Opinions on Roofing

Christina Koch, Editor in Chief of Carolinas Roofing magazine asked me to be on the advisory board of her magazine.  Since I enjoy writing articles about metal roofing, and having been in this industry for over 37 years, I immediately accepted her invitation.  Then she made the mistake of asking me to provide a “short opinion-based piece” for the upcoming issue.  Those that know me know that I always have an opinion!

Opinion #1Roofing is a great business!!!

I have been in the construction/roofing business since graduation from The Ohio State University Engineering School in 1973.  I graduated from the half of the class that made the top half possible.  I have had a blessed and productive life, complete with a wonderful wife of 37 years, two (2) great children, two (2) great spouses for my kids, and one (1) beautiful granddaughter.  The roofing business has allowed me to provide for my family well.  We haven’t missed any meals, even though we have gone through good and bad times.  I put my faith in this industry and it has not failed me.

Opinion #2 – Be passionate about your work.

My father told me to find a profession that I could be passionate about and it would take care of me for life.  I have followed that advice throughout my life, always being extremely passionate about the metal roofing market and its infinite potential, and it has never let me down.  If you are in the roofing industry only to make money, and you don’t have a deep passion for whatever area you are involved with, you will find the going very tough and inconsistent.  Find that niche in the market (mine is metal) and strive to be the best that you can be.  Not better that someone else, but the best you can be!  You will find that your personal rewards, including financial returns, will be proportional to your passion.

Opinion #3 – Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

Without being too “preachy”, I want to get the message across that every business as well as personal action should be weighed against this paraphrased Bible verse.  Treating your employees, customers, and family like you would like to be treated will give you a sense of peace that permeates your very soul.  You can be proud and humble at the same time and earn the respect of those around you, while at the same time being extremely productive in all of your business ventures.

Opinion #4 – Make the world a better place than you found it.

Through your involvement in the roofing industry, contribute to a better business and personal climate around you.  If we all did that, the whole world could be changed for the better.  Take care of the way you lead your life and your little piece of the world will be better.  You cannot change the whole picture, but you can change your piece for the better of the whole.  As a mentor of mine told me years ago, “Don’t take yourself too seriously”.  Take care of what has been given to you to effect, and make it better than you found it.

I look forward to contributing to Carolinas Roofing magazine in the months and years to come and will always welcome comments (good and bad) from anyone.  The best way to communicate with me is via email at chuck@metalroofconsultants.net.

Okay, now we will see if Christina asks for my opinion again!

Metal Roofing Over Metal Roofing

When the large warehouse and industrial metal building roofs of the 1950’s and 1960’s started to fail, including one of his own, one of the true pioneers in the metal building industry, “Red” McConnohie, recognized a problem needing attention. “Red” set out to develop a system that allowed a new metal roof to be installed without the cost and liability of removing the existing roof. He knew others had used hat sections attached to the major ribs, but that approach depended on the new roof loads being transferred into the existing structure through only the old skin of the existing metal roof. Engineering reviews of that method proved it to be inadequate for wind load transfer.

A structurally sound, long term solution for metal roofs was needed. Whoever knows “Red” also knows that he is not one to give up when there is no obvious answer to a question and soon enough he determined that a “Notched Zee” was going to be the best solution. This modified purlin would span over the ribs and rest firmly on the flat portion of the existing roof panel allowing the fasteners to go directly through the base flange of the zee and old panel, and into the existing structure. Thus was born the Roof Hugger system which has been in use since 1991.

As we all know, what can be devised in plan does not always work in the “real world”. This method of reroofing an existing metal roof with a new metal roof, without having to remove the existing roof, however, is one of those plans that work. The obvious benefits are as follows:

1. No need to remove the existing roof panels, exposing the interior to the outside elements.
2. No interior space contamination from air borne particles such as dust, dirt, rust, etc. caused by the roof removal.
3. No need to remove existing roof insulation. Additional insulation can be added between the old and new roof, improving existing energy performance.
4. Edge and corner conditions, per ASCE 7, require higher wind uplift resistance than was originally designed. The Roof Hugger system can be designed to meet these new code requirements. This design work must be performed by a licensed professional engineer in the state where the system is to be installed. The professional will identify the loads per the applicable code, review the panel system capacities and check the framing system to insure each element will adequately perform its’ structural task.
5. Roof Huggers can significantly increase the existing sub-structural support system, as well as structural rigidity.
6. Many of the old metal roofs that need replacing were attached by “through fastening” directly into the metal panel surface. Over many years of expansion and contraction, these fasteners were either loosened or created an elongated hole in the surface of the metal panel. Conditions that allowed water to infiltrate the weathering surface. Part of the retrofit process is to choose a new metal roof panel system. Today’s standing seam roof systems are attached by concealed clips and provide uplift resistance while being able to slide up and/or down slope as the panel expands and contracts, eliminating this panel trauma.
7. Many first generation paint systems on the original metal roof allowed the finished surface to chalk, fade, or peel excessively. Today’s roofs can be permanently replaced by a new roof panels with Kynar or equal based paint systems field proven to last 35 years and more.

Examples of how the Roof Hugger system has been used throughout the USA are as varied as their locations. Three (3) such case studies, showing the benefits of how this system can yield a new modern metal roof system, are as follows:

Printing press facility – Mobile, Alabama
a. It was determined that the panel clip spacing for a metal roof installed about 2000 was deficient. After serious consideration of options how to correct this problem, including the possibility of removing the existing roof and replacing it with another metal roof, it was determined to use a Roof Hugger system and install a new metal roof system. The owner’s architect was concerned about the cavity between the roofs being conducive to condensation formation, which was solved by filling this cavity completely with un-faced fiberglass insulation. In addition, because the clip spacings were so random, many of the edge and corner conditions had insufficient attachment points and/or incorrect attachment spacings. With the use of the roof Hugger system, these conditions were corrected by locating the new sub-structural members where needed to yield the proper spacings. All work was done without adversely affecting the continual printing processes inside the building.
b. The contractor for this project was Keith Moseley Construction, Saraland, Alabama.

Fish hatchery building – Coastal Maryland
a. This project entailed an old metal building roof constructed in the mid 1970’s. The existing roof system was attached to the building purlins by “through fastening” the panels at the purlin locations. These fasteners, over the years, had loosened in some places and caused elongated holes at the eaves.
b. The high humidity inside the building had, over the many years, permeated the interior vinyl vapor barrier enough to allow back-side condensation on the original panels. Several of the panels were deteriorating from the inside-out. Attempting to remove this insulation and metal panels would have resulted in a large amount of particulates falling into the fishery tanks below. The existing roof purlins were tested to determine that no appreciable deterioration of the top leg, necessary for proper fastener pull-out resistance, had occurred. Leaving these materials intact, and installing an exterior Roof Hugger system and a new metal panel system, allowed the project to proceed without negatively affecting the building’s interior operations.
c. The contractor for this project was Brothers Services Company, Hampstead, MD.

Middle School in central North Carolina
a. While this school system initially wanted to remove the sloped metal roof systems due to faulty paint, they opted to allow the existing roof panels to remain while a Roof Hugger system was installed, along with a new “concealed fastener” metal roof system. Since the original metal roof was not insulated, allowing condensation on the interior surface, new un-faced insulation was added in the cavity. The resultant new composite envelope had an R value that exceeded 20 as opposed to less than 2 prior to the retrofit. Of course, the new metal panels came with a 20 year guaranteed Kynar based paint system.
b. The contractor for this project was LaFave’s Construction, Landis, NC.
“Red” definitely knew what he was doing when he developed his engineered Roof Hugger system. It has proven to be an extremely effective solution to reroofing the millions of SF of warehouse and industrial metal building roofs as well as allowing for a method to rectify faulty installations of current metal roofs. This method has a proven track record, with over 60 million SF of product in place, and should be considered whenever an existing metal roof requires retrofitting.

The author of this article, Chuck Howard, PE, was privileged to be involved with the case studies mentioned. He can be contacted at chuck@metalroofconsultants.net with any questions.

5 Keys to Successful Metal Roof Contracting – Key 2: Design

A metal roof is a structural and functional element of a building. It is certainly responsible to protect the interior contents from the exterior atmospheric elements, but it has to have the capacity to remain in place to provide this protection. As has been evidenced by the effects of hurricanes, tornadoes, etc. on metal roofs, their capacity to withstand such devastating forces is unequalled in the roofing industry. That reality, however, is dependent upon the metal roof being properly designed as well as installed per the design documents. The proper design of a metal roof system is the second key to having a successful metal roof contracting business, and will be discussed in this article.

In all metal roof applications, the contractor has an obligation to use the correct materials and the proper installation techniques and component locations to adequately transmit wind and other live loads into the supporting structure. An excuse of “I am just a roofer and not an engineer” carries no validity in a dispute and/or lawsuit. The contractor must familiarize himself with the local codes as well as the capabilities of the proposed metal roof system. Let’s discuss some of the ways that this can be accomplished.

In most areas, the effects of wind pressure on different portions of the installed roof surface are the most severe design loads to consider. The American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) has a publication that is accepted in the International Building Code (IBC) as the standard for determining these loads. The IBC is almost uniformly accepted by all states. The publication, ASCE – 7, Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures, clearly defines how you determine the various zones on the roof that have different design loads, along with the actual design loads that should be used. Chapter 6, Wind Loads, goes into great depth to show what wind speeds should be used, depending on the geographic location of the building. It also allows the designer to determine the dimensions and locations of the various wind zone areas within the plane of the roof. In addition, there are several variables that impose increasing factors and decreasing factors to the design load based on parameters such as surrounding topography, occupancy of the building, building height, etc. While a contractor should be very familiar with what is in Chapter 6 of the ASCE – 7, they should always retain a professional engineer familiar with the analysis of wind loads on roofs to perform the actual design calculations that are described in this document.

After the accepted design loads are determined for all zones of the roof, a metal roof system must be analyzed to determine if it can withstand these loads. The American Standard for Testing and Materials (ASTM) has developed a pressure testing procedure commonly referred to as an “air bag test”. This procedure applies uniform pressure from the bottom of the panel surface by introducing air into an airtight chamber and allowing pressure to form on the panel. This pressure produces forces on the panel that mirror actual wind pressure forces that would be introduced onto the panel system when wind blows over the roof. The actual procedure is labeled as an ASTM E-1592 test and yields actual design forces that the panel and its attachment components can withstand. Needless to say, the spacing of the attachment components greatly determines the capacity of the engineered metal roof system. The spacing of these attachment points, and the associated allowable design load capacity, are shown within the report.

The use of the ASCE – 7 design loads and the ASTM E-1592 metal panel system capacity will properly determine under what conditions a panel system can be used to resist the design loads for a particular roof. There is no excuse for not using these methods to insure that the proper metal roof system, along with the proper attachment methods, is used. Don’t even try to use the “I’m only a contractor……” statement.

In addition to the actual structural evaluation that must be done by a professional engineer, there are other, non-structural, design considerations to evaluate. Some of the most important are as follows:

Every metal roof must have positive drainage to eliminate the possibility of ponding water on the roof surface. This slope directs water to the building’s perimeter or internal gutter. The size of the guttering system, location of outlets, size of outlets, distribution of the water when it is introduced to the surrounding areas, etc. need to be taken into consideration when determining the proper performance of a metal roof system. Most manufacturers have design information about their gutter and downspout system’s capacity, and all building codes identify the amount of rain in a specific time-frame that is required to be accommodated.

Flashings and curbs
For the metal roof system to be useful for the building owner, it must not only remain structurally sound during design loading conditions, but also remain watertight. After all, that is why we need roofs! For that to be accomplished, the flashings that seal the roof to the walls must be design to withstand water intrusion. They must also be designed to accommodate the forces of thermal movement. Additionally, curbs must be integrated to the roof system in such a manner that they, too, will resist water penetration as the panel is transferring collected water to a lower location such as a gutter or exposed eave. Like the roof flashings, curbs must take panel expansion and contraction into account. As with the drainage design, the metal panel manufacturer will have standard details how their total roof system should be flashed and curbed. While this standard information is available, the contractor is responsible for determining the peculiar circumstances of each roof, and modifying these standards accordingly.

Insulation and condensation control
With the design and installation of every metal roof there is possibility of incorporating thermal insulation under the metal roof panel. The main purpose for this material is to separate the exterior temperatures from the building interior temperatures. Some basic design points are as follows:
• If a vapor barrier is required (and it is in all but a few cases), place it on the “warm” side of the insulation. Make sure the vapor barrier is sealed properly in the field application to prohibit interior air from coming into contact with the exterior metal skin.
• Fill all voids between the top of the insulation and the bottom of the metal panel with insulation. That includes the voids created at the ridge and hips. Left un-insulated, these areas are prone to condensation formation. If the voids cannot be completely filled, the cavity must be vented with outside air. Air movement of 3 to 5 times per hour is required to control condensation in most conditions.
• More insulation is not necessarily better. Usually after an R value of approximately 20 is attained, the return on investment of more insulation decreases quickly. Do not think that “If 6” of insulation is good, 12” is twice as good”. Do the calculations and use the correct amount of insulation.
• Insure that the proper insulation and vapor barrier are used for the design conditions. Consult with the metal panel manufacturer to insure that either product will not negatively affect the panel or its components.

If you got this far is this article you deserve a star on your hard hat! While the actual design associated with a metal roof system is not near as exciting as sales, not performing it properly will cause the metal roof contractor to create less than desirable results. Embrace the reality that, when done properly, a metal roof contract can yield financial results that are sustainable. Sustainable, in this context, means that you can keep your profits and not put them at risk of call backs or lawsuits. Proper design pays dividends, while improper or non-existent design makes the entire contracting organization vulnerable. Build your business on well thought out designs and watch your business prosper.

Please feel free to contact me at (919) 465-1762, email me at chuck@metalroofconsultants.net, or you can also get information at MRC’s website www.metalroofconsultants.net.

Old or Damaged Metal Roofing Need Replacing?

It’s hard to believe but the fledgling metal building industry I remember from the late 60’s thru the mid 80’s is now pushing 40 years old! The industry built a lot of buildings during that period, in excess of 18 billion Square feet by most accounts. Due to industrial demands at the time, the buildings grew larger and larger. We did not have the option to use a concealed, moveable clip until the mid 70’s, and expansion/contraction forces have played havoc with these large roofs. The large warehouse and industrial metal building roofs of this circa are starting to fail as you might expect. What are our options when we get to this point with a property?

If the building owner is fortunate, the building should have ongoing operations inside, critical storage materials, or tenants that we do not want to be disturbed while we make this required repair. Taking off the old roof and replacing it with a new metal roof, a typical solution, presents us with numerous costly risks we would rather not face.

A structurally sound, long term solution for metal roof replacement is required. This solution must allow for upgrades to higher wind zone requirements, newer panel systems with energy efficient reflective finishes, greater insulation, elimination of exposed fasteners, and added capacity to properly accommodate expansion and contraction. All this work needs to be performed without shutting down the ongoing operations and exposing building interiors to the elements.

In 1991, a product was developed and patented that satisfied this growing demand of re-roofing existing metal roof with new metal roofs, without removing the original roof. This product uses a “Notched Zee” product, as manufactured by Roof Hugger, Inc. (www.roofhugger.com), and provides the best solution for these conditions. This modified purlin spans over the existing panel ribs and rests firmly on the flat portion of the existing roof panel, allowing the fasteners to go directly through the base flange of the zee and old panel, and into the existing structure. It can be designed and manufactured to a definite height for job specific ventilation or insulation requirements.

As we all know, what can be devised in plan does not always work in the “real world”. This method of reroofing an existing metal roof with a new metal roof, without having to remove the existing roof, however, is one of those plans that actually does work. The obvious benefits are as follows:

1. No need to remove the existing roof panels, exposing the interior to the outside elements.
2. No interior space contamination from air borne particles such as dust, dirt, rust, etc. caused by the roof removal.
3. No need to remove existing roof insulation. Additional insulation can be added between the old and new roof, improving existing energy performance.
4. Edge and corner conditions, per ASCE 7, require higher wind uplift resistance than was originally designed. The Roof Hugger system can be designed to meet these new code requirements. This design work must be performed by a licensed professional engineer in the state where the system is to be installed. The professional will identify the loads per the applicable code, review the panel system capacities and check the framing system to insure each element will adequately perform its’ structural task.
5. The new roof section, consisting of the original building purlin or metal deck, the original roof system, the new structural Hugger attached to the structural elements of the original materials, and the new metal roof panel, is structurally stronger that the original metal components alone.

A Recent example of how this system works can be demonstrated by a project I designed and consulted on at a printing press facility in Mobile, Alabama. The following is an account of the project:

A hurricane had exposed the fact that there were some possible deficiencies in the design and/or installation of the metal roof system. Further investigation revealed that the panel clip spacing for a metal roof, installed about 2000, was extremely random and did not meet code at the time of its installation. After serious consideration of options how to correct this problem, including the possibility of removing the existing roof and replacing it with another metal roof, it was determined to use a Roof Hugger system and install a new metal roof system. The owner’s architect was concerned about the cavity between the roofs being conducive to condensation formation, which was solved by filling this cavity completely with un-faced fiberglass insulation. In addition, because the existing clip spacing’s were so random, many of the edge and corner conditions had insufficient attachment points and/or incorrect attachment spacings. With the use of this “Notched Purlin System”, these conditions were corrected by locating the new sub-structural members where needed to yield the proper spacings. All work was done without adversely affecting the continual 24 hour per day operation inside the building. The contractor for this project was Keith Moseley Construction, Saraland, Alabama.

The Roof Hugger System has proven to be an extremely effective solution to reroofing the millions of SF of older warehouse and industrial metal building roofs, as well as allowing for a method to rectify faulty installations of current metal roofs. This method has a proven track record, with over 50 million SF of product in place, and should be considered whenever an existing metal roof requires retrofitting. This is a structurally sound way to re-roof that metal roof, without having to go to the time and expense of removing it. Use this method to rejuvenate your metal building or metal roof and give your building and its occupant’s new life.

6 Steps To Business Success

This week I climbed through a roof hatch in an elementary school in eastern North Carolina.  On top, I found a flat, ballasted single ply roof that badly needed replacing.  The school district had retained Bill Bilger with Bilger Engineering to create a bid package to add pitch to this roof and add a metal standing seam roof.  They were tying into another metal roof that was over 20 years old.  Across the street was a metal roof I had done for them 16 years earlier.  I was surrounded by metal roofs and that was exciting to me.  As I stood on this roof, I reflected how blessed I have been to still get excited about being in the metal roofing market.

In a previous article I talked about the four (4) S’s of a person’s life and/or a business life that we all experience.  To refresh your memory they are: Survival, Stability, Success, and Significance.  Stop for a moment — Relax your mind — What moments come to mind?  Are you comfortable with the amount of “significant” moments that populate your thoughts, or, are your thoughts cluttered with details about survival, stability, and success? Are you excited about what you are doing now, or just in the survival mode?

I challenge you to GET EXCITED!!!! about your life and business career.

When we are young, we see ourselves as growing up to be firemen, cowboys, nurses, doctors, or others individuals who seem to lead exciting lives.  At that time in our lives, “exciting” is a word that we may not understand, but its meaning is the center of our young universe.  As we grow older and start to mature in worldly things, we put our thoughts on things like “responsibility” and ‘reason”.  When we actually enter the work force, responsibility completely overshadows our “exciting” days of our recent past.  We are taught that we should work hard to support ourselves and our families at a job where we can make enough money to enjoy basics like food and shelter (survival stage), while having enough left over to do some fun things on weekends and vacations (stability stage).  What happened to the “exciting” thoughts that dominated our lives a few years back?  Do we have no choice but to take the job that will support us and our families, even if it is not very exciting or interesting?  NO!!!!

When I was growing up, my father always told me to find something in life that excited me and then pursue it diligently.  I have been in the metal roofing business since 1973 and can say that I have always maintained a genuine excitement about the industry.  I have survived, become somewhat stable, attained a certain level of success, and hopefully have added a certain degree of significance to the industry.  Throughout my career, I have identified six (6) personal characteristics that have helped me to achieve all four S’s.  They are as follows:

1. Expect Success

Expect to succeed in everything you do.  That is not to say that you will always, or even most of the time, succeed.  It is to say, though, that you should enter every venture expecting to be successful.  Be as prepared as possible and see yourself accomplishing the task, project, or career.  It is extremely difficult to accomplish positive results if you are thinking of negative results.  “See” the ball clearing the water; the customer signing the contract; you and your spouse on the beach in St. Thomas.  Your chances of actually being successful increases exponentially with your positive attitude about its achievement.  Remember, success is a path and not a destination.  If you do not reach the level you expected, learn from the experience.  That in itself is being successful.

2. No Exit Plan

Never create an exit plan!  Only think about how you will accomplish your plan and what positive actions you will take.  As soon as you let an exit plan enter into your thinking, your mind tends to drift to that exit strategy whenever the going gets tough.  Concentrate all your energy on how you will succeed and how you will feel after your new success.  You have the ultimate choice on your actions.  If you spend your time and energy moving toward your exit plan, there will not be enough left over to insure success.

3. Set Your Own Bar

Determine what you want to accomplish – and the level of that accomplishment – based on your own feelings and expectations.  Set your own limits, and judge yourself on your own standards.  Unfortunately, the world imposes certain limits and minimums (financial ratios, hours worked, borrowing capacity, credit score, etc.), but you should view those as merely necessary to reach your own, and more important, limits.  Look inside yourself and set your own personal goals based on what you truly know you can do.  Do not let others establish those goals for you.  Believe in yourself and know that you can succeed in anything that you can believe in (a simple thought so eloquently expressed by Napoleon Hill many years ago).  Set your bar high and soar to clear it.

4. Don’t Ever Give Up

As the late Jimmy Valvano said in 1993, “Don’t ever, ever give up”.  It is always easy to blame others, the weather, lack of money, bad luck and many other excuses for not getting the results we expect.  The main reason for most failures, however, is just plain “giving up”.  It seems much easier to just stop when the tough times come (and they always come), but the truly successful person that is striving to make a significant difference does not give in to the seduction of failure.  If a dream is important to you – don’t ever give up on its fulfillment.

5. Develop Great People Skills

While this characteristic may seem rather mundane compared to the others, it may well be the most important.  Whatever your dreams and aspirations in life, you will have to be able to effectively communicate with and work in cooperation with other people.  We all need to be able to help each other in our individual quests for success.  To be able to give and receive the most help, you need to understand others points of views, while at the same time expressing your point of view in a non-threatening manner.  It is a skill that can be learned and it can definitely always be improved upon.  Practicing this characteristic is where you just might find the most significant moments.

6. Listen to Your “Force”:

I am a Christian and believe that there is a Divine spirit that flows through all mankind.  While you may have a different belief of where this “force” within you comes from, you all know that it exists.  It is deep within us all and is always there to guide us, if we are open to asking.  Find a quiet place.  Get quiet.  Relax your mind.  Listen to this internal “force”.  From the Star Wars movie; “Episode I. The Phantom Menace”, Luke Skywalker is told to “Concentrate on the moment.  Feel, don’t think.  Use your instincts”.  From Proverbs 3:5-6, New King James Version, we are told to “Trust in the Lord . . . and he shall direct your paths”.  The “force” is within us all.  Embrace it, listen to it, and you will find a direction and peace that will transcend all worldly problems.  It is something that is truly exciting.

It is always your choice.  You can choose to feel that you are doomed to take a life path that is dictated by circumstances and conditions beyond your control.  Or, you have the ability to find a career path, spouse, hobbies, and beliefs that you are truly excited about.  OK, now, GET EXCITED!!!

The Four S’s of Business and Life

At a recent men’s group meeting at my church, the leader of our fellowship spoke of the four (4) S’s of business and life.  Of course, I immediately thought he was speaking of structural standing seam surfaces, only to be amazed that all analogies do not automatically refer to metal roofing.  As he explained what the four (4) S’s were, I soon realized that these letters symbolized something much more meaningful that our beloved “tin roofs”.  They represent four (4) stages of a person’s or business’ life that should always be followed for the journey to be worth while.  Let’s explore these simple letters and see how they help define our life’s journey.

The first “S” stands for survival.  All of us start our many phases of our lives in a survival mode.  It is necessary to obtain the basics necessary to just exist.  In a business sense, this is when we realize that our sales budgets were too aggressive and our overhead budgets were too low.  We are just trying to survive in order to make payroll and pay rent one more time.  It is a very stressful time filled with doubt, but also conviction that we can adjust and accomplish enough right to at least survive.  All of our grand schemes and plans are reduced to the bare basics during this time, because we quickly realize the reality that survival must be obtained, before any further progress can be made.

The next “S” stands for stability.  After we have survived a personal or business “start-up”, we now strive to be able to stand on our own in a stable manner.  That means developing procedures, systems, and plans that will produce a positive and sustainable direction for your company and/or life path.  Without stability we live in chaos, without any purpose and expectation to consistently reach goals.

The third “S” stands for success.  Now this phase of our development is definitely the most deceiving.  We have the illusion that there is a place called success that we can reach.  It is imagined to be a place where we can rest and enjoy the fruits of all of our labors.  We work hard for this success, have glimpses of what we think might be success, and are continually disappointed that this place is extremely elusive.  I have heard success as being equated to a finish line in a race that is continually moving.  It is during this continual chasing of the moving finish line that we start to believe that we are pretty smart.  We know our trade by then and have had several successful conclusions to projects.  We start believing that we are in control of all elements of our lives and businesses and we can create this success.  We start cutting corners, treating our employees like employees and not business partners, and cannot understand why everyone does not immediately and without question embrace everything we say.  This success place becomes our false idol.  We struggle in this phase until, one day, we realize that success is a path and not a destination.  When we frame it that way, it is a worthwhile goal to find a success path.  One that will have all the turns, ups and downs, smooth and rough spots that any man-made road has.  However, if we put all of our dreams in obtaining a “success place”, the path will be very difficult and discouraging.  I have thought that I had achieved success, only to realize in a relatively short time that this illusion can quickly evaporate.

The final, and most important “S”, stands for significance.  This is by far the most important and lasting of the four (4) S’s.  Significance represents the things that we do that make a lasting effect on us and those that we touch.  Someone recently told me that we are doing something significant when we do something for someone that has no way to repay us.  It is helping another human in a way that makes a positive and lasting effect on them.  I received an email from a person that had worked for my company in the early 1980’s as a draftsman.  I did not remember him when I received the email.  He related how he considered me a mentor and explained in very precise detail the day he left and the encouraging words I had left with him.  He now has a very successful computer software business with offices throughout the USA and Canada.  The important part is not what I said or did, but that it had a profound effect on him in a way that helped him reach even greater heights.  On a note that will be understood by the readers of Metal Marketplace, think of the significance that Wally Schultz brought to the metal roofing industry and to each of us that was fortunate to know him personally.  That significance is and will continue to live on through all of us.

Throughout my personal life and business career I have had to fight for survival many times.  I have been fortunate enough to feel stable, if even for a seemingly fleeting moment.  I have created grand plans to attempt to achieve success, even though it has always seemed just one more job away.  I have had much fewer brushes with significance, but hold them much dearer that accomplishments associated with the other three (3) S’s.  My parents, wife and children have been significant to me.  I trust that I have honored that significance with actions that have been significant to them.  But more than anything, I try to be significant to everyone I meet in personal and business settings.  If I occasionally succeed, then I have obtained something much more that success.

What Green Means to Contractors

It was winter in Ohio in 1996. As winters go there, it was cold and wet. A small School district in the southeastern part of the state had nine flat roofs that were leaking badly and had less than 2 inches (51 mm) of wet insulation between the inside and outside of the building’s roofs. Like most schools in southern Ohio at that time, they were strapped for money to fix the roofs and pay their heating bills. But the children kept coming to school, and the district kept patching leaks and stretching their budget to pay their ever increasing electric and gas bills. They were not thinking about “green” roofs with the roofs’ great solar reflectance values. They were in a daily battle to keep these schools dry and warm, while at the same time the costs for these two basic needs were increasing. They were in a tough battle with no positive end in sight.

Enter a metal roofing contractor who stopped to see them because he heard the district had a flat roof problem. Of course, the maintenance personnel confi rmed that such a problem had existed almost since the buildings were put into service many years earlier. However (and all of you contractors know what came next), they were without available cash to permanently fix the roofs and would have to continue their “band-aid” approach of keeping them in as good condition as possible. Thanks for the call, anyway.

Without knowing he was acting in a “green” manner, however, the contractor suggested that the district consider a funding program established by the state that allowed the district to fund any building improvements that would 100 percent pay for themselves, including interest, within the guaranteed life of the improvements. He suggested the district consider adding pitch to their fl at roofs, add a low-slope Galvalume metal roof with 6 inches (1,168 m2) of added fi berglass insulation and replace the old lighting fixtures in the buildings with energy-efficient ones. The contractor put together a package that incorporated these improvements and prepared a life-cycle cost analysis that demonstrated the actual savings in roof maintenance and energy would actually pay for the cost of these improvements within less than half of the guaranteed life of 20 years. In addition, the contractor coordinated a loan with a local bank to provide the construction funding for this project with semi-annual payments made from the savings realized. In reality, the calculated savings were incorrect and the bank note was actually retired in less than five years. They had, and still have 12 years later, a sloped metal roof, with increased thermal values, that was ultimately free to the district. Now that is green!

Now, fast forward to 2008. Green metal roofs are in style and demand. Taking over $50 to fill a car’s gas tank and over $250 per month to heat even a medium-sized house is the norm today. In addition, and probably more important, mainly nonrenewable sources of energy are used to fuel both of these examples of consumption. Finally, after these fuel sources are used, they produce by-products that are harmful to our earth’s atmosphere. All these conditions have required all industries to look at ways to make products that are green. In the building envelope industry, that means they minimize their use of nonrenewable energy sources during production plus provide an installed product that minimizes the ongoing energy use of the building.

With respect to metal roofs, the manufacturers of these components have been actively and successfully testing and ultimately producing products that have been continually more energy efficient. The base products are almost 100 percent recyclable even though recycling is a very low probability for a properly installed metal roof. The introduction of Galvalume coatings in the early 1970s allows a carbon steel metal panel to remain protected and fully functioning for well over 45 years. During that time, the panel surface is reflecting over 80 percent of the sun’s rays away from the building interior. At about the same time, the paint industry started formulating paint systems that could come close to turning away about the same amount of the sun’s heat. Today, almost any metal roof panel, painted or Galvalume, is an excellent protecting barrier, allowing the interior atmosphere of the building to be controlled with much less energy.

Now think back to the small school district in Ohio that had a need for a long-lasting roof system with added insulation but did not even know their flat roofs could be converted to sloped metal roofs. It took a contractor, with engineering and practical contracting knowledge, to help this district see a way to solve their ever-increasing problem. All the design tools they used were readily available to them. All the products were also available. The contractor, however, was the one that had to be able to put these components together to solve the customers long term needs. Of course, he also had to have the capacity and experience to provide the necessary contracting services. He did, and the district selected a simple metal roof system that was certainly “green, but that terminology was known very little then. What they knew was their school children could now learn in a dry and warm environment. The contractor had shown them how to do this without using any of their current funds. As a bonus, these improvements saved the district more money, within five years, than they spent for the improvements. Other than changing light bulbs, there are no other annual costs. And the savings continue to grow for them today.

The contractor that incorporates the basics used to solve this school district’s problems in 1996 makes a signifi cant contribution to the customer, as well as providing valuable sales to their organization. That is what green means to a contractor. Use it.



Lawsuits – Avoid them!

After almost thirty (30) years operating as a metal roofing contractor, I am proud to say that I was never involved with a lawsuit relating to the construction of a metal roof.  Having installed over 22 million SF of them, I can personally attest that it was preferable for me to avoid them rather than engage them.  As a metal roof consultant, I have been involved with numerous metal roof “problem situations” that have either ended with a lawsuit or some type of monetary settlement between the parties.  This article will relate what conditions rise to a metal roof related lawsuit, and what steps can be taken to avoid them before that drastic step is taken.

First, let’s identify the possible parties that can get entwined in such a conflict.  They are as follows:

  • Building owner
  • Specifier (architect, engineer, consultant)
  • Manufacturer of the metal components
  • Contractor

Initially, these parties expect a favorable project from each or their individual perspectives.  The owner has decided that he wants a metal roof for his building; a specifier has been retained to design such a roof.  A contractor has made a conscious decision to prepare a bid for supplying and installing this roof, including making a profit and, finally, a manufacturer is selected by the contractor to furnish the metal materials necessary to perform the work.  Sounds like a win, win, win, win proposition.  Unfortunately, there are many ways that this process can become adversarial.  Let’s look at each of the participants in this process individually.

Building Owner

Just as we all make purchases, the owner has a responsibility to investigate the possibility of a metal roof satisfying his roofing needs.  That includes more than driving by an existing metal roof and falling in love with the color.  The configuration of the roof lines, the roof slope, possible roof-top unit’s locations, to name a few, need to be researched.  The owner may solicit the help of his preferred specifier at this time, as well as a local contractor and/or manufacturer.  The roof is a major aesthetic and functional component of the building envelope and deserves the owner’s attention.  Neglect at this decision stage does not allow the owner the right to recover from others involved with the design and construction of his roof.


The owner should engage a design professional or consultant to assist him with the metal roof design and specifications.  After all, this building element will be responsible to protect most of the other elements, as well as the building’s contents and occupants.  The owner should select this professional based on their experience and competence with the design of metal roof systems. After being selected to perform this design work, the specifier has the responsibility to investigate possible metal roof solutions, including their details, strengths, and weaknesses.  His charge is to select and design the correct metal roof system for this particular project.  In addition (and this is the single most important duty of the specifier), the specifier must inspect the work during construction to insure that the specified design is being followed.  The lack of attention of the specifier to this detail is the reason for the large majority of metal roof lawsuits.  Make sure that the correct panel, clip, fastener, and flashing details are used.  In addition, insure that the correct clip spacing is used.  And finally, physically inspect any place that the panel starts or stops (eaves, ridges, curbs, etc.).  Remember –Water will not go through metal; only through interruptions in the metal.  Insist that these “interruptions” are properly installed and sealed, and look to make sure it is done properly.


Warning!! If you are a contractor, heed this warning:  The large majority of metal roof conflicts are solved with the contractor’s money.  Don’t let this happen to you by practicing the following simple procedures:

  1. Understand the desires of the owner prior to giving him a price for a metal roof.  If you are not sure of his intent, ask questions.  Do not assume that his expectations are the same as your last customer’s.
  2. Prepare an in-depth estimate for the work and make sure that the owner and/or specifier understands what you intend to provide.  This may be done in proposal form or through formal shop drawings and submittals, but it needs to be done.  If there are any areas where you feel that you have made an interpretation that may be different from the specifications, take the time to bring this to the specifiers attention.  It is much preferred, as well as considerably less expensive, to discuss any differences before you buy materials or expend labor costs.
  3. Pay attention here!! – Insist that the metal roof gets installed in accordance with the specifications, shop drawings, and manufacturer’s details and instructions.  If this procedure would be followed for all metal roofs, the incidence of metal roof lawsuits would plummet dramatically.  More than anything else, the contractor must insure that his installers perform their function correctly.  It is the contractor’s responsibility and, therefore, his liability if the roof system fails to perform as expected.  If problems arise in the field, and they always do, correct them immediately.  While the cost factor might want to come into play during this decision period, the cost to fix it after the roof is finished is exponentially larger than “doing it right the first time”.
  4. Document all transactions associated with the metal roof contract.  If a problem occurs later, the first thing the lawyers and consultants look for is the paperwork for the project.  Invariably, the contractor has the least amount of acceptable correspondence, which puts him at a disadvantage from the start.  There are always discussions and negotiations surrounding every metal roof project.  Document the resolution of these situations, distribute them to all parties involved, and keep a record in the permanent job file.


The manufacturer is the most remote entity to the actual metal roof construction.  This industry has developed and tested various metal roof systems for over 70 years, and has systems that are time-tested and very functional, when installed per the manufacturer’s recommendations. Therein lays the vulnerability of the manufacturer.  Even though their warranties and material liabilities state that they cannot be responsible for deficiencies associated with the contractor’s erection procedures, the owner and specifier assume an implied responsibility since the manufacturer developed the finished product and erection procedures.  Some projects require several field inspections to determine the adherence to the published procedures, which greatly reduce the possibility of a faulty roof installation.  That , along with a strong requirement that the contractor obtain and maintain a working knowledge of the proper installation techniques, is the best assurance that a manufacturer can have that his materials will be installed in such a manner that they will perform as they were designed.  The closer that the manufacturer can stay with the contractor throughout the contract process, the better the chance for a successfully installed metal roof.

Lawsuits – Avoid them!

If all of the parties to a metal roof project listed above take the time to perform their work according to the simple steps described, they could all have expectations of a pleasant and lasting experience.  The reason for most metal roof lawsuits is not bad products or bad design, but, instead, bad follow-through.  If everyone involved does their part correctly, the cost and frustration of a lawsuit can be avoided.  That would be bad for my expert witness business, but good for my industry.  I’ll take the latter.

If you have a “problem” metal roof, please feel free to contact me at (919) 465-1762, or at chuck@metalroofconsultants.net.


The Soft Side of Metal Roofing

During 2004, this column was dedicated to explaining the components of the metal retrofit roofing market. In 2005 we devoted this column space to explaining “The Business of Metal Roofing”. That involved looking at the three main elements of this business – Owner, Contractor, and Manufacturer. This year, we will delve into the psychology, or “soft side”, of metal roofing. Don’t let that title scare you. I promise that we won’t need therapy due to engaging the theories associated within these articles.

When I was 8 years old I realized that I liked to play basketball. I then found that the more I played basketball, the better I got. I lived in Ohio at this time and basketball season was in the cold and snowy months of winter. The year was 1959 and there were no inside places to play, so you either had to live with playing during PE (that’s physical education, not professional engineer), or endure the winter climate. I was blessed by a father that erected a backboard and rim on the barn behind our house, paved the area directly in front of the barn, and even installed a spot light on our house to illuminate the backboard at night. I now had the desire to play basketball and was fortunate enough to have a father that provided the tools necessary to play as much as I wanted. Now, it was my turn to have a passion to play basketball greater than my desire for the “creature comforts” of being inside. Does this sound like many business scenarios that surround the metal roofing contractor?

We have all been to seminars, read books, listened to motivational speakers, bought tapes and CD’s, and generally inundated ourselves with all of the “How To” information concerning how to become successful in our careers. The problem with all of this information is that it does not become real in our lives until we internalize the message and pledge to do whatever work is necessary to accomplish the goals we envision. With respect to my early basketball aspirations, it was necessary for me to clothe myself with a heavy coat, gloves, boots, and a hat, find the snow shovel, and shovel snow from the area in front of the backboard. All this had to be done before I could practice and develop my skills. While I am sure it was not very comfortable for me, I don’t remember feeling the cold or aching muscles. I don’t remember the shots I missed, but know I missed many more that I made. I only remember the exhilaration I felt when one of those wobbly shots fell through the basket and I imagined that I had just won a game for Ohio State in the NCAA tournament final. Now, a great end to this story would be that this imagined shot was realized. Sorry, but my story takes on a more realistic one that uses these early lessons in turning dreams into reality to prepare myself for the life path that I was on. What I internalized from these early years is that you must allow yourself to dream, enlist as many resources as you can, create a plan for success, and then be passionate about executing that plan.

“OK, Chuck,” you say, “What does this have to do with my career or business in metal roofing?” Well, let me suggest that this has everything to do with being successful in this arena. The metal roofing market affords one of the most, if not the most, attractive growth areas in the construction industry. Every new building needs a roof and over 77% of existing buildings need roof replacements. Metal roofs are the most cost effective roof, whether new or retrofit, for these applications. Those facts have excited me since the 1970’s, when I designed and installed my first new and retrofit metal roofs. I developed the same intensity, passion, and enthusiasm to provide metal roofing services to a building owner that could realize the benefits of such a roof. Like those cold winter days in Ohio some 45 years ago (am I that old?), not all of my shots fell through the hoop. I missed some miserably, and some were “in and out.” But no matter the result of the attempt, I have never lost my burning desire to learn from my activity and try again.

So, what this means to you is this – find something you can be passionate and enthusiastic about. Don’t get discouraged, but, instead, learn from your failed attempts and missed goals. And, most importantly, remember that success is a path, not a destination. It is the path that matters. Reach inside and ask yourself, “Am I passionate about metal roofing?” If you are in this career merely to make a living, you are in it for the wrong reason. Find something you can be passionate about! If you are passionate about metal roofing, then pledge to yourself to gain all the knowledge you can get, and hone all of the skills you will need to become successful. These resources are available to you and you will be amazed how easy they are to find when you are empowered by your passion. A person driven by a burning passion can never be stopped on his success path.

This is the “soft side” of metal roofing. It’s not the nuts and bolts, the caulk and screws, the coatings and panels. Those items are readily available. The only thing missing in order for you to realize success in the metal roofing industry is your true passion. Become passionate about it, and you won’t realize how cold it is when you are shoveling the snow. Without the passion, the cold will stop you and you will blame it for your failure. With the passion, you will never fail. You might not make every shot, but you cannot be stopped from continuing on your path.

Please feel free to contact me with any questions or comments at (919) 465-1762. You can also find more information www.metalroofconsultants.net.