Roofing: The Benefits of Record-Keeping

Sept. 5, 2007
It's important to keep accurate roofing files

In recent Roofing News e-newsletters, we have been following (and receiving updates to) the U.S. Corps of Engineers’ Commentary on Roofing Systems. This issue will focus on aspects of control, especially keeping accurate roofing files.

What and Why?
When something goes wrong with your roof, records are handy because:

  • The roof may still be covered by warranty and, if so, you should know how and whom to formally notify.
  • You will know who the original designer and roofing contractor were.
  • There may be notations regarding exceptions to specifications, which could explain apparent defects.
  • If litigation is possible, you will need the documentation.

Owners of multiple properties can mine the data to determine which roof systems are performing best for them. Life-cycle analysis will be realistic since it is based upon your own properties, not on promotional or theoretical aspects. Analysis should lead to rational selection of future roofing projects and the remedial steps that are paying off. Perhaps the major benefits are in the economics, so that replacement costs can be incorporated into a long-range capital improvement program as part of your budget process.

Suggestions for documents that may be useful include:

On new construction projects, some building owners require a moisture survey at the time of roof completion. This verifies that the roof has been installed dry (wet insulation detected after the survey could be due to construction traffic by other trades and would be the responsibility of the general contractor).

Other items that should be placed in the roofing file include a roof plan; the location of any hidden conduit; drawings and specifications (as built); copies of labels on roofing materials, including UL, FM, ASTM, or ANSI designations; and trade names of materials (if not imprinted on membrane and flashings).

Consideration should be given to emergency procedures, such as the storage of patching materials and training of key maintenance personnel. If the roof will be subjected to routine traffic in order to service rooftop units, protective walkways may be needed. Establish a protocol so that, if these trades damage the roof, it will be reported and attended to by the end of the workday.

Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association
The Institute of Roofing, Waterproofing, & Building Envelope Professionals
Metal Building Manufacturers Association
National Research Council of Canada’s Institute for Research in Construction
National Roofing Contractors Association
Single Ply Roofing Industry
Spray Polyurethane Foam Alliance
Unified Facilities Criteria: Commentary on Roofing Systems

About the Author

Richard L. Fricklas

Richard (Dick) L. Fricklas received a Lifetime Achievement Award and fellowship from RCI in 2014 in recognition of his contributions to educating three generations of roofing professionals. A researcher, author, journalist, and educator, Fricklas retired as technical director emeritus of the Roofing Industry Educational Institute in 1996. He is co-author of The Manual of Low Slope Roofing Systems (now in its fourth edition) and taught roofing seminars at the University of Wisconsin, in addition to helping develop RCI curricula. His honors include the Outstanding Educator Award from RCI, William C. Cullen Award and Walter C. Voss Award from ASTM, the J. A. Piper Award from NRCA, and the James Q. McCawley Award from the MRCA. Dick holds honorary memberships in both ASTM and RCI Inc.

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