Polymer Roofing Stands Up to Wichita, Kan., Weather

The morning of April 2, 2015, started out clear and sunny for residents at the Harbor Isle community in Wichita, Kan. By evening, a powerful microburst with winds reaching up to 100 mph destroyed a bulk of the roofs in the subdivision——except polymer roofs installed by Heiland Roofing and Exteriors, Wichita.

Polymer roofs installed by Heiland Roofing and Exteriors, Wichita, received very little if any damage during the microburst.

Polymer roofs installed in the Harbor Isle subdivision by Heiland Roofing and Exteriors, Wichita, received very little if any damage during the microburst.

“The majority of concrete tiles sustained very serious damage with many others demolished,” says Mike Heiland, president of Heiland Roofing and Exteriors. “Of the three composite roofs we installed in this community, one home had zero damage, another home had one missing ridge cap, and the third home needed approximately 10 feet of ridge replaced. That’s absolutely nothing compared to the devastation that all the other homes in that neighborhood experienced.”

According to homeowner Paul Dugan, roofing debris littered the entire Harbor Isle community after the storm. “Concrete roof tiles were thrown through neighbor’s windows, into vehicles parked along the streets and in driveways,” Dugan says. “A couple of the homes that had been recently reroofed by Heiland Roofing with polymer shake roofing tiles had every single tile in place and no visible damage to the property. I was very impressed and called Heiland Roofing the next morning.”

HOA Selects Polymer Roofing

A distant relative to a tornado, the National Weather Service, Washington, D.C., defines a microburst as sinking air (or a downdraft) in a thunderstorm that is less than 2 1/2 miles in scale. A microburst can develop as a result of cooling beneath a thunderstorm cloud base or because of mid-level dry air entrainment.

Wet, dry and hybrid microburst distinctions exist. With each of these, significant straight-line wind damage can occur, resulting in snapped power poles and tree and roof damage. There can also be a loss of power and potential hail. In Wichita on April 2, all these factors occurred when strong straight-line winds hit the area before a bow echo thunderstorm. With an appearance like a comma—a round head on one end and a tail on the other—a bow echo thunderstorm moves rapidly. Generally, the atmosphere is unstable during these moisture-laden storms and wind shear is present, making bow echo thunderstorms very dangerous.

a powerful microburst with winds reaching up to 100 mph destroyed a bulk of the roofs in the subdivision

A powerful microburst with winds reaching up to 100 mph destroyed a bulk of the roofs in the subdivision.

Kansas residents are no strangers to severe weather. Located in Tornado Alley, most homeowners, like Dugan, understand their state is subject to unusually strong weather during the course of the year. That’s why many people, like the residents of Harbor Isle, seek out durable building products to help protect their homes and families.

“When constructed about 18 years ago, our community had wood shake and concrete tiles used for roofing,” says Dee Manning, president of the Harbor Isle I homeowner association, which consists of 59 homes. “As the years went on, the wood shakes were wearing out and, at the same time, they became harder to get insured. We wanted an alternative that was realistic looking but lightweight enough to be installed over the existing roof trusses of the homes in our community. We did our research and found a polymer roof tile that was a realistic alternative to natural cedar shakes. Our community started offering polymer products three years ago as an option for homeowners looking for replacement roofing.”

Polymer Roofs Gain Foothold

After the microburst, the homeowners’ association received notice that 15 to 20 roofs, plus a variety of decks, were damaged.

“Nothing will protect a home from Mother Nature if a tornado is sitting right on top of you,” Heiland says. “But if you’re on the outskirts and just getting pounding hail or strong winds, at least a manmade polymer roof will give your home a fighting chance.”

For almost a dozen years Heiland and his team have recommended and installed imitation slate and synthetic shake roofing products. “The look and durability of these imitation slate and synthetic shake shingles is simply incredible,” Heiland notes. “For our geographic area—and any part of the country that can get severe weather—the impact resistance of these products is a tremendous asset. In the many years I’ve been installing polymer roofing, we’ve never had one of their roofs totaled by hail.”

Fifteen to 20 roofs, plus a variety of decks, were damaged during the storm.

Fifteen to 20 roofs, plus a variety of decks, were damaged during the storm.

Made of 100 percent recyclable virgin resins, the polymer tiles installed on the Harbor Isle homes are engineered to resist fire, impact, insects and algae. The products are Class A-rated for fire retardance, have achieved a Class 4 impact rating and passed the TAS-100 certification test for wind-driven rain. The durable products have also passed the maximum of 110 mph in the ASTM D 3161 Standard for straight-line winds and achieved very high design pressures in TAS-125, a test to demonstrate wind uplifts and acceptability to be installed in High Velocity Hurricane Zones.

“After the microburst in April, there are at least 10 homes ready to commit to the polymer tiles to replace their destroyed concrete tile roofs,” Manning says.

Dugan was one of the homeowners ready for change. “I now have a [polymer] roof that looks exactly the same as the concrete tile roof but has the highest impact resistance in the industry,” he says. “The impressive interlocking system allows for installation with securing the tile in all four corners so we’re not going to worry about tiles peeling back and blowing away in future storms.”

Roof Materials

Bellaforté Slate from DaVinci Roofscapes

PHOTOS: DaVinci Roofscapes

The Roofing Industry Seeks to Protect Buildings from Storms

I used to love storms. I was never one to cower at the sound of thunder. I often found storms a good excuse to turn off the TV and lights, open the blinds and marvel at the sheer power of nature. If you read my January/February “Raise the Roof”, however, you know I have had a love-hate relationship with rain since moving in with my husband (we married in August 2015). I found myself awake on rainy nights, counting the seconds between pumps of our sump
pump. If less than 20 seconds passed, I knew the basement was flooding and dreaded the morning’s cleanup. (I work from home and my office is in the basement.)

In March, a waterproofing company spent two days installing its patented drain- age system and a new sump pump inside our basement. We monitored the system throughout the month of April, which was rainy, to ensure there were no leaks in the system. It worked like a charm! During April, we also hired contractors to create my new home office, a guestroom and walk-in closet within the basement. So far, we have new windows, lighting and insulation; the contractors are finishing up drywall and ceiling installation as I type.

I know what it’s like when you can’t trust your house to weather a storm. There’s nothing worse than feeling powerless, and seeing your belongings destroyed is gut-wrenching. As the nation braces against another summer of intense weather, it’s comforting to know the construction industry—specifically roofing—is researching and innovating to protect people’s homes and businesses from Mother Nature’s wrath.

For example, in “Business Sense”, Jared O. Blum, president of the Washington, D.C.-based Polyisocyanurate Insulation Manufacturers Association, writes about initiatives to improve the resiliency of our building stock and infrastructure through codes, standards and proactive design.

The Clinton, Ohio-based Roofing Industry Committee on Weather Issues Inc., better known as RICOWI, recently sent 30 researchers to the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex after an April hailstorm. According to Joan Cook, RICOWI’s executive director, the 10 teams of three inspected 3 million square feet of low and steep-slope roofing during the investigation. The teams’ findings will result in a report to help the industry better understand what causes roofs to perform or fail in severe hail events, leading to overall improvements in roof system durability. Learn how RICOWI mobilizes and studies roofs in “Special Report”.

There are many other stories within this issue about roof systems working along- side other building components to create durable, sustainable and energy-efficient buildings. Humans have a long history of innovating and evolving to meet the needs of their current situation. I have no doubt that in my lifetime our buildings will be built to withstand nearly any catastrophic event. Meanwhile, I’m happy to report we received 4 1/2 inches of rain in three hours last week and our basement remained bone dry. Thanks to innovations in basement waterproofing, I may start to enjoy storms just a bit again!

Copper-clad Stainless Steel Replaces a Tornado-damaged Roof at the St. Louis Airport

Hundreds of people milled about the terminals at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport on the evening of April 22, 2011. Three airplanes with passengers on board sat on the tarmac. It was business as usual at one of the largest municipal airports in the country. But meteorological conditions were anything but usual. A powerful supercell over St. Louis spawned an EF4 tornado (view the Enhanced Fujita Scale, which rates the strength of tornados by the damage caused, on page 2) packing 150-mph winds. The twister barreled directly into the airport 11 miles northwest of downtown, blowing out half the floor-to-ceiling windows in the main terminal and inflicting approximately $30 million in damages. In addition, the tornado seriously damaged part of the copper roof over Terminal 1.

CopperPlus was installed in stages over the domes at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. Like solid copper, copper-clad stainless steel acquires a patina over time.

CopperPlus was installed in stages over the domes at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. Like solid copper, copper-clad stainless steel acquires a patina over time.

The 55-year-old roof was iconic and beautiful. Its four copper domes had been the crowning glory of Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, welcoming up to 13 million international passengers each year. But the roof had been showing its age for some time, leaking often and requiring frequent maintenance. Following the tornado strike, airport officials made the difficult decision to permanently retire the roof. “The tornado damaged less than 10 percent of the total roof, but that section needed to be totally replaced,” explains Jerry Beckmann, deputy airport director of Planning & Development. “That damage, plus the fact that the roof was almost 60-years old, influenced our decision.”

Airport officials were challenged to install more than 100,000 square feet of material over four domed vaults as quickly as possible with minimal disruption to the public. Beckmann, who is an engineer, wanted a roof that was watertight and capable of withstanding high winds while airport administrators wanted to maintain the roof’s mid-century architectural integrity. All parties wanted the project completed as economically as possible with results that were aesthetically pleasing, historically appropriate and, most important, built for harsh weather events.

COPPER AND STEEL

They found the solution in copper-clad stainless steel, a material that has been used in roofing applications for roughly 50 years. The selected ASTM B506-09 architectural metal features two outer layers of 100 percent copper strip roll bonded at very high pressures to a core of Type 430 stainless steel, the same metallurgical bonding process used to make U.S. quarters and dimes. The material delivered the natural beauty and patination properties of solid copper with the strength and durability of stainless steel—exactly the attributes desired by officials at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport.

“Copper-clad stainless steel is a great-looking material that can be fabricated for any roofing style. You can’t tell the difference between it and straight-up copper,” says Shane Williams, vice president of Civil Construction for Kozeny-Wagner Inc., the Arnold, Mo.-based general contractor awarded the public bid by the city of St. Louis. “It’s stronger, has a better shelf life and costs less than pure copper. This allowed us to bid competitively for the job and even return a credit to the city of St. Louis.”

Workers install CopperPlus batten-seam panels over a dome at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. Stepby- step, the installation of CopperPlus is virtually identical to that of copper.

Workers install CopperPlus batten-seam panels over a dome at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport. Step-by-step, the installation of CopperPlus is virtually identical to that of copper.

The owners of Missouri Builders Service Inc., the Jefferson, Mo.-based roofing subcontractor, were attracted to the material’s lighter weight and easy solderability. “We were going to have to maneuver a lot of material on the job site and perform a very large amount of soldering to cover four domes,” notes John Kinkade, Missouri Builders Service’s vice president. “We liked that copper-clad stainless steel had a lower thermal conductivity for easier soldering. That was important to us, given the scope of the project.”

The $6.7 million project to replace the airport roof was announced at a press conference in March 2014 by St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley and Lambert-St. Louis International Airport Director Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge. “The new skin will shine of raw copper like it did in the mid ’50s when the terminal was built,” Slay stated in a press release issued by the airport. “The roof will slowly transform in color again in time as this airport serves new generations in this region.”

WEATHERING NATURE’S WORST

Copper-clad stainless steel has become more popular in tornado and hurricane-prone regions of the U.S. in recent years, thanks to the strengthening of building codes for wind-lift and hail-resistance standards. Copper-clad stainless steel conforms to Miami-Dade BCCO requirements and exceeds UL2218 Class 4 hail-test requirements; wind-uplift tests have shown its strength to be equivalent to steel at the same gauge. It offers a strength advantage compared to solid copper, providing higher tensile strength and yield strength at a thinner gauge than monolithic copper.

Numerous churches, college buildings, museums, private residences and other buildings nationwide now feature copper-clad stainless steel in their custom roofs, dormers, cupolas, flashings and downspouts. Notable installations include the following:

  • Several 67-foot panels of copper-clad stainless steel were rolled onsite, then lifted and put in place by a crane to replace the ice-damaged roof at the St. Francis of Assisi Catholic Church, Traverse City, Mich.
  • In 2012, more than 30,000 square feet of copper-clad stainless steel were installed in the fascia and coping of the Trinka Davis Veterans Village, Carrollton, Ga., the nation’s first privately funded U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs’ VA facility.
  • In 2014, the material was selected for a 2,100-square-foot perforated sunscreen installation in San Francisco’s Mission Bay neighborhood, one of the most significant urban development projects in the U.S.

PHOTOS: MISSOURI BUILDERS SERVICE INC. AND LAMBERT-ST. LOUIS INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT

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The BTI-Greensburg John Deere Dealership Installs Tornado-Resistant Daylighting Systems and Other Sustainable Materials

On the night of May 4, 2007, brothers Kelly and Mike Estes saw their BTI-Greensburg John Deere Dealership obliterated by an EF5 tornado nearly 2-miles wide (according to the Enhanced Fujita Scale, which rates the strength of tornados by the damage caused; view the scale on page 3). Astoundingly, 95 percent of their town—Greensburg, Kan.—was also destroyed that day. The tornado did much more than rip roofs off buildings and toss things around; it turned the entire community into what looked like kindling.

Rarely do communities get hit by an EF5 tornado, which can come about when air masses collide. Sometimes warm, humid air from the Gulf of Mexico rises above drier air from the Southwest deserts in the U.S. This can create unstable conditions resulting in thunderstorms and worse. A strong collision of air masses creates a strong storm. Additionally, wind patterns and the jet stream can magnify the storm, resulting in what people refer to as “the perfect storm”.

After being completely destroyed by an EF5 tornado, the BTI-Greensburg John Deere Dealership has been rebuilt in Greensburg, Kan., in a better, greener way.

After being completely destroyed by an EF5 tornado, the BTI-Greensburg John Deere Dealership has been rebuilt in Greensburg, Kan., in a better, greener way.

Despite the large-scale losses incurred by the entire town, 100 customers and friends of the Estes family showed up the morning of May 5 to help them salvage what remained of their business. Shortly after the tornado disaster, Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius stated her wish that Greensburg become the “the greenest city in the state”.

As part of their commitment to their community, Kelly, Mike and their family decided to rebuild their business in a better, greener way. They wanted the new 28,000-square-foot prefabricated metal building to be the world’s greenest farm-machinery facility; attain a LEED Platinum rating from the Washington, D.C.-based U.S. Green Building Council; and use the least energy possible. One of the most important considerations was using building materials that could withstand future tornados.

DAYLIGHTING

To help achieve LEED Platinum and outlast any future high-velocity winds, they incorporated 12 Daylighting Systems in their retail area’s roof to showcase their merchandise; reduce lighting energy costs; and flood the area with natural light, a benefit for customers and employees.

The Daylighting Systems capture light through a dome on the roof and channel it down through a highly reflective tube. This tubing is more efficient than a traditional drywall skylight shaft, which can lose over half of the potential light. The tubing fits between rafters and installs with no structural modification. At the ceiling level, a diffuser that resembles a recessed light fixture spreads the light evenly throughout the room.

The dome is made from high-quality acrylic resin that is specifically formulated for increased impact strength, chemical- and weather-resistance, and high clarity (a polycarbonate inner dome is used for high-velocity hurricane zones). Domes are engineered to deflect midday heat and maximize low-angle light capture. The tubing is made from puncture-proof aluminum sheet coated with the highly reflective material for maximum light transfer. The units (independently tested by Architectural Testing in Fresno, Calif.) comply with various building codes including the 2009 International Building Code and 2010 Florida Building Code, including high-velocity hurricane zones.

“When our power went out one time for four hours, we were able to keep the shop open and operating due to daylight strategies, which includes the Daylighting Systems,” notes Mike Estes. “We didn’t anticipate this benefit but we’re really happy to have this bonus.”
PHOTO: SOLATUBE INTERNATIONAL INC.

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A Roof is a Building Owner and Homeowner’s First Line of Defense in a Storm

The Midwest has been battered by unrelenting storms this year. Last week, I spoke to a friend who had just returned from visiting mutual college friends in Minnesota. They experienced a strong storm during the visit, and while they were all sleeping, our friends’ house was struck by lightning. The acrid smell of smoke awoke them and the eight people (four of which were children) scurried outside in their pajamas, leaving all their belongings inside. The local fire department contained the fire to the garage, which is attached to the house. However, the smoke damage inside is so severe that the family of four is currently residing in a hotel while their house is professionally cleaned.

Stories like these are all too common recently and this one hit a little too close to home for me. It seems easier (and less scary) to think storm damage won’t happen to me when those who are affected are strangers on the news. However, according the Alexandria, Va.-based Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of America Inc., extreme-weather events and natural disasters are becoming more prevalent. The organization reports that since 1987 there have been eight natural disasters with insured losses greater than $1 billion; before 1987, there was one.

Although the Greensburg, Kan., EF5 tornado that occurred in 2007 didn’t cost that much, it destroyed 95 percent of the town, which is scary enough. Greensburg is coming back as a model for the rest of the country—rebuilding stronger and more sustainably. Read about one of the town’s strong, sustainable projects—the BTI-Greensburg John Deere Dealership, which is a metal building featuring roof-integrated daylighting systems designed to withstand high-velocity impacts—in “Tech Point”.

About 550 miles to the east, an EF4 tornado inflicted $30 million in damage on the Lambert-St. Louis International Airport in 2011. To rebuild four copper domes that were the crowning glory of Terminal 1, airport officials opted to use copper-clad stainless steel, specifically because they wanted something beautiful that could withstand harsh weather. Read about the roof system in “Tech Point”.

The other night, a clap of thunder actually shook my house for what seemed like a full minute. I’ve always been the type of person that enjoys storms but, after my friends’ incident, I have to admit I feel less safe in my home. I immediately looked online to determine whether I should move to the basement and then I stayed awake until the storm passed to ensure my roof didn’t catch on fire. I think it’s time I look into a better, stronger roof.

RICOWI Seeks Speakers for 2016 Seminars

The Roofing Industry Committee on Weather Issues (RICOWI), Clinton, Ohio, is committed to providing in-depth and comprehensive education to identify and address important technical issues related to the cause of wind and weather damage to roofing systems. RICOWI’s research and education initiatives focus on providing a broad knowledge base regarding wind, hail, energy efficiency and durability effects; establishing new/improved consensus standard practices for weather design and testing; and providing an educational platform of roof design and weather concepts within the building community.

RICOWI is currently seeking speakers for its 2016 Seminars. This is your opportunity to showcase your research, lessons learned in the field and educate others about the effects of weather on roofing systems.

The seminars’ audience consists of architects/engineers, consultants, building owners/facility managers, manufacturers, distributors, foremen, superintendents, project managers, roofing contractors, code bodies and the insurance industry. Eight 45-minute education sessions will be chosen related to the following potential presentation topics:

  • Weather Damage Case Studies
  • Lessons Learned in the Field after Weather Events
  • Innovative Roofing Solutions to Wind and Hail Issues
  • Sustainable Roofing
  • Green Building Codes for Roofing
  • Design Details
  • Mitigation and Loss Prevention
  • Edge Metal
  • Maintenance and Repair Solutions
  • Green Detail
  • Secondary Details
  • Weather Modeling and Predictability
  • Fasteners and Fastening Systems
  • Above-sheathing Ventilation
  • Lightweight Concrete
  • Research and Development

RICOWI’s audience prefers presentations that are:

  • Timely and will have an impact on the industry.
  • Innovative solutions to problems.
  • Forward looking to potential industry issues and threats.
  • How-to classes that stimulate and provide attendees with a new skill, technology or process.
  • Stimulating and cutting-edge for the construction and roofing industry.
  • Proposals for a better understanding of processes and techniques.
  • Solid research and data from case studies.
  • Upcoming research.

Presenters should have strong speaking experience and in-depth knowledge of subject matter presented. Topics should be related to the audience and not generic in nature and should not be product pitches.

Submission forms with abstracts should be submitted no later than June 15, 2015, to the RICOWI offices. The forms are available online. The RICOWI Conference and Education Committee will review, and authors will be notified regarding the selection of an abstract by Sept. 1, 2015. Once accepted, authors for the Spring 2016 seminar will be required to have bios and finalized abstracts in by Nov. 1, 2015, for the preliminary agenda publication on the RICOWI website and for distribution. All presentations and handouts will be due from presenters no later than Feb. 15, 2016.

If you have questions regarding RICOWI’s Call for Abstracts, contact Joan Cook, RICOWI’s executive director, at (330) 671-4569, or email jcook@ricowi.com.

U-Anchor Solar Attachment System Withstands Hurricane

The U-Anchor 2000 has withstood another blast of hurricane force winds. The 800 kW Trina solar power generation system was secured to a Carlisle TPO roof membrane in a hybrid system, consisting of U-Anchor 2000 attachments and ballast solar racking on top of the Westin Dawn Beach Resort & Spa in St. Maarten. The system provides solar electric power to 317 guestrooms, restaurants, restrooms, laundry facilities and the spa.

The hurricane slammed into St. Maarten on Oct. 13 with no damage to the rooftop attachments and only minor debris-blown damage to the solar panels. Surrounding homes and boats were destroyed and the community’s water and power utilities reported outages. The solar electric power at the resort remained uninterrupted.

Hurricane Gonzalo was the second time the U-Anchor’s held a rooftop solar project securely in place while hurricane force winds blasted a rooftop solar project. U-Anchors shield a project on a large factory roof in Yonkers, New York, from 90 mph wind gusts during Superstorm Sandy in October 2012. Anchor Products completed the project in partnership with Sollega, Inc., which provided the ballasted racking portion of the hybrid system.

Anchor Products, LLC is the manufacturer of the U-Anchor 2000 patented rooftop solar attachment products for the attachment of solar equipment and accessories to ridged and flexible film roof membranes. When properly installed, the U-Anchor can withstand approximately 1,000 lbs of ultimate load force in tension, and approximately 2,000 lbs of ultimate load force in shear.

U-Anchor 200 can be used on ballasted or non-penetrating designs. U-Anchors maintain the roofing manufacturer’s warranty and can be quickly installed at a rate of 12 per man hour. U-Anchor 2000 and all of Anchor Products rooftop attachments come with an industry standard material warranty.

The U-Anchor line of products can also attach mechanical equipment, electrical conduit, plumbing pipes, HVAC ducting, satellite dishes, windscreens, lightning protection and antennas, among many others.

Commercial Roofs Will Be More Difficult and Expensive to Insure

Early in the evening hours of June 12, 2014, Abilene, Texas, was hit by a hailstorm that covered approximately 40 percent of the town.

Early in the evening hours of June 12, 2014, Abilene, Texas, was hit by a hailstorm that covered approximately 40 percent of the town.

Early in the evening hours of June 12, 2014, Abilene, Texas, was hit by a hailstorm that covered approximately 40 percent of the town. What made the storm unusual was the size of the hailstones combined with the intensity and duration of the storm. Hailstones varied in size from 2 to well over 6 inches and fell for more than 23 minutes. Most of the stones were frozen rock-hard; some pieces formed when two to three mid-size hailstones froze together.

Some residents reported multiple deck and ceiling punctures with several homeowners reporting stones that penetrated deck and ceiling to smash flat-screen TVs. The damage covered most of the downtown business district; Hardin Simmons and Abilene Christian universities; and a large regional hospital complex, including outlying medical and laboratory facilities. Auto damage was severe and widespread, exacerbated by the large number of visitors gathered downtown for a popular monthly event. There were a few injuries, but no deaths, other than some animals at the local zoo. Initial damage estimates topped $400 million, a sizeable amount for a town of 100,000.

Hailstorms are not unknown in our area though not as common as might be assumed. Since I have been in the roofing business, we have had damaging hails in 1967, 1973, 1988, 2011 and 2014. Our company, now in its 124th year, did not keep records of storms prior to 1967. It has been my experience that no two storms are alike, each taking on a life of its own with regard to how the insurance industry reacts. The last several years, Texas has had major storms in a number of areas, including Amarillo, the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, Austin and Rio Grande Valley. In these areas, roof claims litigation has exponentially increased, driven by a cottage industry of public adjusters, roof consultants, restoration contractors and attorneys, all making a business of inserting themselves between the insurance carrier and the building owner/policy holder. While there can be legitimate need for all these people at times, it does appear some may have crossed the ethical line to shake down insurance carriers with inflated claim demands.

The last several years, Texas has had major storms in a number of areas, including Amarillo, the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, Austin and Rio Grande Valley.

The last several years, Texas has had major storms in a number of areas, including Amarillo, the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex, Austin and Rio Grande Valley.

We experienced a little of this activity during our 2011 hail, but it was limited because the hail coverage area included few commercial properties. I was personally aware of several claims made in areas where there was no hail and the damages claimed far exceeded the value of the building.

In response to these perceived abuses, the insurance industry in 2014 has become much more aggressive in its claims handling, especially with gravel-surfaced built-up roofs. Gravel-surfaced roofs remain a significant portion of the roof inventory in this market. Adjusters have been paying for modified bitumen and metal roofing without too much argument. But, since the June hail, we have looked at dozens of buildings with gravel-surfaced roofs that, in our opinion, should be total losses, only to have the adjuster, who is often only vaguely familiar with gravel roofing balk at paying and call in consulting engineers to take sample cuts for lab analysis.

So far, it appears that in the absence of multiple punctures, the assumption is that there is no damage—or at least damage short of a total loss.

So far, it appears that in the absence of multiple punctures, the assumption by adjusters is that there is no damage—or at least damage short of a total loss.

My roofing intuition suggests this activity is a prelude to claims denial. So far, it appears that in the absence of multiple punctures, the assumption is that there is no damage—or at least damage short of a total loss. I can understand the adjuster’s desire to have incontrovertible evidence to base his payment or denial decision, but my experience as a contractor suggests that lab analysis is not foolproof. Some of the tests are based on theories that are at least debatable. The public adjusters and restoration industry have their own labs and tests to compete with the carriers. Regardless of tests, my experience as a contractor suggests that a built-up roof, even with gravel surfacing, is no match for a 20-minute pounding of baseball-sized hail. It is my hope that our industry does not devolve into an adversarial system, which pits dueling laboratories and experts into the claims process.

My suspicion is that it will become much more difficult and expensive to insure commercial roofing, with limits on coverage, much higher deductibles and more specific language to define what is damage. The real loser will be the building owner, forced to assume a much larger portion of the risk.

PHOTOS: JERRY SIEWERT

Against the Wind

The city of Moore, Okla., recognizes it cannot keep doing things the way they’ve always been done. You may recall on May 20, 2013, an EF5 tornado did extensive damage to the town. The new residential construction codes are based on research and damage evaluation by Chris Ramseyer and Lisa Holliday, civil engineers who were part of the National Science Foundation Rapid Response team that evaluated residential structural damage after the May 2013 tornado.

“A home is deconstructed by a tornado, starting with the breaching of the garage door,” Ramseyer explains. “The uplift generated by the wind causes the roof to collapse until the pressure pulls the building apart. These new residential building codes could possibly prevent that in the future.”

The new codes require roof sheathing, hurricane clips or framing anchors, continuous plywood bracing and windresistant garage doors. Moore’s new homes are required to withstand winds up to 135 mph rather than the standard 90 mph.

Although the city of Moore deserves to be commended for passing a more stringent building code less than one year after the 2013 tornado, this wasn’t the first damaging tornadic event Moore had experienced. The town also made national headlines in 1999 when it was hit by what was then considered the deadliest tornado since 1971. Moore also was damaged by tornadoes in 1998, 2003 and 2010. In my opinion, it was time for the Moore City Council to do the right thing by its citizens.

As extreme weather events occur more frequently, more emphasis is being placed on commercial roof wind resistance, as well. Robb Davis, P.E., recently attended a continuing-education conference for civil/structural engineers that discussed changes in the 2012 International Building Code and the referenced ASCE 7-10 “Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures”. During the seminar, it became clear to Davis that nobody is specifically responsible for the design of wind loading to rooftop equipment as defined in the IBC and Chapter 29 of ASCE 7-10. Therefore, Davis reached out to Roofing because he believes it’s important roofing professionals understand the code requirements for wind loading to rooftop equipment, how the load is determined and applied, and how the load is transferred to the building structure. Davis shares his insight in “Tech Point”.

As Davis points out in his article, by better understanding wind loads on rooftop equipment, roofing professionals will be even better positioned to lead the design and construction industry in creating more resilient roofs and, ultimately, strengthening the structure and protecting the people underneath.

A Slate Roofer Shares Slate’s History in and Benefits for the Carolinas

Although slate had been used as ballast for ships crossing the Atlantic as early as the mid-1600s, its use was somewhat sparse in the Carolinas until after the great fire. With the Civil War in full bloom, a catastrophic fire broke out in Charleston in 1861, and the city was decimated. However, the Great Reconstruction Era (1865-77) brought shiploads of slate and bricks from North Wales. Welsh slate from the Penrhyn quarries and bricks and tiles from Flintshire and Chester made their way to nearby Liverpool, England, and ultimately to the historic Battery of Charleston.

Not to be outdone, the American quarries started to ship to the Carolinas also. New quarries opened up all along the New York and Vermont corridor, and, in the South, the Virginia Buckingham Co. started quarrying slate in 1867. Slate roofing was growing exponentially at this time, and the Carolinas were consuming it at a very rapid rate.

This dormer features Vermont Black installed in a German style.

This dormer features Vermont Black installed in a German style.

As a large port city, Charleston was able to acquire a wealth of different types of slate for its roofs: purple and gray slates from Penrhyn, Wales; Pennsylvania black slates; lustrous black Buckingham slates from Virginia; and greens, purples and reds from Vermont. Although it took more than a decade, Charleston was rebuilt in a grand manner with beautiful slate roofs as far as the eye could see.

Unfortunately, in 1989 Hurricane Hugo struck Charleston, causing nearly $6 billion in damage. The silver lining was many of these historic properties with slate roofs were 100 to 200 years old by 1989 and were in need of major restoration. From 1989-91, Charleston experienced a huge building boom with the insurance companies footing the bill for the restoration of the city. Tradespeople skilled in historic restoration were called in from all over the country and world. Among them were slate roofers hired to assess and restore the city’s slate roofs.

Learning Experience

Having only been a slate roofer for four years at the time, Charleston proved to be a great learning experience for me. Often working 12- to 15-hour days to keep up with the workload, I was able to personally observe various slating techniques from more than a century ago.

For example, still one of the most unique slate roofs I’ve encountered in my 20-plus years in slate roofing, was on a private residence on King Street. It had sustained minimal damage, and in the process of our repairs, we could see why. The entire slate roof was laid in a bed of mortar with wooden pegs where one usually finds nails. Needless to say, it was quite an adventure to restore it back to its prominence.

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