Daren Fraser, head of technical at Langley Waterproofing Systems Limited, explores the important factors that need to be considered before any potential refurbishment takes place.
A leaking roof can be a major unexpected disruption, with the potential to cause wider issues. For example, water seeping into buildings could damage the electrics within a structure, posing a potential fire risk. It can also lead to health hazards such as damp and mould and contribute to potential safety issues, with slips and trips if floors become wet – all of which can adversely affect both staff and students.
A full technical understanding of the existing roof material ensures that the right solution is chosen
If water damage is present, it is vital that the problem is identified and fixed quickly to ensure minimal disruption and damage. This is why, before roof repairs begin, it is essential that a detailed condition survey is undertaken for all flat roofs to ensure that no additional unforeseen work may be needed later down the line. A comprehensive condition survey will report the state of the current roof and consider all aspects of a refurbishment to make sure the solution is fit-for-purpose and that the final cost of the project is fully understood, to help with budget provision and funding.
A full technical understanding of the existing roof material ensures that the right solution is chosen – it will determine whether the roof needs to be stripped and replaced, or if a potentially cost-effective overlay is suitable. If the roof is to be overlaid, it is vital to confirm that the existing waterproofing is still intact – as any underlying issues are likely to resurface, rendering any repair works a potential drain of time and money. Any water that infiltrates the roofing system can lead to issues such as rot, mould and damage to the insulation – this can impact its thermal performance and could lead to failures within the roof and cause damage to the internal structure.
If it is a flat roof, moisture mapping should be undertaken to determine whether the existing roof is water damaged and the extent of the saturation – this can also assist in the specification of a required solution. In addition, core samples can be taken from the existing roof to assess whether the system is damaged and the extent of any damage identified.
Information obtained can then be drawn up onto a plan of the roof, indicating exactly where the water damage is situated. Depending on the extent of the water infiltration, the decision to overlay or replace the roof can then be determined.
Safe working environment
Fire safety is also an important consideration, both during installation and for the life of the roof. Langley, for example, is a registered NFRC Safe2Torch member, meaning all specifications comply with the Construction Design and Management Regulations 2015 and tie in with the HSE’s “Helping Great Britain Work Well” strategy, which promotes a safer and healthier workplace environment. A Langley roof condition survey will therefore identify any potential fire risks and for those areas, only flame-free roofing systems with be specified.
In addition, all of Langley’s systems have been independently tested and are Broof(t4) compliant, the highest fire rating compliance and classification for external fire penetration and surface spread of flame, with insulation thicknesses from 30mm to 250mm. This extensive testing of different insulation thicknesses is unique to Langley and ensures that all of its systems are certified in a variety of situations.
All of Langley’s systems have been independently tested and are Broof(t4) compliant
A detailed condition survey should also consider the long-term durability of the chosen roofing solution. In a educational environment, it is important that the roofing system can last, to ensure that further disruption, resources and funds are minimised or avoided.
Any roof material will need to be suitably robust and resistant to the impact of potential foot traffic by accessing tradesmen – for health and safety purposes, it should be installed with a slip inhibiting finish. To ensure that any potential damage is limited, it is recommended that any chosen roof system be durability tested and independently certified by organisations such as the British Board of Agrément (BBA).
Drainage provision should also be examined and reassessed to ensure that the new roofing system – whether it be overlay or replacement – does not exceed its capacity. For example, if the fall towards the roof outlets or gutters is increased, it is vital that the drainage can withstand the faster runoff. If this is not considered, water ingress issues can arise – leading to potential further repair works and unexpected additional costs.
The work that Langley completed at the Alec Hunter Academy showcases just how important an in-depth assessment of the existing roof can be, especially in relation to reducing cost.
The secondary school in East Braintree, Essex, had experienced leaks in its original roofing system. After a comprehensive roof condition survey, it was identified that the roof comprised two fragile decaying roofs. Although these needed to be completely stripped back and rebuilt, the condition survey identified a cost-effective solution in that the rest of the roof was suitable to be overlaid.
Planning and forecasting
A proactive approach to the management of educational facilities’ roofs helps to plan and forecast, therefore avoiding unexpected repair costs. Langley’s extensive reporting and condition surveys, backed with photographic evidence, can help to support and maximise the chances of a successful funding bid such as CIF (Condition Improvement Funding).
It is vital that any proposed application for funding is backed with extensive evidence and robust technical specification of a suitable solution. This ensures that the work undertaken is the most suitable solution and that cost certainty is achieved. Although budget constraints can be challenging, it is vital that educational facilities understand how their roofs – a hidden, out of sight asset – can be suitably managed and remain problem-free for decades to come.
To find out more about Langley, and the technical support available including site condition surveys, visit www.langley.co.uk
To download BBA and other technical data visit and register to: www.langley.co.uk/technical-downloads/