Metal Roofs vs. Weather: Retrofit Metal Roofs Hold Up on North Carolina Schools

My granddad had a barn with a red metal roof. When I was a kid, many years ago, I remember being in this barn when it rained. The sound was melodic and would almost put you to sleep. I never saw granddad patch this roof. I never saw him replace this roof. When it rained, the roof kept the hay dry. Life was simple then.

We are now in the21st century, and granddad’s barn has been gone since the middle 1980s. But I think we can still capture the magic of that old roof today. It is possible to recreate the simplicity and efficiency of that sloped metal roof for our public buildings, especially our public schools. Let’s look at a few examples of how sloped metal roofs were successfully used in the school retrofit market— not only keeping out rain and snow but holding tight during high-wind events.

North Windy Ridge Elementary School
North Windy Ridge Elementary School is located in Buncombe County. When the school was built, a metal roof was specified. Unfortunately, the roofing process was not completed properly—shop drawings were not followed—and the metal roof had persistent leaks. After a lawsuit was filed against the original roofing contractor in 2008, the school board hired an engineer to produce a set of engineering plans and specifications necessary to re-cover the original 100,000-square-foot metal roof with a new metal roof. Dick Canon with Canon Consulting & Engineering, Moore, S.C., prepared a set of bid documents that utilized a structural framing member from Odessa, Fla.-based Roof Hugger Inc. placed directly over the existing metal roof. The new metal panel system attached to this framing system was supplied by MBCI, Houston. The cavity between the two roofs was adequately ventilated to eliminate the possibility of condensation within this space. After being constructed per the contract documents and being monitored for conformance with these documents throughout the project, the owner had the metal roof it had originally expected. This retrofit metal roof has been leak-free during the turbulent winds and excessive snow loads experienced by all roofs in mountainous regions since its installation in 2009.

North Lincoln High School
A project similar to the North Windy Ridge project was bid and completed in 2010 for the North Lincoln High School facility, Lincoln County, N.C. The original metal roof had not been installed per shop drawings and had faulty workmanship. Instead of abandoning the use of a metal roof, the owner hired Canon Consulting & Engineering to provide a set of contract documents necessary for bidding. Again, Dick Canon specified a Roof Hugger structural system placed directly over the existing metal roof as a substrate for a new standing-seam metal
roof system from MBCI. Darrell Gettys, North Lincoln High School’s maintenance director, reported at the November 2010 board meeting that the school finally had the metal roof it originally anticipated: The 221,000-square-foot facility has experienced no leaks since it was installed more than one year ago. The strong winds spawned from severe thunderstorms and sporadic tornadoes seen in the spring of 2011 swirled by this facility with no damage to the new structural retrofit metal roof. I should note there was nothing wrong with the original design, contract documents or materials for these projects that would have required replacing the original panels. Unfortunately, in both cases the culprit was lack of attention to the installation details and procedures. Like all other roof systems, a proper design must be matched with proper installation and inspections throughout the project.

Davidson County Schools
In spring 2010, Davidson County Schools received bids for its 19th, 20th and 21st metal retrofit roofs. These three roofs total more than 135,000 square feet. The school system’s first metal retrofit roof was installed in 1989, and more than 1 million square feet of retrofit metal roofs have been installed since then. All except two of these roofs have utilized a lightgauge framing system that created a minimum of 1/2:12 slope over an existing flat roof. The three projects bid together in 2010 were for Midway Elementary School, Lexington, N.C.; Welcome Elementary School, Lexington; and Stoner-Thomas Elementary School, Lexington, and were engineered by Bilger Engineering, Raleigh, N.C. The roofing contractor was LaFave’s Construction Co. Inc., Landis, N.C. LaFave’s Construction has performed the majority of the retrofit work for Davidson County Schools since 2004. With the retrofit framing and roofing approach, a flat roof with a top membrane that had deteriorated with exposure to the exterior elements is replaced with a metal roof panel that is expected to last more than 45 years. In addition, because the metal roof requires positive drainage created by the sloped sub-framing, any water on the roof immediately is forced off of the roof at perimeters. Davidson County now has three more retrofit metal roofs that will provide the same structural resistance to wind loads and weather barrier to the elements. Like my granddad’s barn, water off of the roof can’t get into the hay.

Mabel Elementary School
The final example of a successful retrofit metal roof application is the addition of a light-gauge framing system over a sloped shingled roof, which then was covered with a metal roof panel system. This approach was used for Mabel Elementary School, Watauga County, N.C. At this school, shingles were installed when the building was built, approximately 18 years earlier. The 54,000-square-foot roof had multiple intersections, hips, valleys and ridges that made it difficult to get the shingles to seal. In addition, the school sits on top of one of the highest areas of the Appalachian Mountains and receives significant snow starting in late October and lasting until early April each year. These factors had caused the shingled roof system to leak for most of the years of its existence. Attaching a 4-inch steel purlin system directly to the existing roof joists created an acceptable platform for a standing seam metal roof to be installed. An additional 6 inches of unfaced fiberglass insulation was placed between the two roofs adding an R-value of 19 to the existing roof’s R-value. The design work was performed by Metal Roof Consultants Inc., Cary, N.C., with contracting work completed by Lafave’s Construction. Work was finished in late October 2010, and the first snowfall occurred a few days later. The roof resisted the onslaught of several feet of snow and the spring thaw without a leak for the first time since the school was constructed. It hopefully did not put the kids to but it sure kept the “hay” dry!

Retrofit Simplicity
Although retrofit metal roofing may sound complicated, it is based on simple concepts which can yield a roof that will last as long as the brick in the walls and the concrete in the floors. This simplicity allows the engineer to be able to depend on structurally sound information concerning wind loading and live loading, as well as code and industry accepted metal roof systems’ structural capacities, on which
to base the design. In addition there are time-tested installation principles on which the professional contractor can depend. When put together to satisfy a school’s need to replace an existing roof, they can create a roof with a low life-cycle cost. My granddad had an eighth-grade education but he understood the benefits associated with a sloped metal roof and built his barn using this type of roof more than 90 years ago. The same basic principles—creating slope to get the water off the roof and using a metal roof material that will last many years—are used today to satisfy the needs of our public school systems throughout the country and especially in the Carolinas. I wonder whether granddad knew that what he determined to be the best roofing choice to keep his hay dry would be used extensively by school districts to do the same for our next generation.

Chuck Howard is president of Metal Roof Consultants Inc., Cary, N.C., and a member of Carolinas Roofing’s editorial advisory board. Licensed as a professional engineer in 12 states, he has provided his services to design, construct, consult or defend metal roofs in the field or in the courtroom. He can be reached at chuck@metalroofconsultants.net, www.metalroofconsultants.net or (919) 465-1782.

Retrofit by Raising The Roof

Winchester is located in eastern Indiana, close to the Ohio border. It is a farming and light manufacturing area where the same families have lived for generations. It is a proud community, where people go to church together, help each other in times of need, and go to high school sports and band competitions with passion and pride that transcends gender and politics.  It is the kind of community where everybody knows everyone else, and fundamental values and differences are few. A flat and leaking roof at the high school made an impact that split this quiet community and caused actions and words that have seldom been witnessed before.

During 2007 it became obvious that another patch on the classroom wing of the high school was again failing.  The students and teachers were coexisting in an interior environment that was wet, humid, and had a very distinctive and repulsive smell.  The school board, working hard to solve this problem, solicited advice from a conventional roof trade association that works primarily with flat roofs, and an architectural firm that also specialized in flat roof work.  In January 2008, the have seldom been witnessed before.

During 2007 it became obvious that another patch on the classroom wing of the high school was again failing. The students and teachers were coexisting in an interior environment that was wet, humid and had a very distinctive and repulsive smell. The school board, working hard to solve this problem, solicited advice from a conventional roof trade association that works primarily with flat roofs, and an architectural firm that also specialized in flat roof work. In January 2008, the board elected to proceed with the architectural firm to design and have constructed another flat roof on the high school. That decision did not sit well with many in the community. Further research by the school board uncovered the possibility of constructing a slight slope over the existing flat roof and adding a metal standing seam roof system. This possibility was introduced at the February board meeting, which started a heated debate, pitting proponents of flat roof retrofit against sloped metal retrofit. It was quoted in the local paper, The News Gazettethat “each side accused the other of only hearing what they want to hear …” By the time the March meeting came around, there had been a protest by the students refusing to occupy the classroom wing due to the leaks and smell, and, as reported by The News Gazette, “approximately 200 parents and students” attended the board meeting because “they were angry over the roof.” By the end of the meeting the architect hired to provide the flat roof design had left the meeting and indicated that he did not wish to proceed with such a contract.

On March 31, 2008 Metal Roof Consultants was asked to attend a special board meeting to present a sloped metal retrofit roof alternative for the school’s roof woes. A visit to the site generated information and pictures for a PowerPoint presentation. This presentation, concerning a metal retrofit roof possibility, was presented to approximately 100 parents, teachers, students and, of course, board members. The concept of not removing the old roof, but allowing it to dry out naturally in the dry and vented cavity created by the metal retrofit process made common sense to those in attendance. There had not been time to “dazzle” those in attendance with technical facts about the structural characteristics of this system, the many colors they had to choose from or the massive energy benefits inherent with this type of roof system. However, they did hear about a concept that would allow them to permanently solve their continuing roof problems with a tried and true system that would probably be the last roof for this building. All in attendance, including the board members, applauded after the presentation as a sign of relief they could finally all agree upon a positive direction for a permanent solution to Winchester high school’s roof. MRC was awarded a contract to prepare the design, drawings and specifications for such a roof and procure bids for its construction. The community was united and at peace again.

Dr. Greg Hinshaw assumed his responsibilities as the new superintendent of the school system on July 1, 2008. He inherited a commitment to proceed with putting a sloped metal retrofit roof on the high school, but no money for construction. Through his diligent efforts, loan money was procured from the state of Indiana, and the project was bid in September 2008. The low bidder was Smarrelli Construction of Richmond, Ind., and MBCI was approved as the supplier of the metal materials required for the 108,000 SF project. MBCI provided the final design and material package; using their NuRoof system and BattenLok HS roof panels. The contract price was approximately $1.6 million, which was slightly less than the original architect’s estimate for the removal and replacement of the existing flat roof system with another flat roof system. Work began in December 2008 and was finished in October 2009.

The retrofit metal roofing system consisted of leaving the existing roof in place, which allowed school to continue while the new roofing system was installed. It also eliminated the need to remove the existing roof, with the need to dump these used materials in the local landfill. It has been estimated that approximately 15 percent of all landfill materials consists of non-recyclable roofing materials. With the metal alternative, these materials remain in place, thereby being kind to our environment. In addition to leaving these materials, 6 inches of un-faced fiberglass insulation was installed directly over the existing roof. This material not only raised the insulating value of the roof by approximately 640 percent (R-3.5 to R-22.5), thus saving energy costs, it allowed the existing roof to “breathe” and release its moisture content through the glass insulation into the ventilated air in the new roof cavity and expelled from the cavity through vents at the high sides of the roofs. The new roof panel, even though painted a bronze color, utilized Energy Star paint additives that created a “cool roof” reflecting approximately 80 percent of the solar heat back into the atmosphere and not into the building. All of these benefits of the metal roof make this roof an extremely “green” roof, reducing the carbon footprint of the building and saving precious energy dollars.

In addition to the energy benefits of the metal retrofit roof, the materials should last the remaining lifetime of the school building. The painted roof system, while guaranteed for 20 years, should provide 50 to 60 years of service with no maintenance other that checking the roof periodically to insure that no external damage (tree limbs, ice damage, etc.) has occurred. And of course, since metal is not negatively affected by ultraviolet rays, the metal surface will not break down from the suns affect. And, of course, the new metal retrofit roof does not leak! It is guaranteed for a minimum of 20 years to not leak. Since the materials will last much longer, the guarantee period is merely the beginning of the time the school system should expect the roof to provide protection.

What do the superintendent, Dr. Hinshaw and principal Tom Osborn, have to say about their metal retrofit roof experience?

Tom Osborn, Principal of Winchester High School: “In the spring of 2008 the flat roof of our 42-year-old building suffered substantial problems. Leaks became overwhelming. The roof on the section of the building that houses the academic programs failed to the extent that several halls were lined with trash cans to catch the constant drips caused by spring rains and the thawing of ice and snow. As the roof and ceiling became saturated, the humidity level grew inside the building. Students were relocated to other rooms as another cold patch was applied to stop the water penetration. There was serious doubt, however, about whether any amount of repair work could save the roof and whether the old roof would ever dry out even if it could be made waterproof again.

Metal Roof Consultants was hired to lead the school corporation through the process of installing a standing seam metal roof later that spring. Construction progress was steady throughout the 2008-2009 school year. MRC; the general contractor, Smarrelli’s of Richmond, IN; and the staff of Randolph Central worked together in a cooperative collegial manner. MRC provided us with a design that is attractive as well as weather tight. The ventilation system helped quickly dry out the old roof even to the point that extra insulation has been added to the attic cavity to help the HVAC system. Our 42-year-old building now has a professional new appearance that has helped return pride in our facility to the community, staff and students. There is new feeling of optimism and Randolph Central again has a building that we believe can safely and efficiently serve the youth of our schools for many years to come. I can sincerely say the final product has far exceeded the expectations of anyone who was here at WCHS in March of 2008! We are very pleased with our decision to undertake this project and install a standing seam roof.”

Gregory P. Hinshaw, Superintendent of Schools, Randolph Central School Corp.: “The need for roof replacement at Winchester Community High School was, by far, the most pressing issue when I became superintendent in the summer of 2008. Fortunately, the school board had already employed Metal Roof Consultants to engineer a new roof and construction began in the fall. The new roof has totally changed the exterior appearance of the building and our students, faculty and public have all been very supportive of the process. The retrofit roof has improved the appearance, environment and energy management of the building. We are very pleased with the project.”

Metal retrofit roofing has restored the peace in Winchester, Ind. Through diligent efforts by the all involved in the school system, they now have an attractive, energy efficient and long lasting roof system that will continue to serve their district for many decades to come.

Now they can get back to academics, church, sports, band………

 

Retrofit: Do it Right The First Time

When John Martindale, President of Brothers Services Company, Baltimore, Md., wanted to expand his market in the local area, he looked into the commercial metal retrofit market. Having been a very successful and large residential contractor for years, he felt he needed to diversify into this market.

His first step was to attend the 2003 METALCON International convention held in Tampa, Fla. He attended a seminar that described the basics of the metal retrofit roof market. I was fortunate to be presenting this seminar and even more fortunate to meet John after the seminar, which led to an ongoing professional relationship. It was obvious from the start of this relationship he was acutely interested in entering this attractive market in a manner that would make sure Brothers would “do it right the first time.”

While not every step has been totally flawless the first time, his insistence on making the customer’s finished product right the first time has always prevailed. Their most recent finished project, Orleans Court Condominiums, located in Ocean City, Md., is a prime example of this philosophy and is the example to be used to demonstrate how there is really only one way to construct a metal retrofit roof: “Do it right the first time.”

School re-roofing

This story starts at the Virginia School Board Convention in November 2006. A school board member, like most do, proclaimed he did not understand why school roofs were designed and constructed with a predominately flat profile. His opinion was that to re-roof a flat roof, without adding pitch and a metal roof, was a travesty and their school board was determined not to allow that to continue. He asked us to contact Blake Giddens at Restoration Engineering, Inc., since his firm provided most of the roof engineering services to their district. That contact yielded no positive information about an upcoming school project, but, instead, an interest in converting a flat roof on a condominium in Ocean City, Md., to a sloped, painted, aluminum roof. Blake indicated he was somewhat aware of the concept of adding slope to a flat roof, but was asking for whatever advise and suggestions we might have in order for him to provide a design that was “right the first time.” Of course he could have prepared a loosely put together specification, generic plan and hoped a contractor would be capable of filling in the design holes, but he, instead, was very receptive to engineering and detailing that was proven effective over time.

REI provided a full set of detailed plans and specifications that accurately depicted his expectation for the metal retrofit roof. Included in his specifications, was the requirement the contractor prepare a set of engineered shop drawings showing how his basic design concept would be satisfied by the contractor’s approach and materials. BSC was fortunate to be selected out of three bidders to construct the metal retrofit roof.

The bid stage was “done right” and yielded a competent contractor, skilled and experienced in metal retrofit roofing. After a proper contract was executed, the contractor began the design process.

Over the years everyone has seen good and bad attempts at providing shop drawings. The “bad” ones use standard details pasted together to yield a patch-work of drawings and details, none of which truly depict the actual conditions of the particular roof. The “good” ones actually measure the existing roof, perform wind design load calculations, perform fastener pull tests from the existing structural components and provide a set of scaled drawings and details that truly describe how the metal retrofit roof is to be applied to the existing flat roof.

The second approach is more time consuming and costly, but was the only way to “do it right the first time.” On this particular project, BSC knew this was the only way to proceed.

First the new roof needed to be properly designed. ASCE-7-05 was used to determine the wind speeds and corresponding wind uplift loads in all specific areas of the new metal roof. That is the critical foundation for any roof project, but, unfortunately, is one often given little importance. A mistake here could have devastating effects in the future. Need I say: “Do it right the first time?”

During the design process, materials needed to be selected. The coastal environment called for an aluminum roof and galvanized steel sub-framing members. An Englert S2500 aluminum panel (.040-inch), with a Kynar-based paint system was selected to be placed on an MBCI, 16 gauge galvanized, sub-framing system. The ASTM E-1592 uplift tests for the Englert panel was obtained to determine where clip supports were necessary, then appropriate framing was designed to adequately transmit the wind design loads into the existing building structure.

Normally a light-gauge banding system would have been utilized to stabilize the new sloped roof structure, but 16 gauge angles were used instead to further add stiffness to the framing system which might have to withstand 120 mph coastal winds. In addition, the owner wished to add a 7-foot roof overhang over the decks of the top units, in order to provide shade. While the structural members were designed to cantilever over this space, exterior columns were added by agreement of the owner, REI, and BSC. This addition, was a little “belts & suspenders,” but assured all involved we would not ever have to worry about the coastal winds disturbing this condition. We didn’t want to come back later, but, rather, “do it right the first time.”

Now, some 14 months after that board member stop at the booth in Virginia, we had located a willing owner with a need, a very capable engineer to create a bid and contract package, a contractor willing to do the work for a set price and a finished design and needed materials selected. All that had to be done now is to put it all together!

The project was started on January 14, 2008 and completed June 20, 2008. An experienced subcontractor was retained to lead the construction activity, with BSC employees working with them to accomplish the needed work.
Critical to this process was BSC’s project manager, Phil Lisak. Although this was his first metal retrofit roof project of this complexity, Phil provided the necessary controls on material procurement and scheduling, as well as monitoring the progress of the work. This vital part of the construction puzzle is often overlooked. It is sometimes assumed a well designed project, with a qualified crew, will always produce a good final product. Unfortunately, metal roof construction is not that simple. Phil proved to be up to the many challenges associated with this job, including one of the most important: motivating the men to perform quality work. That required him to know what the shop drawings were depicting, as well as having the tenacity to make sure things were put where they were supposed to be.

At the same time, the men needed to be motivated to perform the work in an efficient and effective manner. The driving force for him was to get the roof components installed as they were designed and “do it right the first time.” With only a few minor exceptions, that was accomplished.

The majority of roof lawsuits in the metal roofing industry are caused by faulty installations. The main reason a project does not make the margins expected is attributed to faulty installations and a lot of re-work dollars spent. Phil did an excellent job of working with the men to ensure there was no faulty workmanship. And the final results: zero punch-list in late July after a walk-through with Blake Giddens! Great job, Phil.

Conclusion

In summary, there are eight major components that make up a well planned and executed metal retrofit roof project:

1. A building owner that understands the long term benefits of converting a flat roof that leaks into a sloped one that doesn’t.
2. A competent design professional providing a detailed set of bid and contract drawings.
3. An experienced metal roof contractor, with experience in metal retrofit roofing.
4. A set of engineered shop drawings based on ASCE 7-05 wind uplift calculations and ASTM E-1592 metal panel wind uplift testing provided by the contractor. These need to be prepared by a licensed professional engineer with experience in this area.
5. Materials which are appropriate for the specific design.
6. Installers who are well qualified in this type of work and who understand the concept portrayed in the shop drawings.
7. A project manager capable of motivating the work force to produce a quality product in a specified amount of time.
8. Most importantly, doing all of the above “right the first time.”

There you have it. From John Martindale wanting to make sure his company “did it right the first time” by attending METALCON in 2003, to his company insisting the Orleans Court Condominium project was designed and installed “right the first time.”

The metal retrofit roof market provides a great opportunity for companies like BSC that believe in this, but also provides great risks for those that do not. Make sure you are one of the contractors that are successful and “do it right the first time.”

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Metal Retrofit Roofs for Schools: AN EDUCATED CHOICE

“Isn’t there someway that we can pitch our old school roofs to eliminate the leaking problems? We have been told that it is too expensive to slope our flat roofs, but we know that we have a continuous expense to maintain our flat roofs. Can you help us?” Over the past 20 years I have heard this plea from frustrated school officials. The answers are simple. Yes, you can convert your flat roofs to sloped roofs. No, it not too expensive. And, yes, there is help to accomplish this much wanted remedy.

The Problem: Flat Roofs
Every school system in the United States has had problem flat roofs. By far the majority of the school structures built for the “baby boomer” generation in the 50’s and 60’s utilize a flat roof construction. This type of construction holds water on the surface of the roof, requiring the top membrane to be completely impervious to the infiltration of water through its surface. Whenever this membrane wears out, splits, or is punctured the infiltration process starts. As anyone with a flat roof will testify, once this infiltration process starts, the integrity of the roof membrane, especially with a flat roof, rapidly decreases. It can therefore be adequately defined that the problem with flat school roofs are that they are: 1) flat and 2) constructed from a membrane that is vulnerable to the elements. A study performed by the Ohio Department of Education indicated that over 20 percent of the local school’s budgets associated with buildings and grounds were spent on roof repair, maintenance, and replacement. This category accounted for the highest percentage of all categories surveyed. Similar studies have shown that this situation exists throughout the school systems of the United States. It cannot be appreciably improved while the majority of our school roofs remain flat.

The Solution: Metal Retrofit Roofs
With the problem being that school roofs are flat, it is obvious that the solution to this problem is to pitch the old flat roofs. To make this process even more successful, the use of metal standing seam roofs on these sloped surfaces allows them to last many times longer than other common roofing materials.
Life cycle costing indicates that the least expensive roof system that can be used is a sloped metal standing seam system. A study done by American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) indicated that a sloped standing seam metal roof system was the lowest cost roofing system out of eight surveyed, over a twenty year period.
In the school market, almost all of the structures are expected to last considerably more than twenty years. The conclusion is that the sloped standing seam metal roof is the least expensive alternative for schools today.
There are many different systems available today to turn flat roofs into pitched metal roofs. The good news, therefore, is that there is a solution available to the frustrated school official who has been paying for leaking flat roofs.

Metal Retrofit Roofs–Three (3) Steps to Success
Converting flat roofs to sloped metal roofs involves three (3) basic steps. They are as follows:

1. Analyze the existing roof – Analyze the condition of the existing roof. If minor flashing and/or membrane repair will not yield long term results, a slope conversion process is in order. If the existing structure appears to be adequately supporting the existing flat and ponded roof, it should be adequate to support the new sloped metal roof system and associated framing. While this preliminary assumption will need to be verified by a licensed professional engineer, the original structure is normally capable of the increased dead loads (approximately 2.25 psf).

2. Add slope to the flat roof – The slope conversion process is accomplished by installing a light gage steel sub-framing system. This system is designed to collect the required design loads and transfer them to the existing structure. Again, this analysis needs to be performed by a licensed professional engineer in order to insure that the new composite structure can resist the design loads. The composite structure consists of the existing roof structure plus the new retrofit framing system. It is critical that the two (2) systems perform as one system after the conversion process is complete.

3. Install a metal standing seam roof system –
After slope has been created for the roof component of the building envelope, install a structural standing seam roof system, utilizing a concealed fastener system to attach the roof panels to the sub-framing. The roof panels should be at least 24 gage steel panels utilizing a GALVALUME® substrate. This coating system has been in the roofing market since 1972 and actual field tests show it lasting well beyond its warranted life of 20 years. In addition, factory coil-coated paints can be applied over the Galvalume® substrate to add color to the new roof. These coating systems, also, have been performing in field conditions well beyond their normal warranted life of 20 years.

In conjunction with the three (3) step metal retrofit roofing process, several other elements of the existing flat roof can be positively altered. First, unfaced blanket insulation can be installed on top of the existing roof membrane prior to the installation of the new metal roof membrane. This insulation can dramatically alter the energy consumption of the building by providing a much warmer “hat” for that building. Next, the cavity created between the old roof and the new roof will be ventilated. This ventilation process will allow the existing roof membrane to dry without, in most cases, the costly and risky process of removing this roof while the building is being occupied. In addition, ventilation of the cavity will not allow heat build-up in the summer and condensation in the winter. Working together, this better insulated and ventilated cavity will greatly reduce heat gain and/or loss through the roof. This benefit, alone, many times allows the metal retrofit roof system to pay for itself within 10 to 15 years.

The Source for Help

Now that you have determined that the cost and problems associated with maintaining a flat roof are outweighed by the benefits of converting it to a sloped metal roof, where do you get help? If there are not readily identifiable metal roof retrofit contractors in your area, contact a reputable metal roof manufacturing firm for names of contractors that have experience in this type of roof system. Make sure that the manufacturer supports a contractor base that is required to be trained by the manufacturer prior to weathertightness warranties being issued. Once a local contractor(s) is located, ask him to meet with you and see your roof. He will, at little or no cost to you, let you know how a metal retrofit roof can be installed over your existing flat roof, and the costs associated with such a project. This will allow you to make budgeting decisions and arrange for necessary funding. Since most school capital projects require public bidding, a design professional will need to be hired to produce plans, specifications, and bid documents. Ask the contractor for a list of local architects and/or engineers that are familiar with metal retrofit roofing. This process of involving the contractor prior to hiring a design professional will allow you to make basic financial decisions before committing to design costs.

Metal Retrofit Roofs; The Educated Choice
The use of metal retrofit roofs allows school districts to end their prolonged costs and aggravations associated with flat roofs. It allows the flat-roofed buildings to undergo a transformation into a sloped-roof building. These new roofs can be either low sloped “functional” roofs or high pitched “architectural” roofs, depending on the expectations of the owner. Both, however, eliminate the ponding condition that has continued to accelerate the roof membrane deterioration and leaking potential of the existing roof throughout the years. This new roof configuration will allow the owner to enjoy a roof system that will last well beyond its 20 year warranties. In addition, added insulation will allow the entire new roof to pay for itself within that same warranty period, making the roof system not only preferable, but, also, yielding a net life cost of zero. Your existing flat roofs can be converted to sloped roofs. You now have the tools to make such a process happen. It is your building. Make an educated choice.

For more information about the many aspects of the metal retrofit roofing market for schools, contact Chuck Howard with Metal Roof Consultants (MRC) at (919) 465-1762. You can also get information about MRC www.metalroofconsultants.net.

Winchester High School – A Retrofit Success Story

Winchester, Indiana is located in eastern Indiana, close to the Ohio border. It is a farming and light manufacturing area where the same families have lived for generations. It is a proud community, where people go to church together, help each other in times of need, and go to high school sports and band competitions with passion and pride that transcends gender and politics. It is the kind of community where everybody knows everyone else, and fundamental values and differences are few. A flat and leaking roof at the high school made an impact that split this quiet community and caused actions and words that have seldom been witnessed before.

During 2007 it became obvious that another patch on the classroom wing of the high school was again failing. The students and teachers were coexisting in an interior environment that was wet, humid, and had a very distinctive and repulsive smell. The school board, working hard to solve this problem, solicited advice from a conventional roof trade association that works primarily with flat roofs, and an architectural firm that also specialized in flat roof work. In January 2008, the board elected to proceed with the architectural firm to design and have constructed another flat roof on the high school. That decision did not sit well with many in the community. Further research by the school board uncovered the possibility of constructing a slight slope over the existing flat roof and adding a metal standing seam roof system. This possibility was introduced at the February board meeting, which started a heated debate, pitting proponents of flat roof retrofit against sloped metal retrofit. It was quoted in the local paper, The News Gazette that “each side accused the other of only hearing what they want to hear…” By the time the March meeting came around, there had been a protest by the students refusing to occupy the classroom wing due to the leaks and smell, and, as reported by The News Gazette, “approximately 200 parents and students” attended the board meeting because “they were angry over the roof.” By the end of the meeting the architect hired to provide the flat roof design had left the meeting and indicated that he did not wish to proceed with such a contract.

On March 31, 2008 Metal Roof Consultants (MRC) was asked to attend a special board meeting to present a sloped metal retrofit roof alternative for the school’s roof woes. A visit to the site generated information and pictures for a PowerPoint presentation. This presentation, concerning a metal retrofit roof possibility, was presented to approximately 100 parents, teachers, students, and, of course, board members. The concept of not removing the old roof, but allowing it to dry out naturally in the dry and vented cavity created by the metal retrofit process made common sense to those in attendance. There had not been time to “dazzle” those in attendance with technical facts about the structural characteristics of this system, the many colors they had to choose from, or the massive energy benefits inherent with this type of roof system. However, they did hear about a concept that would allow them to permanently solve their continuing roof problems with a tried and true system that would probably be the last roof for this building. All in attendance, including the board members, applauded after the presentation as a sign of relief that they could finally all agree upon a positive direction for a permanent solution to Winchester high school’s roof. MRC was awarded a contract to prepare the design, drawings, and specifications for such a roof and procure bids for its construction. The community was united and at peace again.

Dr. Greg Hinshaw assumed his responsibilities as the new superintendent of the school system on July 1, 2008. He inherited a commitment to proceed with putting a sloped metal retrofit roof on the high school, but no money for construction. Through his diligent efforts, loan money was procured from the state of Indiana, and the project was bid in September 2008. The low bidder was Smarrelli Construction of Richmond, Indiana and MBCI was approved as the supplier of the metal materials required for the 108,000 SF project. MBCI provided the final design and material package; using their NuRoof system and BattenLok HS roof panels. The contract price was approximately $1.6 million, which was slightly less than the original architect’s estimate for the removal and replacement of the existing flat roof system with another flat roof system. Work began in December 2008 and will finished in October 2009.

The retrofit metal roofing system consisted of leaving the existing roof in place, which allowed school to continue while the new roofing system was installed. It also eliminated the need to remove the existing roof, with the need to dump these used materials in the local landfill. It has been estimated that approximately 15% of all landfill materials consists of non-recyclable roofing materials. With the metal alternative, these materials remain in place, thereby being kind to our environment. In addition to leaving these materials, 6” of un-faced fiberglass insulation was installed directly over the existing roof. This material not only raised the insulating value of the roof by approximately 640% (R-3.5 to R-22.5), thus saving energy costs, it allowed the existing roof to “breathe” and release its moisture content through the glass insulation into the ventilated air in the new roof cavity and expelled from the cavity through vents at the high sides of the roofs. The new roof panel, even though painted a bronze color, utilized Energy Star paint additives that created a “cool roof” reflecting approximately 80% of the solar heat back into the atmosphere and not into the building. All of these benefits of the metal roof make this roof an extremely “green” roof, reducing the carbon footprint of the building and saving precious energy dollars.

In addition to the energy benefits of the metal retrofit roof, the materials should last the remaining lifetime of the school building. The painted roof system, while guaranteed for twenty (20) years, should provide 50 to 60 years of service with no maintenance other that checking the roof periodically to insure that no external damage (tree limbs, ice damage, etc.) has occurred. And of course, since metal is not negatively affected by ultraviolet rays, the metal surface will not break down from the suns affect. And, of course, the new metal retrofit roof does not leak! It is guaranteed for a minimum of twenty (20) years to not leak. Since the materials will last much longer, the guarantee period is merely the beginning of the time the school system should expect the roof to provide protection.

What do the superintendent, Dr. Hinshaw, and the principal, Tom Osborn, have to say about their metal retrofit roof experience?
Tom Osborn, Principal of Winchester High School:

“In the spring of 2008 the flat roof of our 42 year old building suffered substantial problems. Leaks became overwhelming. The roof on the section of the building that houses the academic programs failed to the extent that several halls were lined with trash cans to catch the constant drips caused by spring rains and the thawing of ice and snow. As the roof and ceiling became saturated, the humidity level grew inside the building. Students were relocated to other rooms as another cold patch was applied to stop the water penetration. There was serious doubt, however, about whether any amount of repair work could save the roof and whether the old roof would ever dry out even if it could be made waterproof again.

Metal Roof Consultants (MRC) was hired to lead the school corporation through the process of installing a standing seam metal roof later that spring. Construction progress was steady throughout the 2008-2009 school year. MRC; the general contractor, Smarrelli’s of Richmond, IN; and the staff of Randolph Central worked together in a cooperative collegial manner. MRC provided us with a design that is attractive as well as weather tight. The ventilation system helped quickly dry out the old roof even to the point that extra insulation has been added to the attic cavity to help the HVAC system. Our 42 year old building now has a professional new appearance that has helped return pride in our facility to the community, staff and students. There is new feeling of optimism and Randolph Central again has a building that we believe can safely and efficiently serve the youth of our schools for many years to come. I can sincerely say that the final product has far exceeded the expectations of anyone who was here at WCHS in March of 2008! We are very pleased with our decision to undertake this project and install a standing seam roof.”

Gregory P. Hinshaw, Superintendent of Schools, Randolph Central School Corp.:

“The need for roof replacement at Winchester Community High School was, by far, the most pressing issue when I became superintendent in the summer of 2008. Fortunately, the school board had already employed Metal Roof Consultants to engineer a new roof, and construction began in the fall. The new roof has totally changed the exterior appearance of the building, and our students, faculty, and public have all been very supportive of the process. The retrofit roof has improved the appearance, environment, and energy management of the building. We are very pleased with the project.”

Metal retrofit roofing has restored the peace in Winchester, Indiana. Through diligent efforts by the all involved in the school system, they now have an attractive, energy efficient, and long lasting roof system that will continue to serve their district for many decades to come. Now they can get back to academics, church, sports, band………

Author’s Comment: It has been a pleasure, as President of MRC, to assist the Randolph Central School Corporation with the metal retrofit roof on the Winchester High School building. I applaud the board members, superintendent and principal in their diligence and cooperative approach to solving their roofing problem.

MRC can be contacted at (919) 465-1762 or at chuck@metalroofconsultants.net for further information concerning this project of metal retrofit roofs in general. Chuck Howard, PE