If you’re not paying attention to the way people access your roof, you might find that problems with your rooftop safety culture can develop quickly. Left unchecked, people could start to use your roof as an informal meeting site or a place to take lunch breaks or cigarette breaks. Unbeknownst to the people casually using your roof, however, these individuals are putting both the roof and themselves in danger.
If treated correctly, your roof could last anywhere from twenty to fifty years. Simply lasting is not a measure of roofing success, however—instead, you’ll want to look at lifetime costs. Picking the right commercial roofing materials up front, treating them properly, and investing in the correct infrastructure and maintenance programs will make your roof more efficient and more likely to last its full lifetime without incurring significant costs.
Back in 2017, OSHA released new guidelines designed to improve safety for 112 million American workers—with a special emphasis for those who work on rooftops. Where OSHA did not previously specify safety mechanisms for workers near unprotected rooftop edges, the organization now mandates rooftop guardrail systems for those within six feet of a drop. These rules were mandated to come into effect in January 2018. If you haven’t already begun complying, now is the time.
Commercial roofs have varying lifespans. TPO roofs have the shortest life, with a maximum of 20–30 years. Meanwhile, asphalt roofs can last up to 40 years, and metal roofs can last up to 45. These are simply the documented life spans as they exist on paper, however. Under real-world conditions, most commercial roofs never last as long as their projected life.
Replacing a roof is expensive in terms of materials, cost of labor, and lost productivity. There’s also a loss of investment to think about. If you invest in a commercial roof with a lifespan of 40 years and it only lasts for three decades, then your roof is suddenly amortized over a much shorter amount of time. In other words, if you can extend the lifespan of your commercial roof, then your initial investment becomes much more bearable over time.
Lastly, there’s not just the roof itself to consider. The pipe supports on your roof hold gas pipes, refrigerants, electrical and internet cables, HVAC, and more. If and when these supports break down, the equipment upon them could break, exposing your roof to a variety of hazards that range from chemical spills to fires—all of which would cause the roof to fail to meet its expected lifespan without the help of an experienced commercial roofing company.
Very few roofs end up lasting for their projected lifespan. Any issue that arises during the installation of a roof will inevitably become magnified over time as sunlight, rain, snow, hail, and debris do their work. Ironically, even the process of inspecting a roof can in some ways bring about its early demise. Here are just a few of the biggest challenges that a commercial roof may face over its lifespan.
There are several different types of commercial roof coatings used today, including silicone, acrylic, aluminum, and polyurethane. They are sometimes referred to as restoration membranes because roof coatings are often applied over existing rooftop membranes, as opposed to being part of a new roof construction detail. They can also be used in partial applications to coat and re-coat parapet walls or portions of a roof.
While 15 years might seem like a long time, building owners know that this average life expectancy for roofing materials and RTUs can fly by quickly.
That’s especially true when your traditional built-up roof starts showing signs of water damage. Suddenly you’re left with a choice—maintain the rip-and-replace cycle or make an investment in rooftop retrofit projects.
The green building movement has exploded since the turn of the century, pushing the market close to the $100 billion mark.
Driving the standardization of this movement is the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED®) rating system. According to the U.S. Green Building Council, “LEED buildings have faster lease-up rates and may qualify for a host of incentives like tax rebates and zoning allowances. Not to mention they retain higher property values.”
There are all a whole host of cutting edge technologies that are poised to transform the traditional architectural design and construction process, and in fact some of them are already doing so. Whether it be drones, wearable smart vests and helmets, GPS tracking, or 3d printers, it seems that a serious majority of architects will have affordable access to revolutionary new techniques in the not too distant future to both gather information and to communicate ideas in increasingly realistic and virtual ways through the increased use of these technologies.
Commercial roof surfaces can often be an intense complex of pipe networks, platforms, HVAC equipment, and increasingly, smart technology, that needs to be organized and strongly secured to the building rooftop as a vital part of proper building safety and function. Both in the past and even in the present, it is easy for building owners to feel either real or perceived financial pressures to cut corners or improvise some of this securing and organization by using relatively cheap and temporary means of supports to include impromptu wood blocks and scaffolding, concrete block and rope, and other loose materials. But all buildings are serious investments. The problem is that while temporarily effective, such measures often lead to greater costs and consequences rather quickly down the road.