Critical Review

June 1, 1998
When managing schools, whether they are K-12 facilities or a university campus, administrators must deal with three critical facility-maintenance factors--roofing,

When managing schools, whether they are K-12 facilities or a university campus, administrators must deal with three critical facility-maintenance factors--roofing, exterior wall systems and below-grade structures that are impacted by use, weather and the level of maintenance received. These specific building components are not readily visible and usually receive attention only after moisture and water penetration have created serious problems.

Unless these systems, along with HVAC, mechanical, electrical and other systems, are routinely inspected and maintained, by the time serious moisture damage occurs, the structural integrity of the building could be impaired. At that point, costs for repairs or replacement usually are excessive.

One way to prevent these potentially high repair costs is to implement a roof-maintenance program, which should be part of a comprehensive assessment of all building components.

Assessing conditions The argument for conducting comprehensive facility-condition assessments of all school systems or campus structures is basic--comprehensive data collection facilitates the early detection and remediation of minor and major problems. Proper analysis will show the cause and effect of component-system interaction. This early detection of problems can prevent total system breakdowns and costly equipment replacement.

If a problem that cannot be attributed to the system is detected in a mechanical or electrical system, and water or moisture is found, a roof, exterior wall or below-grade waterproofing failure may be the source of the problem.

Keep in mind that the roof or exterior-wall system may not show visible evidence of moisture or water penetration. However, a comprehensive forensic evaluation of the roof, walls and below-grade waterproofing, using core sampling and non-destructive moisture testing, usually will uncover the location and cause of water penetration. It also will unveil the route the water or moisture took back to the mechanical- or electrical-system area.

Establishing priorities Building-condition assessments provide the facility manager with the data to develop a critical priorities list. This comprehensive buildings-systems information provides a management tool for securing and managing limited financial and staff resources.

In many cases, the availability of this information prevents unanticipated crisis situations that typically result in the depletion of limited resources, causing other important programs to be postponed or eliminated.

Although some education institutions have access to substantial capital and maintenance budgets, most facility managers are asked to do more with less resources. Therefore, it is vital to require contractors and suppliers to provide value engineering, life-cycle costing, cooperative purchasing and seasonal contracting of future work that is based on current material and labor prices.

Today, with the vast amount of information available from numerous sources, there is no reason for facility managers to make less than well-informed purchasing decisions. When investigating roofing-system designs and materials, the selection process should include thorough research and be based on performance-based procurement standards.

Managing roofing systems The primary reason for including roofing systems in a comprehensive facility asset-management program is to protect the capital investment and maximize the return on investment. The premature failure of a roof system may require an entire new roof, including the costs for removing and disposing of the old roof.

Furthermore, damage from a failed roof, exterior wall or below-grade waterproofing system seldom occurs in a vacuum. Other interior and exterior building-component systems may be damaged, along with office equipment, supplies, etc. Due to damage and repair activities, the building may be taken out of service, creating additional costs.

Neglecting any key management function can result in reducing the life of a roof system and have a negative impact on other building-component systems. Five key elements should receive critical attention in the management of roof systems, including: *Roof-system analysis/evaluation. A comprehensive evaluation of the roof system will identify the number and severity of deficiencies that are not associated with normal wear. Also, it will identify the condition of roof-system components relative to the warranties. This evaluation provides photo documentation of maintenance work performed and provides the data needed to evaluate repair and replacement options, with cost-analysis alternatives.

*Testing. Various destructive and non-destructive testing methods should be used as needed to provide data required to confirm the expert visual analysis of the roof system. These include random core sampling, which will determine the presence of moisture in insulation systems; moisture-absorption tests; infrared moisture surveys of substrate material; moisture analysis of substrate material to determine the presence of asbestos and other hazardous materials; wind uplift fastener pullout and adhesion tests; air monitoring; and air and water-infiltration tests.

*Roof-system design. The roof evaluation provides a comprehensive picture of the system, its present condition and the degree to which it has performed. The analysis gives the roof consultant and facility manager a benchmark from which they can determine what type of roof repair or replacement is most appropriate. An assessment of the roof's projected life and its actual performance will influence the selection of a replacement roof system, the installation design and materials to be used. Selecting the correct roofing- system materials and installation method is critical.

*Roofing contractor selection. When selecting a roofing contractor, ensure that the firm is experienced with all the materials to be used, as well as properly trained and certified by the manufacturer to install the system. The design also must take into account constructability, insurance-code compliance and the insurance underwriter's design standards, initial construction costs and long-term maintenance costs.

Once these factors have been addressed, develop detailed plans and technical specifications along with other construction data needed to facilitate preparation of a comprehensive set of bid documents. The objective is to attract the most qualified, experienced and dedicated roofing contractors available. A complete and detailed set of bid documents should result in the elimination of less-qualified bidders.

During the design and construction phases, conduct a comprehensive review of manufacturer's and subcontractor's shop drawings and related data. Also, review anticipated maintenance requirements and warranties. Based on facility requirements and qualified resources available, additional construction-administration support services can be secured from professional facility asset-management consultants.

*Construction-phase monitoring. This process allows facility managers to catch mistakes and ensure that the proper materials have been delivered on schedule to the job site; the design specifications and manufacturer's shop drawing are accurate, are being properly executed and are in compliance with warranties; and that the contractor is installing the roof system correctly, following all design details, local code requirements and proper safety guidelines.

If proper construction methods or installation details are not being followed, a monitor/inspector can stop the work, enacting corrective measures to move the project back on track. In most cases, it is more cost effective to have a monitor/inspector on the job site for the duration of the construction/installation process.

Maintaining the program Although the availability of financial resources determines an institution's ability to launch a roofing-management program, the lack of funds does not negate the need to monitor the roofing systems and other building-component systems. Even with limited budgets, most schools can find the resources to retain qualified consultants to conduct yearly roofing inspections, as part of a structured roof-maintenance program. It is less costly to fix minor leaks, damaged flashing or clogged drainage systems than it is to replace part or all of a roofing system or mechanical system destroyed by undetected storm damage. The preventive remediation resulting from annual roof inspections will more than compensate for the costs, and should include:

*Determining the inspection cycle. Conduct roof inspections at least twice each year. Schedule the first inspection in early spring to identify any damage caused by winter weather. Then, schedule repairs during late spring and early summer. Schedule the second inspection in the early fall, and schedule any repair work to be completed before winter. Finally, inspect the roof following severe weather any time of the year, particularly after strong winds, hail or snowstorms.

*Roof maintenance schedule. Along with the identification of specific roof-system damage, annual inspections can be designed to yield equally important information about the roofs and other building components that interact with roofing systems. Since most roofs and other building systems do not break down in a predictable manner, regular inspections help identify the needs in those areas that have the highest degree of deterioration.

With the additional information provided by an established inspection schedule, the facility manager can develop a more meaningful and comprehensive maintenance program. Along with warranty and equipment-manufacturer maintenance procedures, the manager has information about repairs that need to be performed before affected roof sections or systems wear out.

*Roof security. For many schools and universities, roof security--keeping unauthorized persons off of roofs--is a serious problem. Again, with limited resources, it is a problem that frequently goes unaddressed. The damage caused by vandalism and the debris left on roof areas by school maintenance, HVAC, telecommunications and other repair personnel seriously impacts maintenance budgets. Facilitymanagers should restrict access to roof areas with security gates and locks on ladders and stairwells. Require outside maintenance personnel to check in and be escorted on and off roof areas.

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