All you need to replace your old roof is a new roof, right?
Well, not really – roof replacement is not as straightforward as it appears. For instance, a contractor was recently hired by an affluent condo board to undertake a million-dollar roof replacement project. It involved replacing multiple roofs with an exquisite liquid-membrane roofing system. The project was scheduled to begin in the fall (at the owner’s insistence), which is not something we’d recommend due to the inclement weather that characterizes the fall.
Even worse, there were some commercial and medical units in the same building. As a result, the contractor had to work under strict conditions to reduce noise and vibration levels – a factor that limited the scope of work. Of course, this was to be expected, but soon, more problems occurred…
What Kind of Problems Were Encountered?
The new roofing system is usually very sensitive, and doesn’t bode well with any moisture beneath it. Unfortunately, after the existing roofing was removed, there was some moisture trapped on the roof deck, which the workmen didn’t have time to remove as they had to meet the (unreasonable) schedule.
Now, if the project occurred in the summer, the heat would evaporate all the trapped moisture within a few hours. In fall, the air is full of dew, precipitation or in some cases, ice, which instead of evaporating the moisture under the roof, it adds to it.
How Did the Schedule Complicate Things?
As mentioned earlier, the contractor and the workmen not only had to deal with the noise complaints, but unforgiving weather conditions as well. This made it hard to get work done for 3 or 4 days straight.
A few weeks later, one of the installed roofs started showing some small blisters, which on being cut open, revealed trapped moisture. This was also observed in another roof. Questions arose about the source of this moisture – was it due to poor workmanship or had it leaked from the surrounding walls? A thorough investigation was thereby commissioned.
What Role Did You Play in The Investigation?
We are tasked with conducting weekly inspections to identify any problems. In this case, we set out to find the exact causes of the roof blisters. Probes and water tests indicated the surrounding walls weren’t responsible for the moisture. This left us with workmanship as the near-certain cause. We held talks with the contractor, and he agreed to cover the testing expenses, if he was at fault.
Eventually, the contractor had to replace the two problematic roots, from his pocket. The project timeline, however, had to be pushed back for another 6 months till spring as work couldn’t continue during the winter.
Lessons for Condo Boards
One thing that condo boards should take from this case study is that roofing projects are better scheduled for the spring.
Additionally, having a property management firm hire an expert to regularly inspect the work done is key to the success of the project. Roof replacements are very expensive, and everything should be done to ensure that the roofing system installed will last for a couple of decades.