Archive for July, 2012

Luzerne County Courthouse Dome Roof Repair

The 103 year old courthouse is getting a $5 million facelift to restore and repair the exterior. Leaks from the main dome have damaged the interior of the courthouse. They expect the majority of the exterior projects to be completed by the middle of September.

The main dome and 4 smaller domes have also received a fresh color change from white to gray. The color change is due to a new waterproofing application that began 2 weeks ago and expected to be completed by the first of August. Gray was chosen to replace the white to make the courthouse more in line with the original construction back in 1909.

Several Stage Waterproofing

First the workers removed all the paint and waterproofing covers from the terra cotta roof tiles on the main dome and 4 smaller domes. Next step in the several stage waterproofing process is to apply a reinforcement of hairy mesh fabric to help protect from cracking from thermal extremes.

D.A. Nolt Inc. of Berlin, NJ is the construction manager for the project. Next year the county will seek bids for roof repair, and then the focus will shift to interior restoration.

Man Faces Jail Unless He Submits Roof Plans

In St. Charles Illinois a man is faced with going to jail if he does not submit new roof plans. Clifford McIlvaine has been doing repairs on his home for the last 37 years with no end in sight.

Kane County Judge Thomas Mueller ruled that if McIlvaine doesn’t submit code-compliant roof plans by Wednesday, he will consider putting McIlvaine in Jail. He has already been found to be in contempt of court for failing to meet several construction deadlines imposed by the court.

McIlvaine was sued by the city in 2010 pushing him to finish the renovation project. A work schedule was agreed upon and McIlvaine hired his longtime friend and contractor Jim Webb to finish the job.

Vehicles in the Yard for Last 12 Years

The city and his neighbors are frustrated with the condition of the home. A box trailer has been in his yard for 11 years. Vehicles have been parked under a tarp outside the garage for the last 12 years.

City officials have requested a search warrant to check out the remodeling work. McIlvaine believes the city is ‘picking’ on him and they have no right to inspect his home or property.

McIlvaine has been living in the house his whole life and says he is an independent thinker and likes to build things that last.

Hydraulic Roof Being Tested

Researchers from the University of Stuttgart Institute for lightweight Structures and Conceptual Design have come up a lightweight wooden dome structure to adapt to changes in the roof load. Known as the SmartShell, the design incorporates hydraulic drives to adjust the structure.

The 100 square meters open air structure is currently displayed at the university’s Vaihingen campus. The curved shell is made of 1.6 inch thick wood and has 4 supports at the corners. One support is stable while the other three have hydraulic drives.

Sensors Record the Load Status and Adjust Instantly

The shell has sensors in different locations which are linked to a control system. The sensors detect even the slightest change in the structural load, such as rain, snow or wind and the hydraulics react to compensate for that load keeping stresses to the structure to a minimum.

Stefan Neuhauser said “We give the structure some ‘intelligence’ by means of being able to react to varying loading conditions to reduce the stresses in the material as well as compensate for vibrations.”

Drive and control technology experts Bosch Rexroth partnered with the university to develop the hydraulic units.

The scientists are hoping that the technology could be used for a wide range of structures including bridges, high rise buildings and stadium roofs. The SmartShell can minimize weight, cost of materials and structural fatigue.

Report Indicates Increase Demand for Roofing

According to a study from Cleveland based industry market research firm the Freedonia Group, the world roofing demand will increase worldwide by 3.8% annually until 2016.

The report indicates the growth will be fueled by an increase in residential building construction and construction industries in major developed nations. The United States and China will account for nearly 60% of the roofing demand.

Shingles will Account for 80% of Demand

Roofing materials vary in different countries, bituminous (asphalt) and tile (clay and concrete) products being the most popular. The United States uses more of the bituminous products with the heavy use of asphalt shingles, while concrete tiles still dominate the market in Asian-Pacific Region.

The report points to a major recovery in new single family housing construction in the U.S. with fast rebound growth in developed countries and typically slower growth in smaller roofing markets in developing areas.

Repairs Begin on Tornado Damaged Church Roof

In Henryville, Indiana the chimney of St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church was lifted up and slammed back down on the pitched roof during a tornado last March. The 85 year old church’s steeple was also badly damaged.

About a dozen people huddled against the basement wall while the hurricane hit. Fortunately no one was hurt. The church also serves as a shelter and crisis center for relief efforts.

Insurance and Donations To Pay For Roof

Crews will replace the roof; repair the steeple, interior plaster and four broken trusses. The repairs are estimated at $250,000. The insurance will cover all but the $5,000 deductible, the Pastor, Steven Schaftlein hopes the rest can be covered by donations.

Schaftlein said of the repairs “We’re just so happy to see it get started, we want to see it get done, and we want to see it get done right.”

The 300 member congregation held Sunday Mass in the basement since workers discovered the roof damage was more extensive than previously thought.

Indianapolis based AACI Co. Inc. has begun the repair work on the new roof, steeple, trusses and interior plaster.

Waiting for Fitchburg City Hall’s Roof to Collapse

Built in 1852, the Fitchburg Massachusetts City Hall is in desperate need of roof repair. The trusses are compromised and the building is on the verge of falling down. According to two recent inspections from engineering firms, the roof needs to be fixed by winter.

Built in the form of a Roman Temple it served as the city of Fitchburg’s first town hall. At the time it was considered an architectural wonder.

As well as needing updating throughout the historic building, the wooden truss in front of the building that holds up the roof is failing. In the 1990’s the truss was reinforced, engineers said it should have been jacked up another 6 inches.

Tear down or Refurbish the Historical Building

Officials are considering demolishing the building and moving to temporary offices while a new city hall is to be built. While others want to preserve the historical building at all costs.

Mayor Lisa A. Wong said “I would definitely personally hate to see the building gone, but at the same time, this building is potentially too far gone both historically and practically for us to continue operating here.”

Samuel R. Blair, chairman of the Historical Commission said “It absolutely has to be preserved. It is a symbol of the city and an extremely important architectural structure on upper Main Street that is the center of our city government. You cannot convince me there is no way of saving it.”

Estimates for replacing the roof truss are $200,000. The discussion will continue at the next meeting Tuesday in City Hall.

Hershey Park Arena Roof Fire

The Hershey Pennsylvania’s historic arena’s roof burned for more than 2 ½ hours before firefighters could put out the fire. Director or safety and security for Hershey, Tim Shellenberger said there was little damage to the building, but it will take a few days to clean up the soot and clear out the smoke.

The fire started Thursday around 1 p.m. in a small area of the roof top that had a wooden structure and multiple layers of building materials. The wood smoldered and then caught fire. Workers have been making $2 million worth of roof repairs at the time. It is unknown at this time if the roof repairs triggered the fire.

5 Alarm Fire

More than 200 firefighters from neighboring towns came to fight the fire. The fire was difficult to contain since it was 100 feet above the arena floor with very few access points.

The nearly 100 degree weather caused a few emergency personnel to be treated for heat exhaustion. Firefighters worked in 20 minute shifts in the sweltering heat.

Pat Leonard, chief of the Hershey Volunteer Fire Co. said “I call it almost a $100 fire and just a lot of manpower to put it out.” He went on to say with regards to the integrity of the roof “This structure is concrete from the basement all the way to the roof, that’s a continuous poured concrete roof on that structure.”

Once the roof is repaired and the soot and damage cleaned up, owners expect the 75 year old Hershey arena to be back to normal.

Owner Facing Jail for Too High Thatched Roof

Jack Tasker, owner of a 500 year old picturesque cottage in the village of Preston St Mary, Suffolk could face prison time unless he removes his new thatch roof. Tasker is accused of carrying out unauthorized work on a listed building which is a criminal offense, in which case he can be fined or imprisoned.

The cottage was built around 1510 and believed to be the oldest barn conversion in the country. Tasker spent over £13,000 replacing the thatched roof.

Planning enforcement officers at Babergh District Council sent Tasker a letter informing him that his roof was ‘unacceptable, out of character and had been put on without permission.’ Senior enforcement officer Ben Elvin said the roof is 4 inches too high.

Asked to Replace the Roof

Elvin said “the council had no option to ask Mr. Tasker to replace that thatching that has been carried out with one that matches the adjoining property.”

Tasker said the problem is that his next door neighbor refused to have their roofs re thatched together resulting in them both carrying out work separately in different styles. He also said his thatched roof followed the guidelines while his neighbors broke with tradition.

Peter Burrows, the council head of economy said the only way out is for Mr. Tasker to submit a retrospective application for his new roof, despite planners saying is unlikely to be approved.

Check Your Roof before the Summer Storms

According to Bud Taylor from the facilities management at University of Arizona, preventive measures can go a long way into saving your roof if a serious storm hits your home. “In 30 years on rooftops in Arizona, the best way I’ve found to take care of monsoon season is preventive maintenance. You can’t wait until after the fact.”

Taylor, three full time and one part time roofer walk the 3.5 million square feet of campus rooftops, if there is anything that needs to be fixed, they take care of it immediately.

Be Safe on Your Roof

He suggested homeowners check their roofs for cracks, standing water, missing shingles and any other signs of damage. Also check the rain gutters to make sure they are not damaged or blocked. Taylor also suggested wearing a harness or other safety equipment, and if you are in doubt hire a professional.

You can check for leaks inside your home also, take your flashlight up into your attic to check for leaks or other problems. Look at the ceiling in each room, checking for mold or stains.

If you do find roof problems, your options are you can patch or replace your roof. You may be comfortable making simple patches and replacing a shingle or two, but you should probably consider hiring a professional if more work is needed.

Along with the summer storms come scam artists. Be wary of door to door roofing companies that come to your home uninvited. And never give any money up front. If the deal sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

The best course of action is to call 3 reputable roofing companies in your area to come out and give you a written estimate, also check the Better Business Bureau for any issues regarding the roofing companies you are considering hiring.

Green Roof Testing at Virginia Tech

Architecture and Urban Studies at Virginia Tech students have been researching the effects of green roofs and controlling urban runoff. Early results were recently released from the 2 year project. Not only do green roofs provide shade and help cool buildings by the extra insulation, they also reduce the force of storm water runoff. The vegetation acts like a sponge absorbing and filtering water that would normally rush into city streets and into the overburdened sewers.

Elizabeth Grant, assistant professor of architecture and lead investigator for the project said “We want to determine the effectiveness of various depths and types of green roof systems.” She went on to say “before designing these systems architects need to be able to answer this question, how well do they work?”

Different Depths for Platforms

By using 8 by 8 foot elevated platforms, the students determined that green roofs reduced and slowed runoff during the first 5 months. The plywood platforms were covered with white reflective thermoplastic roof membranes and three different depths of modular green roof covering; 6 inches deep, 4.25 inches standard and light at 2.5 inches. Also included in the study was a control platform and a 4.25 inch depth of growing medium, but no plants. A weather station recorded air temperature, humidity, radiation, rainfall and wind speed and direction.

49 storms were recorded and results were the deep, standard, light and medium only platforms retained more water than the control platform. Overall, the deeper systems held more than the shallow ones. The depth and other properties of the growing medium may be as critical as the vegetation to reducing storm water runoff.

The study will continue to evaluate how the weather and various types of green roofs reduce urban runoff. If you would like to know more about this project please visit