Installing a new roof on an existing self-storage facility used to be a nightmare. It meant the self-storage owner and roofing contractor faced a variety of liability issues. After all, removing an old roof from a self-storage facility to install a new one left tenants' belongings open to a number of elements. Now those fears are a thing of the past.

David Fout, president of Fout Companies in Orlando, Fla., found a way to replace worn out, leaking roofs without any violation of tenants' goods. This turnkey general contractor for the self-storage industry recently reroofed a 70,000-square-foot facility in south Florida, which was 20 years old and consisted of seven structures.

"We installed a new roof over an existing standing-seam roof system with Roof Hugger, an attachment for retrofitting roofs," says Fout. "I used the retrofit system for two reasons. First, I wanted to eliminate the tenant-liability issues you are usually faced with when you take a roof off a self-storage facility. We were able to literally put the retrofit roof product on and install the entire roof system without the tenants even knowing we were there."

Fout says the second reason he chose the retrofit system is because he was able to increase the existing structure's wind-load capabilities. "This type of retrofit-roofing attachment is able to take a standard system installed on a typical self-storage building and increase the wind-load rating by way of additional retrofit attachments on closer spacings, and that's what we did," he explains.

Fout also realized he was able to insulate the facility with the retrofit system as well as put on a new roof. "I applied a rigid insulation between the retrofit pieces to increase the R-values because some of the buildings are being converted to climate-controlled spaces," says Fout. "The insulation made a dramatic increase in the efficiency of the building. It was incredible."

According to D.V. "Red" McConnohie, the inventor of the patented retrofit-roofing system, "A properly designed retrofit-roofing product achieves a 'thermal-break' air space between the old and new roof sheets, which allows for optional insulation. The system should also prevent cold bridging to allow U-values in excess of current building requirements to be achieved." McConnohie has more than 40 years of metal-structure design-build experience throughout the United States and overseas.

When comparing retrofit-roofing systems, McConnohie advises you look for systems that have undergone a variety of tests, and have passed the tests with excess capacity. These include dead-load tests, certified laboratory uplift tests, computer finite-element analysis and low wind-shear silhouette. The system should be certified to meet or exceed all local code requirements. It should also maintain or improve the integrity of the original design loadings. And, the system should duplicate the desirable "roll and flex" of the original structure to accommodate thermal and wind-load movements.


"This type of retrofit product does not require any special equipment. Only standard tools and fasteners are necessary," says Dale Nelson, president of Roof Hugger Inc., the company that produces the system. "Precision-punched notches act as a continuous template. The system is pre-punched to 'nest' into existing rib profiles. This 'nesting' into the old panel profile achieves a rugged, stable and low-silhouette connection system. It also has pre-punched pilot holes for rapid fastening into existing support structurals." Nelson has 27 years of design-build metal-structure experience.

"Retrofit-roofing attachments are absolutely a piece of cake to install," comments Fout. "I personally was involved in the first few buildings just to see how well the product worked, and it worked better than we anticipated. There were no bugs to work out."

Fout says the system's subpurlins, which are each 10 feet long, were delivered by common carrier. The subpurlins were removed from the truck with a forklift and put directly onto the roof. The installation began immediately.

"The transition from the retrofit attachment to the roofing process was continual," says Fout. "We had two people screwing down the attachments and right behind those two people was a small crew doing the insulating and putting down the roof. It was a very simple process."

Prior to having the retrofit-roofing system delivered to the site, Fout cut off all the old trim and had everything ready for the new roof. From start to finish, the entire reroofing job lasted less than six weeks. "We didn't have to rip off the old roof, and that's where we realized such a significant time savings," Fout comments. "You can take your time savings and put it in the bank as a credit to what you would have normally done."

"To place new roof panels on a building where an old roof has been torn off, the crew must work over open purlins encumbered with 'fail-safe' safety systems," McConnohie explains. "The owner, contractor and workforce all face unnecessary liabilities. When retrofitting, however, the process permits them to enjoy safety and time and dollar savings. The labor savings are dramatic!"

Cost-Effectiveness of Retrofitting

"Prior to retrofit-roofing attachments, the alternative was just a hat channel screwed to a metal roof," Nelson says. "But retrofit systems are much better, more stable and more effective than hat channels, with just a very slight increase in material costs that is more than offset by the labor savings. For the building owner, retrofitting a roof is a great alternative to stripping off the old roofing system. Retrofitting saves you up to 70 percent of the cost of labor on the preparation of an old roof."

Fout declares retrofitting is absolutely cost-effective. "When you have to rip out something and dispose of the refuse--such as the tear-out and haul-off of an old metal roof--it can get quite pricey," he says. In today's environmentally conscious society, most municipalities prohibit throwing old, galvanized metal roofing in the local dump; it must be taken to an approved disposal area. Some parts of the country even require contractors to hire an environmental-waste company when removing a metal roof with its lead-based galvanized coating. As a result, it has become very expensive and time- consuming to dispose of this type of debris. "By retrofitting a roof instead of replacing it, you not only save that high cost of tear-off and haul-away of the old roof, you are using a structure that is already in place without disrupting it in any way," says Fout.

Retrofit Roofing and the Future

"A lot of first-generation self-storage facilities are coming up for reroofing in the near future, and I can see where retrofitting is the solution to the problem," Fout says. "I have several other projects coming up this year for reroofing, and instead of tearing off the existing roofs as we had to do in the past, we will use retrofit-roofing attachments. It doesn't just alleviate tenant liability issues, it affords great convenience for buildings that are already inhabited."

Fout claims the retrofit market desperately needed this type of roofing system. "I will use retrofit roofing as much as I can, especially now that I have seen how well it works," he says. "I even recommend it to competitors. Without a doubt, retrofitting is the way of the future."

For more information about Roof Hugger, call 800.771.1711 or visit David Fout can be reached at 407.644.1828.

Michael Trunko is a full-time journalist specializing in business, construction and safety issues. He has had more than 650 feature articles and case studies published during the past 20 years. He is based in Copley, Ohio, and can be reached at 330.670.0552.

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