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Specifying Service to Ensure Performance

By Mike Huber, P.E.
It's long been standard practice for the architects and facility managers of commercial and public properties to specify installation and service requirements when recommending capital investments in complex systems such as HVAC. Shouldn't you be taking that same precaution with your roofs?

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Every roof, by its nature, is a unique and complex waterproofing system whose performance depends on three things:

All three must be present for a roof to achieve its anticipated lifespan. As a construction activity, roofing requires the same high level of diligence as other construction trades, such as heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC).

Typically, an HVAC system specification includes a service portion that specifies requirements such as:

Specifying the obligations of the manufacturer for field services in a roofing specification is equally if not more important, due to the critical waterproofing nature of roofs. Since many roof systems are constructed so that a significant portion of the work is not visible upon completion, inspections during construction are a prerequisite of success. By specifying requirements such as this, a building owner increases the likelihood that the roof purchased will meet or exceed its warranted service life.

Understanding Section 01 43 33

There is a specification section designed by The Construction Specification Institute (CSI) in their MasterFormat®1 to address the specific service requirements of manufacturers: Section 01 43 33, titled Manufacturer's Field Services. In creating this section, CSI recognizes that the same painstaking care used in defining material specifications ought to be applied to the construction process itself since it is those field services, in part, that ultimately ensure the performance outcomes of complex systems. The field service specification acknowledges the responsibility that manufacturers have to help ensure the appropriate use and proper implementation of their products.

For roofing, a field service specification should minimally consider six factors:

1 MasterFormat® is a registered trademark of the Construction Specification Institute (CSI).

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Initial Inspection and On-Going Monitoring

Since it is the manufacturer who warrantees the installed system, it makes sense for a manufacturer's representative to be involved not only in an initial inspection of rooftop conditions, but in monitoring the construction process on an on-going basis. Only as an integral part of the installation process can the manufacturer validate that its materials have been installed as specified and that the warranty is therefore in good standing. Since so much of the roofing work is below the surface once the installation is complete, it is essential that timely inspections take place during construction. You may wish to specify the use of an inspection log to:

It is advisable to specify that progress inspection reports be made available in an online format so that they can be reviewed simultaneously by multiple parties in multiple locations when necessary.

Design Considerations

It is reasonable to stipulate in a service specification that the manufacturer validate its materials and recommended installation techniques are compliant with all:

It is also the manufacturer's responsibility to validate the appropriateness of its solution to the architectural design proposed, thereby confirming that the performance outcomes anticipated by the architect and/or owner will be realized as designed. Such a stipulation should encompass all aspects of performance, including wind resistance, fire resistance, load, and drainage.

Comprehensive Documentation

Incorporating documentation requirements into your specification will ensure the transparency of your performance expectations, thereby facilitating their achievement. Prior to project commencement, you may wish to specify that the following documents be exchanged between all involved parties:

Installer Qualifications

Minimally, a field service specification for roofing should indicate that the installer of the roof system has been certified by the manufacturer to install the specified roof system. It is not unreasonable to incorporate additional stipulations designed to protect the owner from financially unstable contractors, e.g., to incorporate specific bonding requirements, worker safety expectations, field supervision and staffing expectations, etc. into a service specification. You may also wish to require documentation of the contractor's experience with projects of a similar nature using the specified roof system.

Product Substitutions

Once a field service section has been incorporated into your roofing specification, it is important to verify that all products proposed as equal to those specified, be confirmed in Section 01 43 33 to be "as equal" in relation to both the material and service requirements specified. Proposed substitutions must be accompanied by a signed and sealed certification by a professional engineer (certified by the state in which the installation is to take place), verifying that the recommended substitutions are compliant with both the material and field service requirements of your roofing specification.

2FM® is a registered trademark of Factory Mutual Global
3 UL® is a registered trademark of Underwriters Laboratories Inc.
4 Warnock Hersey is a certification mark issued by the ETL SEMKO division of Intertek.

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Coordination Meetings

There are specific milestones throughout a project that require precise communication and thorough documentation. A field service specification enables you to require those meeting-related processes most likely to ensure effective project coordination and success.

Clarifying meeting expectations via a field services specification will help to eliminate change orders due to miscommunication while minimizing liability through clearly articulated objectives and methodologies.

Other Considerations

From time to time, other assurances of quality and workmanship may be necessary to achieve the goals of a building's architect and/or owner. For example, you may wish to require such things as:


Historically, unlike other mission-critical construction systems, the service requirements for roofing specifications have been integrated into the specification sections that define material requirements and installation methods. By opting to highlight specific service expectations under Section 01 43 33, architects and building owners will increase the likelihood of successful roofing projects that realize their long-term design and performance objectives.

With a background in structural, environmental, and geotechnical engineering, Mike Huber has been a professional engineer since 1994. As a member of the Garland Speakers Bureau and Garland's Director of Engineering, he is a popular presenter of an American Institute of Architects (AIA) accredited course on the engineering and design of metal roof systems. He holds a bachelor's degree in engineering physics from Miami University and a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from Purdue University.

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