If you make, build or process something inside your building, you have a lot more to deal with than the typical property owner when it comes to re-roofing.
Chances are roof leaks would not be good for business and neither would shutting down operations to deal with them. You probably have valuable equipment inside the building to protect, and also have rooftop equipment and penetrations that are unique to your industry. Any kind of debris falling inside the building during the re-roofing process is not acceptable and neither is having to repair or replace the roof again soon because the roofing materials didn’t hold up.
The way to maintain a watertight building and continue your operations throughout the re-roofing process is to choose the right contractor to re-roof your manufacturing facility. Choose a contractor who will do these six things:
1. Use the right materials
Your roofing contractor needs to know which materials work best in your situation so they can advise you correctly. Your facility may expose your roofing system to chemicals, grease, animal fat, cleaning agents, or other harsh, industry-specific elements. Some roofing materials are chemical-resistant and hold up (and clean up) much better under these conditions than others — your contractor needs to know which ones. Some materials appear comparable, or may be advertised as comparable, but they can have performance differences out in the field. And sometimes a roofing material that works well in one situation may be a poor choice in a situation that seems similar but is really slightly different.
To get the right advice, get bids from roofing contractors that have:
- At least five years (preferably ten years) industrial roofing experience
- Hands-on knowledge of the specific conditions facing your roof
- Deep understanding of the roofing material options available to you and the differences between them
- Experience working with the materials you need
- Proven skills, including certifications, to install the roofing system that will work best for your facility
2. Design the best roofing system for performance
Everything that makes up your roofing system — from roofing materials and installation techniques to venting and drainage strategies — impacts roof performance. Your contractor will need to spend time on your roof determining how it’s performing now and how it can be improved. Your contractor should test for wet insulation and have a lot of questions for you about your operations, schedules, and special concerns. These activities are part of any re-roofing process. As a manufacturer, the front-end planning is even more involved. Expect plenty of discussions as part of the estimating process.
If your building needs to maintain a certain temperature, for example, your roof design will need to protect against extreme temperatures (and sudden temperature changes) and maintain good vapor seals and perm ratings. And if food and beverage operations are involved, your roofing contractor should be an expert at knowing how to design to prevent grease and oil build up, which can lead to sanitation and contamination issues, and protect against any pooling, which can lead to a buildup of bacteria.
3. Put everything in writing ahead of time
When your roofing contractor comes to you with a proposal that works out every detail and contingency in advance, you can feel confident you are in good hands.
Your contractor’s proposal should:
- Address all of your special considerations, needs and concerns within a fully defined scope of work
- Include all exterior and interior protection plans
- Address real-time collaboration tactics for the project while it’s is in process
- Include a safety plan for your employees and theirs
- Provide clear, detailed information on safety inspections and schedules
- Have an EMR, or Experience Modification Rate, that’s under 1.0
- Have a minimum of $5 million commercial general liability insurance
A contractor that doesn’t meet these standards is not one you want in charge of your re-roofing project. Here’s how to compare proposals from roofing contractors — make sure to get at least two.
4. Protect the inside of your building at all times
Your contractor should provide detailed descriptions of how they’ll prevent the re-roofing process from interfering with or damaging your product, IT equipment or machinery. Often there is a significant amount of hands-on preparation to be done before the re-roofing work begins. Your contractor may want to construct temporary structures to protect the roof from surprise thunderstorms, and they’ll likely want to install temporary interior protection systems, such as plastic sheeting, inside your building to protect against dust and debris. Certain machines and equipment critical to your operations may require added protection as well.
Your contractor should spell all of this out in advance, and leave all protections in place until there is no more risk from unintended consequences.
Food and beverage processing facilities face additional risk — and regulations. Any leak of any size for any amount of time can expose your business to significant risk ranging from exposing customers to disease to completely shutting down your plant. Your contractor should know and meet each of your compliance standards.
5. Not interfere with your business operations
Roofing contractors with experience working with manufacturing facilities know how to do their work without interfering with yours. To accommodate your operations during each phase of the re-roofing process — removing materials, applying insulation, applying the roof membrane and related components, and final cleanup and inspection — they will adhere to special procedures. Depending on your facility, these may include:
- Strategies to minimize or eliminate downtime for your operations
- Use of larger crews or work around the clock to complete the process faster
- Working around your schedules to accommodate specific operations that take place at specific times of day
- Strategies to reduce the noise of tearing away old roof materials and installing new ones
- Use of low-VOC adhesives and other products to reduce unpleasant smells
- Procedures that restrict the ways technicians access the roofing system and work around the property
- Procedures for temporarily storing and removing waste from the property
- Contingency plans for how to deal with unexpected rain and rain delays
6. Maintain your roof after installing it
Experienced, full-service commercial roofing contractors usually offer maintenance services — it’s a good idea to use the same contractor who installed your roof. Your contractor understands every inch of your new roof and what’s underneath it. Even though you may have staff who can keep your new roof free from debris and check to make sure the drainage system is working (no ponding) and the vent areas are clean, your roofing contractor’s maintenance crews are trained to spot potential problems. If the crew sees something suspicious, they can escalate the issue immediately to determine the best course of action. If one of the contractors bidding the project doesn’t offer maintenance services, that might be a red flag. Contractors who stand by their installation work look forward to maintaining it, too.
No matter who does your maintenance, make sure they deliver a report with photos after each visit so you have them for your records. And if your industry requires you to have building inspections, having a professional roof maintenance team on your side can be especially beneficial. You don’t want any surprises when the inspectors come.
Sentry Roof Services has been installing, maintaining and repairing industrial roofing systems for 35 years. We prefer to maintain the roofs we install — we believe roof management is most effective when there’s a high level of accountability involved. The partnership model works best. By working closely with our clients, and especially clients whose properties require special considerations like manufacturing facilities, we can help them get the performance and protection they need so they don’t have to worry about their roofs.
And whether we’re installing a new roof at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, Hormel Foods, Lockheed Martin, Yerkes Primate Center or any of the dozens of small manufacturing facilities we work on, our clients’ operations always come first. We work around their needs.
If you are considering re-roofing your manufacturing facility, we welcome the opportunity to talk to you about it. In fact, we’d like to talk to you before your roof needs re-roofing so we can help you manage your roof to your best advantage. Please feel free to contact us at any time. We’re a full-service roofing contractor that excels at handling small repair projects as much as big installation jobs.