When new technology becomes available, the decision to move away from tried-and-true products or practices can be challenging. Remodelers and other professional contractors often develop preferred, trusted methods through years of experience.
But with storms and high-wind events becoming more frequent and more powerful, the industry, legislators, contractors, and homeowners are evaluating new options for making roofs more resilient in the face of adverse weather conditions.
One example of such changes is the FORTIFIED Home resilient building standards, created by the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety. These standards provide guidance for engineering, building, and remodeling homes to withstand damaging weather. There are three designations: Bronze, Silver, and Gold, with the Gold Standard providing the most protection. A key feature of FORTIFIED Gold is the practice of tying together all building components which creates a “Continuous Load Path.” This means the roof is tied to the walls; the walls are tied to the floors; and the house is tied to the foundation. The Continuous Load Path protects the home during high winds.
New products have emerged across the board to support resiliency efforts in the construction industry. These can help make building more resilient structures or building to stricter standards easier and more efficient. Here are some factors to consider when evaluating new materials and construction methods:
Investigate how materials and installation methods are designed to protect against potential damage from bulk water, wind, vapor transmission, and other factors that impact roof system performance. Explore information from the manufacturer to increase knowledge of what options are available, and speak to other professionals about their experiences with the product to help gain a sense of how the material works in the field.
Connect with your local code official to discuss any changes that could impact the way you build. Having these discussions prior to implementing a new product or process will help clear up any questions that might occur during a future inspection.
Also, check with the product manufacturer for third-party testing reports. These will verify code compliance and help during conversations with code officials if they are unfamiliar with the new product.
The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety provides on its website a map highlighting top risks faced in any given area of the U.S., so users can determine their top risks and adjust materials and building processes accordingly.
Image courtesy Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety
The latest building materials are often easier and faster to install than their traditional counter-parts. As is the case with anything new, knowledge is key.
Manufacturers are increasingly making installation instructions more accessible through videos and apps that are supported by a technical team that can be contacted with specific questions. Check out these resources to supplement your research, and if videos or other materials are not readily available to the public, reach out to the company. In many cases, companies will be happy to provide you with materials that will better illustrate the benefits of their products.
To balance out information from manufacturers and the code community, it can help to talk with colleagues and peers. Online platforms, such as Instagram and YouTube, are rapidly growing spaces where professional contractors give and get advice.
For live experience, ask local dealers if the manufacturer or their reps have any upcoming events or training sessions. A hands-on demonstration can help build confidence as you weigh options.
Manufacturers often have incentives available that ease the financial decision to try a new product. In addition, often a representative is available to meet on the jobsite to address questions or provide tips during installation. Top manufacturers are eager to provide this level of service, especially to potential new customers.
While code changes and risks associated with storm damage are driving new materials and practices in roofing, the opportunity to simply build better and differentiate your business is real. Identifying new options to protect your roof is an important way to provide customers a better product and strengthen your business in the process.