Many building owners and facility managers hire a roof consultant when there is a problem with their roof. The consultant comes to the site and applies a variety of forensic techniques to determine the root cause of the problem, which in many cases turns out to be design issues, value engineering or installation problems. To avoid these problems, it makes more sense to hire the roof consultant before the roof is installed. That way, the consultant can help write or review a specification, ensure that standards and application techniques are met and perform daily inspections during installation.
Hiring a roofing consultant provides these important advantages:
1. Cost Savings - Hiring a roof consultant during a problem is expensive because of the amount of work required to determine the cause. Forensic analysis includes infrared scanning, moisture metering, test cuts, uplift pressurization analysis, humidity readings, wall destruction, metal edge destruction, roof deck analysis and material testing. It’s important to note that these costs do not include building occupant frustration, downtime, lost opportunity costs, reduced lease rates and facility management time. When you consider all of the real costs included in a final analysis, it becomes clear that hiring a roof consultant at the beginning of construction to review the specification and monitor the installation is money well spent.
2. Design Support - The design issue of value engineering does not always turn into a problem. However, when value engineering is suggested, building owners should consider hiring a roof consultant to review the new design and monitor the installation. Roof consultants can advise owners and managers of potential flaws associated with a given roof design. Value engineering saves money, but often does so at the expense of long-term system performance. Roof consultants, on the other hand, can help save money by suggesting alternatives that do not jeopardize the owner’s goals for the building. Roof consultants are adept at working with all available materials in the roofing industry. They have experience knowing what designs work in various climates based on roof color. For example, consultants understand the importance of vapor barriers when installing a white mechanically fastened roof in central and northern climates to avoid potential condensation issues. Energy saving goals can be achieved with a black roof in heating dominated climates or a white or ballasted roof in cooling dominated climates.
3. Strategic Partnerships - Consultants are involved with organizations such as RCI, Inc., an international association of professional consultants, architects and engineers who specialize in roofing, waterproofing and exterior wall systems. They provide knowledge-based testing and certifications for a variety of building consultant disciplines, including Registered Roof Observers (RRO), Registered Roof Consultants (RRC), Registered Waterproofing Consultants (RWRC) and other building certification disciplines. The Sustainable Roofing and Waterproofing Alliance (SRWA) is an affiliate group that collaborates with roofing and waterproofing consultants to provide education, design concepts, forensic equipment and a practical view of sustainability.
Building owners can benefit by receiving money back from their manufacturer’s roof warranty fees by hiring approved roof consultants to monitor their roof installations. Of note, architects are hiring roof consultants at an increasing rate to assist with roof design. This practice should continue and is championed by many roofing industry members. Roofing manufacturers can also recommend roof consultants. Prior to choosing a roof consultant, interview several consultants to make sure they align with a building owner’s goals. Roof consultants have varying levels of interest and expertise; some focus on testing, while others focus on forensics and lawsuits. However, most focus on effective design by building type, specification writing, installation oversight and meeting the goals of a building owner.
In the end, hiring a consultant for design assistance, roofing and building structure advice or proper installation, can provide a building owner a return on his/her investment, while meeting sustainable design standards and ensuring durable roofing assemblies that offer a long-term service life.
Janial Mack is Strategic Account Segment Manager for Carlisle Construction Materials. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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