-eight sheets that Petersen supplied for the job,” Graham explains. “We make all of the trim to fit the windows, doors, penetrations, the steel support beams, which all get pre-flashed and clad.”

The metal roof and wall panels were custom fabricated with 24-gauge aluminum supplied by Petersen. Photos: Petersen

The 16-inch-wide wall panels were fabricated on the site. “We keep the panels protected until the guys are ready to install them,” Graham says. “We have everything we need right there on hand so we can keep up with the needs of the job as it is evolving.”

Panels are installed using a man lift. “From a safety standpoint and a production standpoint, it made sense to use the man lifts,” says Graham. “It’s the most maneuverable way to do the installation. We work in synchronization, moving three or four lifts at a time along the side of these walls as we work our way around the project.”

One unexpected challenge was a section of the leasing office that did not line up perfectly. “The builder came to us and asked if we could build the wall out and make sure all of the wall panels on the facade would be flush once the building was completed,” notes Graham. “We made some custom 16-gauge steel hat channels and Z-members and installed them as structural members to the wall. Then we installed the panels over the steel framing, so that we would have that same elevation and same build-out across the front of the building.”

Coordinated Attack

Phase III of the project was just completed, and Phase IV is now underway. Graham points to a few keys to navigating complicated projects like these. “It usually is a tight schedule, so coordinating with the builder to keep everything on schedule is the key,” says Graham. “You have to fabricate the necessary components and deliver them to the job in a timely fashion to keep the crews on target.”

Crews from StazOn Roofing installed the roof systems and wall panels, as well as custom-made trim, flashing, gutters, and downspouts. Photos: Petersen

Maintaining the consistency and quality of the details is also important, and experience helps. “We know what works best for the long haul,” he says. “At the end of the day, you want those details to line up with what the architect had as his vision, but we will make recommendations if we think there is a better way to construct a detail for specific conditions.”

The wall panels on this project were a top priority. “The specialty wall panel systems are so architecturally significant,” he says. “We kind of live and breathe them. We understand them. We’ve come across many, many challenges along the way on other jobs, so when we run into a new challenge, we just roll up our sleeves, get it figured out, design it with all of the people involved, and get going with it.”

Graham credits the Dallas-based builder and the Dallas-based architecture firm, JHP, for spearheading the successful project. “It’s nice when you have a team you’ve worked with and everyone understands what needs to be done to satisfy the client’s desires,” he says.

TEAM

Architect: JHP, Dallas, Texas, www.jhparch.com
Roofing Contractor: StazOn Roofing Inc., Dallas, Texas, www.stazonroof.com

MATERIALS

TPO: EverGuard 60-mil white TPO, GAF, www.GAF.com
Asphalt Laminate Shingles: Timberline Dimensional Shingle in Weathered Wood, GAF
Metal Roof and Wall Panels: PAC-CLAD 24-gauge aluminum in Zinc and Weathered Steel, Petersen, www.Pac-Clad.com
Building Wrap: Vycor enV-S, Grace, www.gcpat.com

Ventco Announces Winner of a Pallet of ProfileVent at Frame Building Expo

Ervin Yoder of Ridge & Valley Metals of Dover, Del., was selected randomly as the winner of a pallet of ProfileVent from Ventco.

Yoder was one of hundreds to sign up for the drawing at the Vento booth at the recent Frame Building Expo in Columbus, Ohio. “The drawing and our products attracted plenty of attention,” says Marty Rotter, owner of Ventco. “It was another great Frame Building Expo and we were happy to be a part of it. We’re guessing Ervin Yoder was happy he showed up, too!”

ProfileVent is a ventilation system for commercial and residential metal roofs and is a single-layer ridge vent on a roll. It’s a strong, durable modified polyester, non-woven, non-wicking fiber-based matting, designed specifically for metal roofs and cut to fit 47 metal roofing profiles.

For more information, visit www.profilevent.com

Zinc Tiles Make Roof the Focal Point of Historic Residential Renovation

Originally built in 1853, this historic residence was recently renovated. The 1,870-square-foot cottage was designed to offer a highly contemporary flair while retaining many of its historic elements. Photos: RHEINZINK

Prior to its near-total reconstruction, the Jett Residence was an overgrown structure hidden in a grove of trees in Iowa City, Iowa. The strikingly renovated cottage now serves as a retreat house for its owners. Originally built in 1853, the residence retains a significant portion of the original, locally made red brick. An original, vaulted stone root cellar — rumored to have been part of the Underground Railroad — also remains on the property.

The owners were deeply involved in working with Neumann Monson Architects, Iowa City, in planning the renovation, according to co-owner Bobby Jett. The interior design of the 1,870-square-foot cottage offers a highly contemporary flair within the historic setting.

The most prominent feature of the exterior is the roof. “Everyone loves the roof,” Jett says. “They’ve never seen anything like it.” Approximately 2,500 square feet of RHEINZINK Square Tiles were utilized. The 0.8mm prePATINA blue-grey Square Tiles were installed in a diamond pattern.

The selection of the tiles was inspired by an old black and white photo of the house taken more half a century ago. “At that time, the roof of the house had diamond-shaped shingles. We wanted to replicate that look,” notes Jett. “The architect suggested that RHEINZINK could provide the look and durability we wanted.”

“We definitely wanted to replicate the roof’s visual pattern that we saw in the old photo but obviously wanted it to have more permanence and durability,” says Tim Schroeder, vice president at Neumann Monson Architects. “We’ve worked with zinc before and thought it would be a good complement to the dormers that would provide a nice crisp appearance. The RHEINZINK was definitely a nod to the historic element but provided a progressive look as well.”

Fabrication of the Square Tiles was done by RHEINZINK systems partner Sheet Metal Supply (SMS), headquartered in Mundelein, Illinois.

The restored roof is comprised of approximately 2,500 square feet of RHEINZINK Square Tiles, which were installed in a diamond pattern. Photos: RHEINZINK

Installation of the RHEINZINK Square Tiles was performed by Natural Metal Associates, Mont Vernon, New Hampshire. The owner of Natural Metal Associates, Lou Rondeau, has extensive hands-on experience with zinc fabrication methods and techniques. “I knew this was a unique project and I really wanted to be a part of it,” Rondeau notes. Rondeau was accompanied by an apprentice and personally did the hand-cutting and folding associated with detailing the valleys and edges. The work also included installation of the RHEINZINK half-round 5 ½-inch gutter system.

The installation was completed in nine days, according to Rondeau. “Zinc is a premium material that’s a real pleasure to work with,” he says.

TEAM

Architect: Neumann Monson Architects, Iowa City, Iowa, www.neumannmonson.com
Metal Fabricator: Sheet Metal Supply (SMS), Mundelein, Illinois, www.sheetmetalsupplyltd.com
Metal Roof Manufacturer: RHEINZINK, Woburn, Massachusetts, www.rheinzink.us
Roofing Contractor: Natural Metal Associates, Mont Vernon, New Hampshire, www.facebook.com/Natural-Metals-Associates-228362561021655/

Research Centers Provide Valuable Information About Roof Performance

The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety Research Center evaluates construction materials and systems in its state-of-the-art testing laboratories. Photos: Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety.

Until early October of this past year, Chester County, South Carolina, was home to a small, single-story house, similar to thousands of houses across the United States, but unique in almost every way.

What made this small structure one of a kind? The house sat inside the large test chamber at the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS) Research Center, dwarfed by the six-story chamber’s cavernous interior. The house was built, in fact, to be destroyed.

On Oct. 5, the staff of the IBHS Research Center focused the test chamber’s intense destructive wind power, generated by 105 super-sized fans, on the small structure. Prior to the test, the center had digitized the wind record of an actual storm, and the wind speeds produced by the fans were varied accordingly. In the case of the simulated storm in early October, wind speeds were increased in three phases, up to 120 miles an hour. The house experienced significant damage to its walls and interior, and the garage door was ripped off. But the roof, built to IBHS’ recommended standards, held firm.

The IBHS research facility, which opened in 2010 and is funded by property insurers, evaluates various residential and commercial construction materials and systems. The lab is the only lab in the world that can unleash the power of highly realistic windstorms, wind-driven rain, hailstorms and wildfire ember storms on full-scale one- and two-story residential and commercial buildings in a controlled, repeatable fashion.

The mission of IBHS is to reduce the social and economic effects of natural disasters. And much of its research, like its attack on this small house last October, has focused, at least in part, on the resilience of roofs. As IBHS President and CEO Julie Rochman has noted, “The roof is your first line of defense against anything Mother Nature inflicts … and during a bad storm your roof endures fierce pressure from wind, rain, and flying debris.”

Educating the Industry

In May of 2017, the EPDM Roofing Association (ERA) launched a microsite to help educate the construction industry about the increasing need for resilience in the built environment, and the contributions that EPDM roofing membrane can make to a

IBHS conducts hail research in the Laboratory Building for Small Tests, where hailstones of various sizes are recreated and propelled against roof samples. Photos: Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety.

resilient system. That effort came in response to the increasing number of extreme weather events. Since last May when ERA first launched its resilience microsite, the pattern of extreme weather has continued unabated, in the form of wildfires throughout the west which were exacerbated by extreme heat, and Hurricanes Harvey and Irma which left devastating floods and wind damage in their wake.

For more than a decade, ERA leadership has supported research about factors that contribute to the resilience of EPDM as a membrane, and how it best functions in various roofing systems. More recently, ERA has invested in site-visits to leading research organizations that generate science-based data about resiliency in building systems, first to Oak Ridge National Laboratories, near Knoxville, Tennessee, and then to the National Research Energy Laboratories (NREL) in Golden, Colorado. Given the complementary goals of ERA and IBHS to help support the creation of truly resilient buildings, ERA leadership welcomed the opportunity to visit the South Carolina research facility.

Analyzing Hail Damage

The hail research at IBHS was of special interest to ERA, given ERA’s research that has consistently shown that EPDM membrane offers exceptionally strong resistance against hail damage. Based on field and test data sponsored by ERA, EPDM roof membranes outperform other roof systems in terms of hail protection. In 2007, ERA conducted tests which showed that EPDM roofing membranes did not suffer membrane damage and avoided leaking problems endemic to other roofing surfaces in similar circumstances. Of the 81 targets installed for that research over different surfaces, 76 did not fail when impacted with hail ice balls up to three inches in diameter. Perhaps most importantly, the impact resistance of both field-aged and heat-aged membranes in this test also clearly demonstrated that EPDM retains the bulk of its impact resistance as it ages.

The IBHS Research Center’s super-sized fans can recreate winds to measure their effects on full-scale one- and two-story residential and commercial buildings. Photos: Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety.

Using this ERA-generated research as a starting point, ERA leadership travelled to IBHS with specific questions in mind, including: What has IBHS research revealed about the impact of hail on various types of roofing membranes and systems? Does the IBHS research reinforce or contradict ERA’s findings? What are the next questions to be asked about the damage that hail can do, and are resilient systems cost-effective?

Hail research at IBHS is conducted in the Laboratory Building for Small Tests, a compact structure with equipment appropriate to replicate large hailstones and hurl them at roof samples. As part of its research, IBHS has worked with the National Weather Service to assess the geographic locations threatened by hail. Individual storms have long been recognized as creating widespread and expensive destruction, but is hail a threat that is confined to just a few specific geographic areas of the country?

In fact, more than 75 percent of the cities in the United States experience at least one hailstorm a year, and the risk extends across the country to all areas east of the Rockies. Annually, hail losses reach more than 1 billion dollars. The IBHS has identified the factors that contribute to the extent of hailstorm damage, with the impact resistance of roofing materials being one of the most critical factors, along with hailstone size, density and hardness. Likewise, the roof is one of the components most vulnerable to hail. Analysis of property damage resulting from a hailstorm in Dallas-Fort Worth in 2011 found that roof losses accounted for 75 percent of property damage in the area, and more than 90 percent of damage payouts.

In their efforts to replicate the true nature of hail, the staff at IBHS has conducted extensive fieldwork, and travelled widely around the United States to gather actual hailstones immediately after a storm. Over the last five years, the IBHS hail team has collected more than 3,500 hailstones, focusing on their dimensions, mass and compressive stress. The stones range from .04 inches in diameter to well over four inches. In addition, IBHS has conducted three-D scans of more than one hundred stones to further educate themselves about the true nature of hailstones, and how they contribute to the overall damage inflicted by hailstorms.

The research findings of IBHS reinforce or complement those of ERA. IBHS has found that unsupported roofing materials perform poorly and ballasted low-slope roofs perform especially well in hailstorms because they disperse energy. IBHS recommends that builders use systems that have impact resistance approval, including their own fortified standard. While IBHS found that newer roofing membranes perform better than older membranes, ERA studies found that new, heat-aged and field-aged EPDM membranes all offered a high degree of hail resistance, demonstrating that EPDM retains the bulk of its impact resistance as it ages.

Both organizations stress that resilient roofing systems in new and retrofitted construction can make good financial sense. According to Julie Rochman of IBHS, “We are really going to continue focusing on moving our culture from one that is focused on post-disaster response and recovery to pre-disaster investment and loss-mitigation … we’re going to be very focused on getting the roofs right in this country.”

For the members of ERA, “getting the roof right” has long been a dominant focus of their businesses. Now, in the face of increasingly frequent and extreme weather events, getting the roof right means gathering up-to-the-minute research about resilient systems, and putting that research to work to create resilient roofs.

Steep-Slope Projects: Risks, Considerations and Best Practices for Contractors

Photos: Atlas Roofing

Photos: Atlas Roofing

Many contractors treat residential roofing as routine. However, whether a re-roof or new construction, each project can be infinitely complex and should be addressed as such by always accounting for weather and safety issues, as well as proper installation and customer service.

One of the most prominent and popular elements of residential architecture is a steep-slope roof. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), steep-slope roofs have slopes greater than 4:12 and range from 18.5 degrees to 45 degrees or more. While the process of installing a roof with these angles isn’t necessarily much different from a low-slope roof, it can pose more risks and considerations for workers.

Weather Woes

Weather plays an important role in every roofing project, but staying on top of potential issues from Mother Nature is especially crucial during steep-slope jobs.

Photos: Atlas Roofing

Photos: Atlas Roofing

In high temperatures, workers may fall victim to heat cramps, heat exhaustion, heatstroke or worse. The best way to beat the heat is to start early and get as much done as possible before the temperature peaks. Starting early in the summer—specifically in the South—can allow work to be completed before daily rain showers roll in. Proper hydration and attire are also important.

Cold temperatures can create even more complications because some manufacturers advise against installing their products in weather below 45 degrees Fahrenheit and certain equipment is susceptible to freezing. Furthermore, workers have to pay extra attention to the grip of their shoes to avoid slipping and falling. Not to mention, freezing-cold hands and feet may cause an otherwise adept worker to become clumsy. Wearing the proper clothing is key during cold-weather jobs, and workers should be advised to keep an eye out for the first signs of frostbite, including cold skin, redness, tingling and numbness.

Safety Considerations

In 2015, falls were the leading cause of private-sector work deaths in the construction industry, accounting for nearly 40 percent of worker fatalities, according to OSHA. In addition, OSHA reports nearly 90 percent of fatal falls happen due to the lack of a fall-protection system.

Photos: Atlas Roofing

Photos: Atlas Roofing

When working on a roof slope greater than 4/12, OSHA requires additional safety measures, which include either a guardrail system with toeboards, safety net systems or personal fall arrest systems. Yet, many contractors—especially residential roofers—choose to forgo protective devices because they feel they are not feasible or create a greater hazard. In such cases, OSHA does allow the use of alternative fall-protection methods in residential construction, as long as contractors develop a written, job-specific fall-protection plan that complies with OSHA regulations.

Proper Installation

During the installation process, roofers should keep a few things in mind whether they’re applying shingles to a steep-slope or low-slope structure.

  • Valleys
Photos: Atlas Roofing

Photos: Atlas Roofing

Valleys are a critical part of proper roof installation because they experience the most water flow during rainstorms and can be potential leak points.

In an open valley, a piece of aluminum, copper or other type of metal is used to help keep rainwater flowing off the roof. Open valleys are often used when a homeowner wants a showier look, such as on a Colonial-style home.

Closed valleys—the most common valley installation method—use asphalt shingles and offer a more traditional look. When properly installed, they keep water from getting trapped in the valley and allow for proper drainage.

In addition to open and closed valleys, contractors also have the option to create a weave valley, which alternates shingles through the valley from both sides, creating a braid-like effect.

Laminate/architectural shingles should not be used for weave valleys. Because laminate shingles aren’t one-dimensional, they do not create the flat surface needed for a weave valley, which should only be used with three-tab shingles.

When using laminate shingles, be sure to follow instructions on the wrapper for either an open or closed application.

Contractors also need to be extremely careful around obstacles such as chimneys and skylights, which require their own flashing and water divergence methods. For instance, more flashing may be needed in these areas to divert water and prevent leaks.

  • Starter Shingles

Starter shingles allow the first course of shingles to properly seal down, protecting the edge of the roof and providing anchoring power for high-wind resistance at the critical eave and rake areas. They further protect the roof by filling in spaces under the cutouts and edges for the first course of exposed shingles, preventing wind uplift.

Photos: Atlas Roofing

Photos: Atlas Roofing

The most common mistake when installing starter shingles or modifying traditional three-tab shingles is putting them on backward or upside-down.

Additionally, the overhang should be no more than three-quarters of an inch to prevent wind from penetrating beneath shingles, as well as to keep shingles from curling or cracking.

In addition, many manufacturers caution against double-stacking pallets of starter shingles, which can cause the bottom shingles to warp. Be sure to read all storage and handling instructions prior to installation.

  • Underlayment

Underlayment is an important part of the roofing process and is required by code for residential properties to meet Class A fire requirements. Serving as a secondary barrier, underlayment protects rakes, eaves and critical flashings from water infiltration. Most warranties also require underlayment for the roof to be ASTM compliant. However, some contractors still opt not to use it because they want to save time on a project or their customer balks at the cost.

Photos: Atlas Roofing

Photos: Atlas Roofing

Another frequent error during underlayment installation is incorrect overlaps. On low-slope roofs (slopes between 2:12 and 4:12), underlayment should have double coverage. And while traditional installation is fine on steep-slope roofs, always follow manufacturer instructions for overlaps from course to course.

Last but not least, be sure to keep underlayment from wrinkling, which can cause ripples in the shingles. While trying to keep underlayment as flat as possible, avoid pulling it too tight because it has a natural expansion and contraction. If underlayment gets wet, be sure it adequately dries out before continuing the installation process.

  • Shingles and Nails

Shingles should be installed with the manufacturer’s recommended offset, which will help prevent leak points and also properly align the shingles across the roof. Once all of the shingles are aligned, only the shingles themselves should be exposed—not the nails.

Because the common bond area is the strongest part of a shingle, manufacturers require nails be placed there to achieve the advertised wind performance. Nails should not be too high or too low, or unevenly spaced. If nails aren’t positioned correctly, the manufacturer’s wind warranty may not be valid.

Customer Service Follow-Up

Providing excellent customer service is key to every roofing job. Homeowners who have a good experience are more likely to share positive reviews and opinions.

Photos: Atlas Roofing

Photos: Atlas Roofing

Before starting a steep-slope project, be sure to discuss the entire process with homeowners to ensure that they know what to expect, as well as the types of warranties they will receive with their new roof. In addition, prepare the surrounding property, such as windows and landscaping, to prevent damage during the installation process.

During the job, be sure workers are vigilant about not dropping nails anywhere on the jobsite. After the job, walk the property with the homeowners to ensure all debris and materials were cleaned up; magnets can be used to double-check for stray nails. If the homeowners are happy with the finished product and their experience, don’t be afraid to ask them to write a nice review on the company website, Angie’s List, Yelp or other customer referral app.

Most of the best practices for steep-slope roofing can be applied to any type of roofing project. However, steep-slope work can pose additional challenges that other projects may not. Always follow manufacturer’s instructions and OSHA guidelines on all roofing jobs, but especially on steep-slope projects, when one minor slip could turn into major consequences for all involved.

About the Author: Paul Casseri is the product manager of the Roofing Shingles and Underlayment Division for Atlas Roofing Corp., www.atlasroofing.com. He is responsible for all areas of product management, including product initiation, feasibility, design, development and testing. He is a graduate of Penn State University with more than 20 years of experience in the building products industry.