How architects can tap into the expertise of their metal roof manufacturer, part 1

Architects are not only expected to be experts in every field, they must also be part lawyer, arbitrator and magician

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April 27, 2015 |
Ken Buchinger
Architects, tap into the expertise of your metal roof manufacturer

There are a number of things a roof manufacturer can do to help the architect make sure the finished roof is properly designed. Photo courtesy of MBCI.

This is article is part of a series. Visit the Latest in Metal Façades blog page on bdcnetwork for more.

Today’s construction industry offers some serious challenges for all involved, but especially the architect. As budgets become tighter, clients’ expectations greater, construction schedules condensed, the workforce less trained and society more litigious, architects are not only expected to be experts in every field, they must also be part lawyer, arbitrator and magician. Put in this nearly impossible position, architects need to make the most of every resource at their disposal.

A key resource many architects often overlook, or at least fail to take full advantage of, is the roof manufacturer. You’ve heard the saying that “a roof is 10 percent of a project’s cost and 90 percent of its problems.” Well, if this is even half true, then it certainly makes sense for an architect to get the roof manufacturer they specify involved in the project from the very beginning. This will help ensure the roof is properly designed and installed in an efficient manner, eliminating unpleasant surprises at the end of the project. This is especially true when dealing with a metal standing seam roof.

There are a number of things a roof manufacturer can do to help the architect make sure the finished roof is properly designed, installed and provides long-term performance. Let’s take a look at a couple.

  • Review the roof geometry during the design development or construction document phase to ensure there are no areas that would pose insurmountable installation problems and identify areas that require special details to be watertight.

A manufacturer’s knowledge of the product can be invaluable in identifying roof details that historically result in poor performance—something the contractor and architect would have no way of knowing. This experience may allow them to suggest an alternative that has proven itself in previous applications. 

For example, most roof manufacturers would advise against designing a roof with an architectural detail that involves intersecting valleys. It is practically impossible to install a detail such as this and expect long-term performance. If brought to light early enough, the manufacturer can suggest a proven, reliable alternative.

  • Provide/review shop drawings to ensure that each detail is properly designed to provide long-term (minimum 20 years) performance.

Any discrepancies or issues should be resolved before the roof materials are even ordered. This alsoincludes penetrations made by other contractors. Too often, these penetrations are responsible for leaky roofs.

There are several other things a roof manufacturer can provide to optimally install a roof for durability and longevity. Stay tuned as I outline them in upcoming blog posts. Remember— the roof manufacturer has a wealth of knowledge and experience that the architect and roof contractor can tap into. Don’t let it go to waste.

Ken Buchinger | The Latest in Metal Facades

Ken Buchinger is the General Manager of Technical Services for MBCI. He began working at MBCI in 1988, and throughout his tenure he has been responsible for handling field problems, developing weathertightness warranties, erector training, research and development certifications, and the creation and management of the MBCI installation manuals and catalogs. Buchinger is actively involved in several trade associations and has written numerous articles for various trade magazines and gives presentations for various organizations. Prior to working at MBCI, Buchinger was part owner of Whitehouse Construction Company and erected metal buildings for Brown Erection Company.

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