Using IRT for flat roof refurbishment conflict resolution: 2 case studies

Category: Detect & Inspect Property Defects, Flat Roof Surveying, Infrared Technology

flat roof refurbishment conflict resolution

As we have seen previously, when it comes to leak detection on flat roof, there are several surveying techniques available. Infrared thermography (IRT) is used for many reasons and is an excellent tool for on-site flat roof refurbishment conflict resolution. Like any technology, it isn’t perfect of course, but it is able to rapidly deliver evidence of a defect, apportion blame and suggest a route forward.

One of many reasons to use IRT for flat root refurbishment conflict resolution: Impartiality

First thing to understand is that IRT is impartial. Thermographers are literally reporting on what they see and commenting on their interpretation of the images.  A professional thermographer is not on any particular side as such. In fact, they are more like building doctors who can prescribe a course of action or recommend a surgeon. How you got the ailment isn’t their fault. Just like a real doctor!

New flat roofs are expensive and if we can help prolong the life of the existing waterproofing then it’s in everyone’s interest to do just that. There is also the not-so unimportant aspect of preserving the environment.

Flat roof refurbishment conflict resolution: Case Study 1

IRT surveys were called to a shopping centre in Scotland by an RICS surveyor to establish the cause of leaks from their flat roof and help create a refurbishment programme.

The roof in question was some 4,500 m2. Several core samples had already been taken but delivered confusing results. The confusion was pushing the thinking towards a complete strip and re-roof at considerable expense. Close to £750,000.

With only one day spent on site taking thermal images and two days in the office analysing the pictures, we had dramatically changed that proposal. Our imaging had identified very clearly that water was making its way through poorly installed roof lights and air conditioning units. This ingress had lead to saturated insulation in a number of areas. All clearly marked on a plan and evidenced by images. Leaks below the deck could be tracked to details at air conditioning units above from adjacent tenants.

The result? Areas were stripped, some overlaid. The contractor who installed and maintained the air consitioning units was billed for the damage he had caused. Saving our client £750K. Less the cost of our survey. £3,500. Problem resolved in less than a week with excellent value for money.

Prior to appointing IRT surveys, the landlord had been arguing with tenants about who was to blame. As they were all signed to repair and maintenance leases, the tenants were being faced with sharing the£750K bill between 20 of them. The surveyors acting for the various parties were trying to apportion blame and mitigate risk and exposure for their client.

No one was doing anything wrong or untoward. Technology was here to be exploited to save money and time, not to mention the bad feeling created between the parties and sleepless nights for the tenants.

Flat roof refurbishment conflict resolution: Case Study 2

Another flat roof, another problem, another shopping centre – this time just west of London. IRT surveys were instructed to survey a flat roof which turned out to be beyond saving. Our survey showed significant ingress and saturated insulation almost everywhere we looked.

Having seen the report, our client, an RICS surveying practice, decided upon a complete new roof. Our survey helped prove the need and was used to help engage the tenants. So far so good.

Things got really interesting after the refurbishment. The roof still leaked and the contractor seemed to lay the blame at the cladding system and kindly provided a quotation for over £1M to replace it.
Having spent over £500K replacing the roof, our client was reluctant to proceed and asked IRT surveys to provide an after survey of the roof. This is where things went pear-shaped for the hapless contractor.

Very quickly we realised that the before and after images were all but identical in most areas. Despite charging for a complete strip and relay, this contractor decided to merely overlay the roof – trapping all the old problems beneath a new layer of felt. This trapped water had only two places it could go. Down into the fabric, or up and blister the new system. It did both of course and our images were used to help prove the deceit.

Interestingly, the waterproofing manufacturer had receipts proving he had delivered enough material to site to do the job properly, but the contractor was using it on other sites. Needless to say this one didn’t end well for the contractor.

If you are facing a conflict with a contractor about the quality of your flat roof refurbishment and are looking for an impartial opinion, do contact us by clicking on the button below.

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