We are often asked if a building can have a rooftop deck added. These areas are a nice addition to a building and provide a place to view the fireworks, socialize and relax. Many things must be considered when planning the new outdoor space. Typically, roof structures are designed to support snow loads and the weight of the roof covering, which are much less than the “person” load required by Code for a deck. So, often the deck needs to span from structural support to support, such as between bearing walls or columns. Other design considerations to take into account besides deck material options are providing a means to make future roof repairs or replacement under the deck, stair access to the deck and railing systems. Also, some jurisdictions require that the deck be constructed of non-combustible materials.
There are a number of tools available to help evaluate and correct building problems, particularly those related to moisture intrusion. Infrared scans are frequently used for checking roofs and exterior building walls This same technology is used to check for hot and cold spots in walls, electrical equipment, etc.
A side use of infrared cameras has been to survey interior finished surfaces for possible “hidden” water intrusion. Sometimes, these cameras can detect moisture in ceilings or walls even before there are visible signs of moisture or drywall damage on inside surfaces.
In order to get your next roofing project off to a good start, be it minor repair or total replacement, the following is a list of items to discuss with your contractor to help ensure both parties are on the same page prior to starting the work. Reviewing some of these key items prior to job start-up will help both parties understand what is expected and hopefully make the job go a little smoother.
1. Review scope of work with the contrator to make sure everyone undertands what work will take palce. Ask if posible change order items are anticipated and what the unit costs may be for additional work.
2. Understand what the contractor’s anticipated start and completion dates are for the entire job. Knowing the working hours and if weekend work will be allowed is also important
3. Identify storage, parking and work areas. Make sure the contractor understands his responsibility for keeping the areas clean and maintaining the security of his equipment and materials.
4. Make sure the contact person in the field as well, as the responsible person in the office, is identified in case problems arise. Have a list of all emergency numbers of key personnel prior to starting work.
5. Clairify whether the contractor will utilize certain facilities (such s water, electricity and/or restrooms) while working on the job.
6. Bonds, insurance certificates, building permits or any technical submittals should be obtained prior to starting work. The Contractor should be responsible for securing any state or local permits or insepctions.
7. Inspect property and document any existing damage prior to starting work to help protect all parties.
8. Understand who is responsible for connection or disconnection of mechanical systems.
9. Find out what warranties will be given from the contractor and/or manufacturer.
There is currently a significant controversy in the roofing industry regarding the proper design methods for resisting wind uplift for vegetative roof systems. It seems that the various organizations looking at this matter cannot come up with a standard that everyone can agree is technically correct and sound. Hopefully, continued discussions will end with an agreement but right now there is a wide difference of opinion regarding the approach and even the appropriate conclusions that can be made from various testing programs and data related to this issue.
If you have or are considering the installation of a vegetative roof, get good technical guidance and advise!