The Roofer’s Roof: Solving the project enclosure challenge in winter and inclement weather conditions

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Chicago Construction News special feature

Contractor Rob Smith says general contractors have told him “I wish I knew about this before,” as they learned about the Roofer’s Roof system that provides a temporary construction site scaffolding-supported tent, protecting job sites from inclement weather before buildings are enclosed.

Smith, chief of operations for ACR Advanced Commercial Roofing and TSI Commercial Floor Covering in Champaign, says he discovered the European technology to overcome the challenges of working in the winter and when there are challenging weather conditions, and has obtained exclusive rights to supply the Roofer’s Roof in Illinois.

The concept is simple: Based on individual project specifications, Roofer’s Roof supplies a scaffolding-supported tent designed for the specific job. If the contractor wishes, the tent can be enclosed and heated or ventilated to create a climate-controlled environment, and the scaffolding can be used by masonry, window and other contractors, reducing their own set-up and labour costs.

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The Roofers Roof system on a recent project. The scaffolding enclosure protects the site from inclement weather, while providing safe access for trades such as masonry contractors and window installers.

“We provide a tent roof over a roof to the building,” he said. “This prevents problems when climate or temperature or snow is holding up your projects, especially in January, February and March.”
He says the system’s incremental costs depend on the size of the building (taller buildings, naturally, would be more expensive because of the added scaffolding) and how early in the project cycle the system is planned.

“If you know you are going to use our system before you call on subtrade bids, you can include the condition that you will provide the scaffolding, and the subs can provide alternative (lower) bids,” he said.

“Our system is best for a job that has a tense schedule or one that cannot be compromised,” said Smith. If there is unlimited time to complete the work, then conventional methods may be best, but if the specifications require a rapid completion and winter work, then the savings will be substantial, because the system saves on custom-designed enclosures and integrates well with the overall construction trades workflow.

“Twenty years ago, they gave you two years to build a building,” he said. “Now it can be a year or less. But there’s snow, rain, precipitation – last year there were 121 days of precipitation. You can’t put a roof on or paint when there is precipitation, or when there is a forecast of it happening 20 percent or higher.”

As an example, he said a customer observed problems with a four-story hotel in central Illinois. There was a four-moth delay in completing the wood stick building. “Winter and snow kept him from putting the roof on last winter,” Smith said.

“He has lost four months – the owner can’t open the hotel for four months, the roof couldn’t be finished, the rooms couldn’t be finished, and then when the weather improved there were further problems, because moisture had seeped into the wood studs – requiring additional delays as they needed to be dried out.

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“I would have paid anything for this system to keep me back on schedule and complete the project,” Smith quoted the client as saying.

Materials for the scaffolding system are imported from Europe, but Smith keeps a significant inventory on stock and his team of six installers can respond quickly to emergency requests. However, the system is most economical when it is planned in advance, when the true overall cost (and savings) can be calculated by weighing the installed Roofer’s Roof investment against the ability to stay on schedule and meaningful cost savings from trades not needing to provide scaffolding or scissor lifts.

The system, he says, is a “win-win” for everyone in the project. The owner and design team are assured that their opening/completion will not be delayed, finishing sub-trades have a better working environment, reducing their costs with increased efficiency, and the general contractor knows the project will be completed on time and budget, and may be able to improve margins with lower trades costs and the security of knowing there won’t be direct or indirect penalties for project delays.

For more information, see roofersroof.com, phone (217) 344-8300 or email Rob Smith at rob.smith@tsicfc.com.

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