The owners of The Villages at Quail Run could not catch a break. During the winter of 2011, severe ice dams caused a million dollars worth of damages at the over-55 townhouse community in Hudson, Mass. That spring, engineers advised the association to replace the roofs on all of its 23 buildings. And finally, the entire roofing job — a massive project requiring 3,200 squares of shingles — needed to be done by November, or the association would lose its insurance coverage.
“This was a multi-million dollar roofing project which would normally require about six months of construction,” says senior property manager Cathy Birnbrich of Alpine Property Management. “Quail Run needed a contractor with the experience and resources to get the job done in half that time.”
After a competitive bidding process, the Board hired Schernecker Property Services, a full-service contractor that focuses on large-scale exterior renovation and repair work for condo and multi-residential properties. Now in its 25th year, few contractors can match SPS’s longevity or experience.
At first, because of the project’s scale and deadline, the association considered hiring three different contractors to perform the work in phases. But dealing with different contractors would have been a logistical nightmare, says Birnbrich. “Even so, we still didn’t think it was possible for one contractor to do it all.”
David Horton, P.E., who specified, bid, and oversaw the roofing project for engineering firm Noblin & Associates, believes SPS’s track record made it uniquely suited to meet the challenge at Quail Run. “In addition to being the low-bidder,” says Horton, “we felt SPS had the resources to manage this job better than any other contractor in the condominium market right now.”
Horton attributed the widespread water damage at Quail Run to poor flashing at critical roofing transitions and around dormers that could not withstand extreme ice dam conditions. Inadequate attic ventilation contributed to ice dam formation, says Horton. “Most roofs had four feet of snow on them, and when the snowmelt pooled behind the ice dams, it overwhelmed the waterproofing membrane at the eaves and the flashing at the dormers.” Insufficient flashing at the transition between the main roof and the porch roof was another major source of leaking.
Accordingly, the scope of work for Quail Run’s roofing replacement called for SPS to install ventilation baffles at the eaves and to remove construction barriers in the attics to allow unrestricted airflow from soffit to ridge vents. Extra exhaust vents were also added in some areas.
To guard against leaks, waterproofing membrane was installed over the entire front porch roof deck and nine feet above the transition to the main roof. Nine feet of membrane was also installed along the edge of the rear roofs and in the valleys. In order to install proper flashings, SPS removed and replaced most of the above-roof fiber cement siding and PVC trim boards. All dormers were also reflashed.
The SPS management team also made key money-saving recommendations that helped the Quail Run Board reduce future improvement and long-term maintenance costs.
One suggestion, says SPS Vice President Rob Monti, was to use low maintenance vinyl for the above-roof siding instead of replacing the existing fiber cement siding. “Some of the siding around the dormers had already begun to deteriorate,” says Monti. “We recommended that the Board choose a standard vinyl color for the above-roof siding. That way the remaining siding could be painted to match.”
Another SPS cost-saving suggestion was to use a different high-quality brand of shingle. The move saved Quail Run $60,000 without compromising roofing quality or longevity, says Monti.
As SPS crews worked through September, Birnbrich’s initial concerns about making the insurance company’s deadline were replaced with confidence. “I’ve worked with contractors on several large-scale roofing jobs,” says Birnbrich. “But the level of organization and efficiency that SPS brought to this project was something I had never seen before.”
In particular, Birnbrich credits SPS Business Manager David Sullivan with making her a believer. “The weekly production meetings were incredibly useful. David always kept us up-to-date on what the crews had accomplished and where they were going next. He made it very easy for the Board to make informed decisions to keep the project moving forward.”
Sullivan’s drive to maintain production momentum also impressed Quail Run Board President Bob Freedman. “We needed to choose roofing shingle colors,” says Freedman. “Saturday morning David Sullivan stopped by my unit with a sample board. That was a pleasant surprise. The Board came by and looked at the various colors and we told David what we liked. David was out again that Sunday carrying another sample board with a foot and a half square of that color.
“Monday morning, we learned that the distributor did not have enough of our shingle color in stock,” says Freedman. “But by Monday afternoon, SPS had contacted the manufacturer, who agreed to do a special run Tuesday and Wednesday to produce the shingles we wanted.”
Another key to streamlining production was having Noblin’s field technician David Hiltz onsite daily to inspect work in progress. “The tight timeline meant that we often had as many as 50 roofers and more than a dozen carpenters onsite,” says SPS’s Rob Monti. “Quality control is essential, and having Noblin’s staff onsite allowed us to address any issues and work out solutions on the spot. When the clock is ticking, you have no time to waste.”
SPS completed the roofing replacement at Quail Run before Thanksgiving, a contracting feat which Cathy Birnbrich still finds hard to believe. “This was an incredible team,” she says. “Everybody really stepped it up. It’s amazing what can be accomplished when you have a Board that is determined to do the job right, an engineering firm that can fast-track a project of this size, and a contractor you can depend on to come through when it counts.”