The decision to re-roof your property is not one to take lightly. Yet nothing lasts forever, including your roof. For ten years, Sentry Roof performed roof management services to maintain and repair the roofing system on this 87,000 square-foot, multi-tenant commercial building in Stone Mountain, GA, to ensure it was protecting the property. The owner has been our client for two decades so when we advised her the time had come for a new roof on this building, she knew it was time to take action.
This particular roof had tons (literally) of river rock as part of its EPDM ballasted roofing system — the weight of the rock keeps this type of roofing system in place. Re-roofing a ballasted system requires you to do one of two things. Either remove the rock and install a different type of membrane attachment system or move the rock temporarily and replace the roof with the same kind of system. We did the latter. And we did it in a way that allowed our crew to move 88% of the rock only once instead of taking it all off then putting it all back on again.
Deciding when it’s the right time to re-roof
The roofing system had been doing its job protecting the property since about 1992. Sure, it took 179 work orders over ten years to ensure it was doing its job, but that’s part of roof management. Many of the repairs were minor and to be expected with age. Had the roof been experiencing major issues all at once, we would’ve recommended re-roofing earlier. But making repairs as needed and keeping a close eye on any changes during maintenance allowed the owner to get many more years out of the roof she already had.
All of the challenges faced by an aging roofing system aren’t necessarily related to the field of the roof. For example, if there’s a pipe running through the roof, the flashing seals around that pipe will eventually get old and could create a leak. Your roofing contractor can repair that leak but what about the other 50 pipes penetrating the roof? Do you incur the cost to make preventative repairs in advance or do you just fix each one as it fails? There is no right answer to that question — each property and circumstances are unique and each property owner has a different set of priorities and level of risk tolerance.
At this property, the risks from both the aging roofing system and flashing systems had turned a corner and we were concerned the likelihood of simultaneous failure points would soon be imminent and cause the overall roof system to fail. It was no longer sensible to postpone re-roofing. We recommended installing a new EPDM ballasted system because it was the most economical, time-proven solution for this method, the structure itself was built for the weight of the rock ballast, and the original system had performed well overall.
How do you move 87,000 square feet of rock?
To make re-roofing as economical as possible for our client, we decided to install a new roof over the existing salvageable roof insulation — we did not remove the entire old system.
To reuse the existing rock and interfere as little as possible with the tenants’ business operations, we moved the rock one section at a time. We located and replaced the wet insulation underneath the exposed section, added additional new insulation, then loose laid the new membrane. Once a section was complete, we recovered it with the rock from the next section to be re-roofed. The result was like a wave of new roof installation — and our crew only needed to move each strip of rock one time.
We worked this way from one end of the u-shaped building to the other, replacing about 8,000 SF of roof a day for ten days. Everything went as planned — there were no surprises.
While most new flat roof installations in the southeast US today are TPO, we used new EPDM because in this ballasted configuration EPDM tends to perform predictably. EPDM is a durable synthetic rubber membrane that’s resistant to hail and extreme weather, adaptive to structural movement and can be recycled when re-roofing. We used 45 mil EPDM from Firestone, which offered an NDL (no dollar limit) labor and material 15-year warranty.
Reusing insulation to keep costs down
Energy code requirements have changed since the last time the property was re-roofed so, to meet current energy code, we over doubled the roofs thermal value by adding new insulation over existing insulation that was in good condition. The newer requirement adds to the cost of re-roofing projects, of course, but reusing insulation helps keeps those costs down. At Sentry, we reuse and repurpose roofing materials whenever possible — it’s good business and better for the environment.
A full 98% of the original insulation on this roof was reusable because the facility never had an unattended roof leak issue. Now that the roof is compliant with today’s standards the property owner and tenants will benefit from improved building performance and reduced energy use and costs.
How we ensured tenants could maintain full operations
This property, located at 2300 West Park Place, is a fully occupied commercial office warehouse complex — the building is filled with people doing their work and deliveries come and go all day long. From the first day on the job we took special care to limit operations to the roof area only and not get in anyone’s way or inhibit anyone’s business. There are a lot of small actions that each of our crew takes in making this possible (such as no yelling, music or trash left behind) but for this project logistics also made a big difference. Sentry Roof:
- Notified the tenants where and when activity would be performed so they understood the process in advance.
- Loaded all of the new materials onto the roof at strategic areas at one time so there wouldn’t be additional activity on the ground after the loading day
- Made sure all of our crew arrived in just a couple of vehicles so as not to occupy more parking spaces than necessary or interfere with deliveries
We want our roofs to look as good as they perform. When we re-roof a property, our service includes all of the components that make the new roof function properly and complete the roof aesthetically. This gives us complete control of the roofing system design.
For this project, the design included 3,000 feet of new architectural sheet metal that makes the transition from the roof over the top of the wall and finishes the roof-edge detail. We fabricated the Kynar pre-finished sheet metal in our shop, cutting flat metal into strips and then machine-forming it into the shapes we needed. We do the fabrication ourselves almost all of the time because we consider it to be an integral part of our roofing services.
Even new roofs need to be maintained
While having a new roof does relieve property owners of the kind of rigorous maintenance required to keep an older roof performing well, it’s always important to keep your roof free from debris and check for possible damage from foot traffic and activity related to serving rooftop equipment. Sentry typically visits this project twice yearly and addresses general maintenance issues.
One of the reasons Sentry thinks it’s so important to develop strong relationships with our clients around roof management is so they trust what we’re telling them about their roofing systems. By explaining exactly what’s going on with their roof, what it means to roof performance, and the options available to them for addressing each issue, our clients are well-informed and also stay in the driver’s seat. They choose the solution that works best for them given their circumstances at the time — and we make it work. We can fix and maintain almost any roofing situation but when we can no longer do that, our clients need to believe that we aren’t just trying to sell them a new roof. We want to protect them from a failing roof.
Sentry is proud of the work we did on this roof — both maintaining it for a decade and installing the new roof — and we are glad to have met our client’s needs. You can see this project and others in our Featured Projects section of this website.
If you have a fully occupied commercial property or operate a property that has other special circumstances and are concerned about how re-roofing might impact your tenants (or your budget), we hope you give us a call. We specialize in roof management services that help you keep your roof performing well while interfering as little as possible with your building’s operations.