Many building owners and facilities managers feel like heirs to a mixed estate. They have inherited a building and its problems, and may lack adequate information about the building to make rational decisions.
Doing better this time around
Several previous columns in this series discussed figuring out what's on the roof and what condition it is in.
This column will focus on leaving a legacy for the next generation. We will consider a major reroofing project, so large in scope that a professional roof consultant has been engaged to analyze the roof situation and to recommend a new roof system. As part of our legacy, we intend to establish comprehensive roofing files for each project our firm undertakes. These will be available anytime we need to change or modify the new roof system. We definitely will include warranties, plans, and specifications, and hopefully as-built construction details. One more thing is needed: minutes of pre-bid, preliminary, and pre-construction conferences.
The roofing industry not only recommends conferences, they recommend several:
Pre-bid Conference—In a reroofing situation where we are removing roof-top equipment and there's a good likelihood of discovering hidden defects, it is a good idea to offer a pre-bid walkover of the roof. Prospective bidders (hopefully from a list that you have pre-qualified) are invited to walk the roof, examining rooftop equipment, drainage, access, flashings, etc. The contractors may suggest roof cuts and fixes that the roof consultant has not previously considered. Hopefully, this walkover and following conference is conducted in a spirit of cooperation, as the bid documents will include all agreed upon changes, so that all contractors are bidding for the same scope of work. This is a far better way to go than to just put out the consultant's specification for bid, and having the successful low bidder then request dozens of change orders to 'fix' problems. Minutes of this conference can be useful later on, should problems arise relating to the bidding, specification, or award process.
The preliminary job conference—The specifications have been finalized, the bid has been awarded, and we are now ready to plan the logistics of the project. At this preliminary conference, we should not only invite the roofing contractor, but any other contractors that may be involved in the project. This might include a general contractor, mechanical and sheet-metal contractors, masonry, contractors, and representatives of the materials manufacturers, and anyone else that might impact on the roofing project. A representative of your insurer is also a good idea, to address safety concerns during work, as well as compliance with loss prevention data sheets, etc.
Agenda for preliminary conference (The following list is far from all-encompassing):
•Tentative job schedule—When will the contractor show up?
Will noise levels require tear-off prior to normal occupancy hours? Will we have to shut-down the occupied areas beneath demolition or deck rehabilitation work?
•Where will we store construction materials? How will demolition debris be removed?
•Are there restrictions on access to the site? Are there times when traffic will impact construction vehicles?
•How will we address fumes from asphalt kettles and from roof torches? How do we keep solvent fumes from adhesives away from air-intakes?
•Can we avoid having other trades use the newly completed roof areas as a work platform?
•Do the project specifications, construction details, and materials comply with code and insurance requirements? Will the manufacturer's representative have to place a special order on the factory for certifications or UL labels? Are submittals required? Who will review and accept them?
•Quality Assurance—Does the roof consultant plan to have full-time inspection? (Highly recommended). Is the inspector qualified to inspect the system being installed? In the case of single ply systems, it is strongly recommended that the manufacturer provide a qualified technician to train both the crew and the field inspector at the same time during project startup.
All these conversation points are included in the minutes of the meeting, which is circulated to all attendees. A corrected set is published after all attendees have signed off.
The preconstruction conference—this conference should be scheduled just before the actual roofing work begins.
Two key personnel need to be present: The field QA inspector and the roofing contractor's job foreman. It should be understood that the contractor does not have permission to substitute another foreman or superintendent, since this person is the one that heard exactly what was agreed to.
The first agenda item should be a review of the minutes of the preliminary conference. Homework assignments completed? Submittals received and accepted? Safety considerations understood?
Write up the minutes and again circulate for a consensus. These also go in the roofing file, for posterity! (They will be handy if problems show up later).
Project wrap-up—Hopefully all went well. The roof consultant should review 'punch-lists', and ascertain that they are completed. Warranties should be received, and retentions released. The manufacturer and consultant may wish to educate you on your obligations as well as your rights under the warranty. If you must do renovation work on the roof, the manufacturer must be notified under the terms of the warranty. Work normally must be performed by an 'approved' contractor, using materials and details acceptable to the warranty issuer. We suggest that permanent signs be affixed at ground level as well as up on the roof, stating the roofing contractor’s name and phone number, the type of roof system installed, warranty expiration date. Signs should also state whether permissions must be obtained from physical plant management before accessing the roof or doing on-roof activities that might affect roof performance.
Conferences are all about communications. Typically, all involved want to do a good job, but each has a somewhat different perspective of the work. The roofing conferences provide the mechanism for team-building, the key to a successful roofing project. And the meeting minutes remind all of what was agreed upon, not what we thought we said some years ago.