Four Ways Technology Boosted My Business

We all know technology can benefit our businesses in many ways. The challenge is selecting the right technology from the hundreds of apps and programs out there.

One area I needed technology to help with was providing a more seamless and efficient way of ordering materials for different jobs. Luckily my tech selection process was made a little easier when I learned my building materials supplier had an online program that could connect with the software I was already using.

After talking with a sales representative, I was able to start working with the online program the very next week.

Here’s how it works:

  • I can take aerial measurements— within 98 percent accuracy—of a roof without getting up there to take manual measurements.
  • The software uses the roof measurements and my distributor’s real-time pricing and products to create a materials list.
  • I turn my materials list into an order I electronically submit to my distributor from anywhere.

After working with hundreds of orders since implementing this program in September 2015, I’ve experienced a 20 percent decrease in the time required to process orders for building materials and have seen more efficiency and accuracy in my projects.

Here’s how this technology helped my business:

Project Visualization

Prior to taking advantage of this program, I placed orders based on information from project hand sketches. This would often lead to time-consuming follow-ups with my team to get more details or confirm information. Now I can electronically enter aerial roof and wall measurements, review and update them if necessary, and create materials lists.

Having all our important information in an electronic tool is great! I no longer have to call my team to confirm handwritten information. This has resulted in my team being more efficient and reduced the number of ordering errors that come from misinterpreting information on a piece of paper.

It’s also helpful to have an electronic tool where I can look up all my orders and see when they were placed and what items were included.

Accessible Products

Having technology that integrates with my supplier gives me the ability to access real-time products and pricing during and outside of business hours. This flexibility is so important. One evening I needed cost information on a skylight and all I had to do was go to my account to get the price through the online program.

Manage Business 24/7

From creating estimates to submitting orders, one of my favorite features of this technology is that it gives me the option to access projects 24/7. This lets me place many of my orders after business hours or on weekends, freeing up my time during the day to focus on other projects. I also no longer need to scan or fax orders, and I can quickly locate order information, like date ordered or materials lists, if I need to.

Seamlessly Work With Business Contacts

My business specializes in storm damage and roof replacement, so my team often works with other parties, such as insurance companies. Not only does the software I use integrate with my supplier’s program, it’s also a tool used by some insurance adjusters to measure and quote roof repairs. Being able to use the same or a similar type of software with different groups of people makes my job easier by streamlining our process.

No matter what project we are working on, we have one goal: make the roof repair and replacement process easy for our customers. But that doesn’t mean things have to be harder for my team. And thanks to the technology we’ve incorporated into our workflow, it isn’t.

It can be tough (and often overwhelming) trying to figure out what technology will be the best fit for your business, especially when so many options claim to help with things like efficiency and accuracy. My advice for finding the best solutions for you? Talk to your team to identify areas you want to improve and then check with your distributor to see if it has any technology solutions for your business. The more you can simplify the steps you need to go through to place orders and get materials, the easier (and more accurate and more efficient) your job will be.

Brian Schaible relies on the ABC Connect program, which integrates with AccuLynx Quick Order and EagleView Construct, to streamline his business. To learn more about ABC Connect, read an “Online Exclusive” about it.

Concrete Tile Roofing Protects Canadian Hotel from the Elements

The Moose Hotel & Suites is located in Banff, Alberta, Canada. The resort sits at an elevation of 4,600 to 5,300 feet in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, about 80 miles west of Calgary.

The Moose Hotel & Suites is located in Banff, Alberta, Canada. The resort sits at an elevation of 4,600 to 5,300 feet in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, about 80 miles west of Calgary.

Banff, Alberta, Canada, sits at an elevation of 4,600 to 5,300 feet in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, about 80 miles west of Calgary. The small community (around 8,000 permanent residents) was established as a resort town almost immediately after its hot springs were discovered by Canadian Pacific Railway workers in 1883. The town, which is built in a valley surrounded by mountains, has been a popular tourist destination for more than a century and is known for skiing and, of course, the Banff Upper Hot Springs.

Because of its history of tourism, Banff offers comfortable lodging at every price point. Among the town’s options for accommodations are nine hotels owned and operated by Banff Lodging Co.; the company also has seven restaurants, two spas, and a ski school and rental shop. The Moose Hotel & Suites is the lodging company’s newest four-star property, having opened in July 2016.

Because Banff is a national park, the Moose Hotel & Suites project is significant because it is one of the largest hotel developments (174 rooms) since the Canadian federal government’s 1998 commercial growth cap, which has prevented many hospitality developments from being built. Despite being approved, the Moose Hotel & Suites still was required to adhere to Banff’s design guidelines. The guidelines state they were enacted “to prevent any monstrosities being put there to destroy the general beauty of the park.”

In fact, the guidelines require that all developments, particularly hotels, enhance views to the mountains surrounding Banff. “They want visitors to realize they’re really in the mountains and not just anywhere in a hotel room,” explains Ted Darch, owner of Calgary-based E.J. Darch Architect Ltd., the architect on the Moose Hotel & Suites project. “We wanted to take advantage of the views, so designing the hotel to resemble a village with a courtyard in the middle allowed us to capture the drama of the mountains. You’ll see the reviews on TripAdvisor mention this.”

Darch has been working on Banff Lodging’s projects since the mid-1980s. The concept for the Moose Hotel & Suites evolved over a number of years as Banff Lodging acquired the property for the hotel and Darch worked on other projects for the company. Similarly, Banff Lodging chose the Moose Hotel & Suites’ roofing contractor because of a long-standing relationship.

“We’ve done work with Banff Lodging for about 10 years on most all its other facilities,” explains Brock Hanson, president and CEO of Banff-based Rocky Mountain Sundeck & Roof. “This was a pinnacle Banff job that doesn’t occur often due to the building guidelines. Having this project in our backyard was just fantastic to be a part of.”

Constructed to Withstand the Elements

The new hotel had to meet Banff’s strict design guidelines. It also had to withstand the subarctic climate (winters as cold as -40 F and short and cool summers, as well as 15 to 40 inches of precipitation, typically snow, per year). The Moose Hotel & Suites features spray foam at R-20 in the walls and R-40 in the roof. The spray-foam insulation not only keeps guests and staff warm during Banff ’s long winters, but also protects the building against air and moisture infiltration.

The Moose Hotel & Suites was required to adhere to Banff’s design guidelines, which were developed “to prevent any monstrosities being put there to destroy the general beauty of the park.”

The Moose Hotel & Suites was required to adhere to Banff’s design guidelines, which were developed “to prevent any monstrosities being put there to destroy the general beauty of the park.”


Darch had specified concrete tile roofing on a Banff Lodging hotel previously, but Hanson recommended a new supplier with whom he had previously worked. Darch met with a salesperson from the roofing manufacturer to discuss its concrete tile product. After he checked some samples, Darch was convinced this was the right product for the project.

The distinctive concrete tile was chosen for its energy efficiency and durability. It resembles natural slate to complement the design of the rustic mountain lodge. Because it is concrete, the tile is able to withstand the subarctic region’s extreme weather and withstands flying embers in case of forest fires. “We learned a big lesson about fire recently in Fort McMurray, north of Edmonton, Alberta,” Darch notes. “They had a terrible fire last summer that destroyed something like 2,000 houses. They’re in the forest and Banff is in the forest, so fire resistance was important.”

Concrete Tile Roofing

The tiles’ aesthetic also appealed to Darch; he especially liked that he was able to choose a bright red (Mission Red) for the roof. “From the architectural perspective, what is really nice is the color possibilities and to make the roof color part of the overall scheme of things is great,” he says. “Other roofing options were nice but they didn’t have the snap that the red tile does.”

Photos courtesy of Boral Roofing.

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Avoid Problems with Skylights through Proper Installation

As trendy as they are for green building and demonstrably beneficial for energy savings
through daylighting, skylights are sometimes viewed with a certain trepidation by roofing
contractors. After all, skylights are essentially holes in the roof with the potential to compromise roofing workers’ handiwork by providing unintended leakage paths.

Proper installation is essential to realizing designed-in leak-free performance and can vary by type of roofing involved and the type of skylight. It is recommended to always refer to and use the skylight manufacturer’s instructions that are specific to the roof system being installed. Of course, applicable code requirements supersede any instructions to the contrary.

 A commercial skylight provides more daylight and improves an indoor recreational setting. PHOTO: Structures Unlimited

A commercial skylight provides more daylight and improves an indoor recreational setting. PHOTO: Structures Unlimited

AAMA 1607-14, “Installation Guidelines for Unit Skylights”, which is an industry consensus guideline published by the Schaumburg, Ill.-based American Architectural Manufacturers Association, intended for use when manufacturer instructions are absent or incomplete, provides basic step- by-step installation instructions for 19 different ways to integrate various roofing materials, underlayment, flashing and skylight-mounting configurations to preserve the drainage plane. This must be the overriding intent of any installation protocols.

Note that some roofing contractors warrant their work against leakage, and skylight installation should not compromise or void such warranties. When in doubt, independent installers should confer with the roofing contractor.

INSTALLATION SUPPLIES

Proper installation begins with selection and use of the proper supplies—notably sealants, fasteners and flashing.

SEALANT SELECTION
If sealants are recommended by the manufacturer, follow the manufacturer’s specifications. When the manufacturer is silent about the use of sealants and the installation guidelines dictate their use, the following recommendations should be observed:

  • Compatibility—The sealant must not adversely react with or weaken the material it contacts.
  • Adhesion—The sealant must have good long-term adhesion. Surface preparation, cleaning procedures and, in some cases, primers are recommended by the sealant manufacturer.
  • Service Temperature—If the installation location involves elevated ambient temperatures, the sealant should exhibit corresponding service temperature performance.
  • Durability—The sealant must be capable of maintaining the required flexibility and integrity over time.
  • Application—Proper bead size and other application details should be followed to ensure a well-performing joint. Improper use of sealants can dam water pathways, so an important rule of thumb is not to block any weep holes that may be in the skylight system.

Typically, sealant or roofing cement is applied around the perimeter of the rough opening (deck mount) or the flange of self-flashing units or the top edge of a mounting frame. However, some skylights are designed with integral flashing flanges to be installed without the need for sealants.

It is also possible to utilize rolled roofing membranes as a substitute for sealants or plastic roofing cement.

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Architects and Roof System Designers: Your Details and Drawings Are Seriously Lacking Design Intent

Dear Mr. and Ms. Architect and Roof System Designer:
The following are comments I hear over and over:

  • “Seventy-five percent of the time I cannot determine what roof assembly an architect wants from a spec.”
  • “One always feels they have to play private detective and try to figure out what [a roof system designer] actually wants.”

As an architect and registered roof consultant, I take great pride in my roof system designs and detailing, which are project specific, at minimum meet the code, and more often than not exceed code with all conditions and building components that impinge on the roof detailed for the specific project. In listening to construction managers, general contractors, roofing contractors and suppliers talk, you would think that architects barely know that the roof is on top of the building! It seems most do not even have basic knowledge and certainly don’t know when water may flow uphill. This is embarrassing to hear! It starts in the university with the curriculum placing all emphasis on building design and not how to actually construct a building. In many ways, this is good for my firm as we are busy fixing what should never have required fixing.

Peer review of several projects designed by very large (and what you would assume to be very sophisticated firms) and even small boutique firms reveals the following:

A. The roof system design is not code compliant in regard to tapered insulation.

B. The roof system itself is not code compliant, but contract documents require “contractor to verify or be responsible for code compliance”. This begs the question: Who is being paid to design? Is it the architect or the contractor?

C. Structural and, especially, structural lightweight concrete pose significant roofing challenges and architects have no clue about that, resulting in roof systems in danger of imminent failure.

D. The accuracy of construction documents in general is very, very low. Even I cannot often determine what roof assembly an architect wants from a specification.

  • 1. For example, architects do not list products in the specs that will be used in the assembly.
  • 2. Substrate boards, cover boards and vapor barriers are frequently listed in the specs but never shown on the plan.

E. The detailing of wall air barriers to roof vapor or air barriers is not shown and certainly no definition of responsibility prescribed as to who is to tie these materials together.

F. Understanding of material limitations is non-existent.

  • 1. Weather, wind, cold, snow, humidity and temperature affect the installation of roof system components. I especially get a kick out of seeing water-based adhesives being specified for construction taking place in winter; this means future work for my firm.

G. Roof edges and how they terminate at high walls is never detailed.

H. Roof drains and curbs are improperly or not detailed.

I. Specifications are inadequate—often boilerplate generic—and do not match the drawings. I’ve also seen non-specific details that are not to scale or do not reflect actual conditions.

  • 1. Design wind speed is not given when appropriate.
  • 2. Warranty requirements are in- correct, not thought-out or not specified at all.

J. Architects or consultants sometimes have multiple designs listed in the specification, leaving it to the con- tractor to issue RFIs that, more often than not, are not answered.

  • 1. These inconsistencies lead to frustration and, in many cases, the contractors just decide it is not worth the time or effort to even bid the project or add a good deal of money to cover undefined items.

K. I’ve witnessed owners who have hired professionals to design build- ings costing hundreds of millions of dollars, and yet these “professionals” often do not exhibit the standard of care expected.

  • 1. Poor designs compound when met with an irresponsible contractor who will not do his or her due diligence and investigate what is needed to install a quality system.

Illustrations: courtesy of Hutchinson Design Group Ltd.

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