Roof Recovering: Maximizing Function and Service Life, Minimizing Expense for Facility Owners

July 22, 2016

burton-centerA roofing project is likely to be one of the most financially significant operational costs a building owner experiences. Choosing the right roofing solution can be challenging as there are many factors to consider, including the roof’s remaining serviceable life; whether the roof can be economically repaired to extend the serviceable life; and whether moisture infiltration has damaged the insulation, supporting roof deck, structural deck supports, walls at roof levels, etc. These are just a few of the issues Terracon began to address after receiving a call from the Burton Center for Disabilities and Special Needs in Greenwood, S.C., about leakage concerns.

The Burton Center is a non-profit, governmental agency that assists individuals in learning how to work, live and function on their own. Being a non-profit that relies on funding from the government alongside contributions from the community, it was extremely important for the agency to responsibly manage the available funds for roof repairs.

Performing a Detailed Roof Analysis

To provide a comprehensive analysis of the building roofs, Terracon performed a visual inspection of the nearly 110,000-square-foot roofing system. The team found the majority of the facility was in good condition with minimal leaks – despite being nearly 30 years old. A section of the roof at the front of the building was, however, in poor condition and needed immediate remediation. The team further evaluated the roofing system using infrared scans to determine if there was any additional hidden damage. Results revealed only the one isolated area in which moisture had made its way into the insulation.

Based on these findings, Terracon recommended repairing a majority of the roofs which should afford five additional years of serviceable life. For the front section in most need of repair, the team proposed recovering the existing roof.

Recommending Cost-effective Repair Solutions

Recovering a roof is typically less expensive than replacing one (on average, $2.00 per square- foot), in part due to the higher costs of labor relating to tear-off, transporting roof waste to landfills,
and disposal fees associated with roof replacement. It was determined that the recover roof system would provide a cost savings to the client of nearly $40,000.

Terracon next developed specified repair procedures for the contractor and designed a recover system using new, high-density insulation over the existing roof system to be installed directly in spray foam adhesive with a white, fully adhered fleece back PVC membrane. Not only did this system yield a leak-free roof, it gave the Burton Center a 20-year manufacturer’s warranty, improved thermal insulation, and reduced operational costs.

Every roof is different, and a recover may not always be the best option for extending a roof’s service life. It is imperative for facility owners and managers to engage experienced design professionals who can evaluate and recommend the correct roofing solution. Terracon understands the financial and operational impact roofing work creates, and we are committed to finding the best and most economical solution for every situation.

Michael Phifer, RRO, is an engineer in the Charlotte, N.C., office. He has experience in evaluation, design, and quality assurance in building enclosure, roof replacement, and recover projects and building enclosure services related to new construction. Michael also has experience in destructive and nondestructive testing along with building enclosure performance testing in accordance with American Architectural Management Association and the American Society for Testing and Materials standards.

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