Surveying A Flat Roof | Before You Go To Site

Maguire Brothers - Surveying a Flat Roof-04

Part one of our guide to surveying a flat roof explores what you should consider before attending site.

Prior to surveying a flat roof …get a good brief!

It should go without saying that understanding the client’s needs are paramount.

So, before you even agree a date for your survey, make sure you have a clear, well defined brief.

That will include a good understanding of your client’s long term plans for the site. You won’t offer the same advice if the site is going to be re-developed in five years time, or if it is going to let it on a long term lease.

Find out all you can about the history of the roof, the problems the client/tenants have experienced, and obtain copies of any previous reports and quotations, as well as details of repairs carried out in the past.

Do your homework prior to leaving the office to survey a flat roof

Do your desktop homework before you leave the office. It may save you and everyone else an awful lot of time and effort and it will enable you to offer your customer the best solution, the best value for money and the best customer service.

Acquaint yourself with the project using Google Earth and prepare preliminary roof plans if possible. Make sure you know which roof areas are to be surveyed.

Make sure you are adequately equipped with the appropriate PPE, ladders, keys, a core sample kit, a digital camera, measuring and writing equipment.

Health & Safety considerations when surveying a flat roof

Falls are the leading cause of death and injury for construction workers. You shouldn’t survey a flat roof unless you are competent or are being escorted by a competent person. Always carry out a risk assessment and ask the client for input if necessary.

Here are some things to consider:

  • Letting someone know when you are going onto the roof and agree to check in with them when you’ve finished. If they don’t hear from you they should contact you and if they can’t, raise the alarm!
  • Never inspect a flat roof in high winds.
  • Be extremely careful in wet or icy conditions. If the roof is slippery postpone your inspection until it has thawed or dried out. Be very careful; you only need a small area of wet or ice to slip.
  • Make sure that the roof structure/deck is safe and not in danger of collapse.
  • Never walk backwards.
  • Never walk close to the edge of the roof, on parapet walls or close to roof lights. If you have to approach a roof light or the edge of the roof, get down on your hands and knees; ALWAYS.
  • Never walk outside safety railings or barriers.
  • Look out for and avoid hidden roof lights, which may have been painted over or are dirty.
  • Look out and avoid trip hazards, such as cables or safety lines.
  • Stop when you make notes. Don’t walk while you are writing things down.
  • Do not allow any of your tools or equipment to get near the edge of the roof. Nothing you take onto the roof should be left unattended where it is in danger of being knocked or blown off the roof or creating a trip hazard.
  • Where there are cables on the roof take care to avoid snagging them as they may be electrical cables.
  • Find out in advance if there are any aerials, telephone masts, or the like on the roof and check with the client or service providers, that it is safe to go on the roof while they are in operation. They may have to be turned off.
  • Remember – you are responsible for your own safety and that of others affected by your actions.

Our next article will look at the practicalities of surveying a flat roof and what you should look out for.

This article, as with all other articles we produce, is for guidance purposes only. It does not constitute formal advice and should not be relied upon as such. For bespoke, unbiased advice relating to your commercial roofing project please contact us and we would be pleased to assist.

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