Roofing products have come a long way in the last 100 years and continue to be developed in useful ways.
We sat down with Kiwi Roofing's General Manager, Paul Connell to discuss their approach and learnings.
SPEAKERS: Paul Connell, Georgie Fenwicke
Paul Connell 00:00
We've just actually completed a roofing project of 85,000 square metres. And we actually roll formed the sheets to the roof and those sheets were in a lot of cases were 75 metres long.
Georgie Fenwicke 00:13
That's Kiwi Roofing's Paul Connell, who were joined by today to talk about everything roofing. 85,000 squares is a huge site and that roll forming on site saves hours of installation time. Industrial zones are the powerhouse of cities. In this series, Frankie deconstructs Industrial sites down to their core components so that we know how to look after them. It's hard to understate the role of the roof in terms of its protection from the elements and managing rain and water runoff. Do you even have a building without one? And now to the conversation with Paul, we started by talking about how the industry has changed over the last 20 years.
Paul Connell 00:51
I think the roofing industry has actually dramatically changed. Number one, it's a much much safer industry to be in. And you know, 20 years ago, it was very dangerous. It was quite unregulated. And so we've come a long way. Which is, which is great. You know, it was it used to be very, very hard to convince clients to use safety netting which now is just standard practice. Because it was a slight price difference but but it's um you know, it's come a long way in regards to health and safety. And it's also has come a long way as a trade as now it's seen to be a professional trade. We have a true apprenticeship, which is a two year apprenticeship. And so you know, it's become a standalone industry it used to be quite so related to plumbing and and builders, but now it's it's become a specialised trade.
Georgie Fenwicke 01:54
Now when thinking about an industrial building, what are the key components and materials used in industrial roofing projects?
Paul Connell 02:02
The key components really are Steel Roofing, generally speaking colour steel, or product brands like Magnaflow, Zinacore, ENDURA and Maxx. We also see that, you know, the traditionally there's been quite a large use of zinc alum, which people could compare to a product like galv alum or galvanised sheet. But we don't see so much zinc alum these days, it seems to be fading out because the reality is is that colour steel. And these set of colour coated products do have a longer life. And yes, they are slightly more expensive. But that longer life is beneficial. It means that you are not having to interrupt the tenancy to replace a roof. And then it's really, really important.
Georgie Fenwicke 03:02
Yeah, it's absolutely and when and when it comes to installing these products, what is the average project timeframe?
Paul Connell 03:13
Yeah, it very much for ranges, because it tends to be these days that people are getting buildings specifically designed for their business. And there are a lot of design and build projects, where people just have a specification, whether it's, you know, a long and skinny building or a wide. And so we seeing a lot of a lot of buildings that are built specifically for a tenant or an owner.
Georgie Fenwicke 03:39
That's fascinating and really cool to see because you can imagine that a specifically designed building for production operations or distribution operations would have productivity benefits over the lifetime of that site.
Paul Connell 03:54
Yes, I think that comes down to a lot of you know, like you say, production centres, things like that. And it's all about that flow, the flow of product or the flow of production, in and out.
Georgie Fenwicke 04:11
Now, a roof can last for a very long time. We've talked about talked about buildings from the 60s and 70s that were developed back then sort of just going through some rework projects now. But what do you need to do to look after the roof across its lifetime?
Paul Connell 04:27
Yeah, yeah. Look, it's, it's a really good question. I think, I think most people don't realise there is a maintenance requirement for for a metal roof. If you think about it naturally. You know, you've washed your windows on your house. You wash your house. You know, there's toxins that appear on everything, whether it's dust or rogue dust and all sorts of contaminants. So, so it is really important that commercial roofs are washed down. And that there is a maintenance schedule in place. What I would always say to people is basically look at your warranty. And those warranties come from, you know, the key suppliers in the market. And they should be requested when we complete projects. But generally speaking is a rule of thumb every 12 months, roofs should be washed down.
Georgie Fenwicke 05:22
Amazing. And what else should be looked out for when you're on the roof? So you're on the roof, you're doing the wash down. What what sort of things are you looking out for, as things to note?
Paul Connell 05:34
Yeah, I think Yeah. You know, quite regularly, there are things like, you know, birds love to nest on roofs. So it's really important that, that that is being managed, and any nests are being removed. An obvious thing is with internal gutters, that the downpipe connections are cheap, because there's nothing like a soccer ball in a down pipe to block a gutter to flood a building.
Georgie Fenwicke 06:02
Yes, and flooding is not good as we all know.
Paul Connell 06:05
We don't like flooding.
Georgie Fenwicke 06:08
We like great drainage systems that work well.
Paul Connell 06:10
Yeah, we don't want those phone calls, and inherently just just anything that stands out that doesn't look right. Yeah. But gutters need to be cleaned out certainly but, you know, it's just a simple inspection. And a lot of the modern buildings these days have very good ladder access systems to the roof. Yes. So they're designed so that can be inspected, they're not difficult to get to.
Georgie Fenwicke 06:35
Yes. Um, and when it comes to the the point on drainage and blocked gutters, what are some of the what's some of the key developments that you've seen in the last few years? Because I know a lot of people are putting it into sort of retention systems and that sort of thing.
Paul Connell 06:53
I think it's just come down to a lot of better design by architects. They're realising the mistakes of the past, and they're ensuring that there's, you know, there's adequate flow of water. You know, we wait, especially in Auckland, we you know, we do get these historic, heavy, heavy downpours - one in 100 years - and they seem to happen more than one and 100 years. And so, you know, really, really good strong design. And that really comes down to working with architects who, who are really well versed with, with the commercial builder requirements, suitable size overflow systems. Yeah.
Georgie Fenwicke 07:34
And we're seeing things like retention ponds, and then retention tanks, as well.
Paul Connell 07:43
Yeah, we've definitely seen that in the market. I mean, it makes sense water recycling. We're seeing a lot of solar systems being installed on commercial buildings these days. And, and funnily enough, what seems to be happening with the solar systems that, you know, these rooms are big roof areas. So it's a great place to put a solar system without requiring extra use of land. And what's actually happening, what we sort of hearing in the market, from a couple of solar installers is that these companies are putting solar farms on their roofs and selling that energy back to the grid. Awesome. So it's actually now becoming another source of income for the for the developer or the landlord. So he's not only getting rental, he's actually getting another income source.
Georgie Fenwicke 08:35
Yeah and I'm just really interested in following up on that. It's kind of another could be another complete real estate market, just the roof of Industrial?
Paul Connell 08:44
definitely. You know, it's a recent conversation that I had with one installer, and it's a very good point. You know, we, you know, we've just completed a building of 85,000 square metres. That's a very, very big solar farm, if someone was to actually go into doing that project.
Georgie Fenwicke 09:01
Yeah, absolutely. And would there be any trade offs in terms of looking after that roof with solar panels on top?
Paul Connell 09:08
There'd be some very good design, monkey toe site type clamping systems inherently just comes down to basically you still need to add the ability to wash down areas.
Georgie Fenwicke 09:18
Exactly. And solar panels are definitely something that you need to wash down anyway, because of that. And once you get the sort of dirt on the photovoltaics surface, you want to be able to slide it down.
Paul Connell 09:31
It's like the windscreen of your car.
Georgie Fenwicke 09:33
Yeah. 100%. And then in terms of in terms of roofing profiles, and you said something very interesting just before this conversation about concealed clip roofing. Now to a layman, what does that mean?
Paul Connell 09:46
So concealed clip roofing is basically roofing that doesn't have any holes in it. So visibly speaking, there are no fixings shown. The fixings are designed so that they are basically inherently underneath the ribs of the profile, and it's basically a clip down type system. But yeah, it's these are these a small range of products available in New Zealand. And I think people are really starting to realise the benefits of them. You know, one of the benefits is that they can be produced on site, roll formed on site, we've just done a project with actually roll soft roll form directly to the roof. 75 metre long sheets. And so what that does is it eliminates steps in the roof and eliminates costs in the roof. And I suppose, you know, what, what we can sort of say with those type systems that is that, you know, they should be leak proof solutions. And leak proof solutions require less maintenance, they are going to last longer. And, and they, you know, you can do they're more flexible than what, and basically how you can put them together.
Georgie Fenwicke 11:03
I'm loving talking about this, because so many of the so many of the developments in the industry have very much come from a drive towards greater productivity, and reducing that repairs and maintenance requirement profile over time, which when you consider the total cost of the total cost of the building is exactly what owners and operators want out of their site.
Paul Connell 11:26
That's right. Yeah, yeah, I think what we probably underestimate some time and profile selection is lifetime, what is the lifetime of that profile compared to another profile? And what what we're seeing as these concealed profiles have had, you know, inherently you, you might get another five years, 10 years out of that profile.
Georgie Fenwicke 12:10
I'm just going international for a moment, can you give us some insights as to how the Australian and US markets are structured when it comes to roofing?
Paul Connell 12:18
Yeah, the Australian market is, you know, it's a very similar market to ours, as far as what they do, and how they do it. But what you tend to see in the Australian market is a lot more simplistic in the product range. There is there is a very limited range of commercial products. And they also tend to keep purlins spans down quite quite a bit, closer than what we do. So they don't, they don't need some of the profiles that we have. And it's quite unusual it's are much, much bigger country with a much less limited range of products. Which begs the question, why do we have a New Zealand so many different roofing products? Yeah, it's, there's no real answer to that. Maybe I think it might be comes down to we try to be more innovative and push the boundaries. And New Zealand manufacturers have created some very, very good products, that that are very cost effective. They're wider cover, which creates a better yield of cost. And so yeah, I think it comes down to we just being a bit more innovative. And some of that innovation, as you know, has been seen around the world and then picked up in other countries like South Africa. We've definitely seen some of the New Zealand products that have been redeveloped in those sort of markets. The American market, the North American market is very different from what we do down here. You there's a lot more insulated roofing systems, and obviously temperatures as part of that. The cold the hot areas. So their market is greatly different, a lot more expensive, and in square meter rates. But obviously, you're dealing dealing with the dynamics of thermal.
Georgie Fenwicke 14:17
Absolutely, because in the north, you get extremely cold temperatures throughout the year, that wide variation of temperatures in summer and winter and then in the Southern states, you've just got a lot of sunshine.
Paul Connell 14:31
That's right. Yeah. And when you're dealing in those cold environments, you've got snow and snow was heavy. Yes. So that has a serious impact on roof design. Yeah. So So yeah, it's it's a very different market. But, but you know they did in they also do a lot of standing seam roofing in America. What a standing seam? Standing Seam roofing is basically once again it's a conceal clip typed roofing. But it's produced in quite narrow sheets. It's it's very popular in the North American residential market, okay, and even in the commercial market as well.
Georgie Fenwicke 15:13
And now on to innovation, I'm just talking through sort of some of the variations between the Australian in the, in the American market and you touched on that we, we here in New Zealand like to think of new ways of doing things to either increase productivity for the team on site to reduce installation time, reduce the repairs and maintenance profile of expenditure on on a building. Take us through some of the latest developments in commercial roofing.
Paul Connell 15:40
Yeah, surprisingly, you know, a tin sheet is a tin sheet but, but in saying that we have seen some really good innovation happen over the last 10 years. We've seen we've seen a lot of innovation happen around insulated roofing systems, or warm roofs. So there's been a, there's been a real demand for basically roofing products that have a high R value, or thermal value. And also that have an acoustic value. So we've seen developments of, of systems made up systems that will deal with that. And they've been used in a lot of accommodation type buildings or office environments, or stadiums. And and we've also seen as part of that, a lot more use of products like kingspan, insulated panel systems. Yeah. Which, which, basically a made up system.
Georgie Fenwicke 16:38
And what is involved is that the is that the colour steel matched with sort of like a Pink Batts or something like that?
Paul Connell 16:45
Yeah, basically, basically, if you could imagine it's, it's two pieces of steel, an upper and a lower, yes, but they haven't. And the core of PIR, which provides the thermal value, and it comes in a range of steps, and a range of colour options, as far as your finish, but you know, it's a really good system. Kingspan are one of the biggest roofing companies in the world. And they have some incredible products and technical sort of backup service to go go with that. They also they also produce a range of facade systems, or cladding systems, which were used in New Zealand. So, so yes, that's been really exciting. And outside of that, we've started to see some innovation in underlay systems, by way of anti-condensation film, which is like a felt film that can be applied at rollforming or at manufacture. By way of New Zealand steel. They're producing it. So there's, there's a couple of brand names, one's called drydocks. One cu is called drip stop. And the great thing about those products is basically they they they take the place of a standard roofing underlay, and they're actually a heat to the underside of the roofing coil. So what that effectively means is, when we're going to instal a roof, rather than having to fight roofing, underlays and a windy day, we are basically just putting the answer sheet and scrolling down, or in the situation of a concealed club. We were basically putting the club first and then and then basically, suddenly a sheet on top of that, and that's,
Georgie Fenwicke 18:29
It's amazing those types of kind of ideas of putting the two components together. Yeah, because you can just imagine guys just installing the roof on the top of the building
Paul Connell 18:39
Historically, it's been a it's been a problem for years and years. And, you know, this is this for us, it's a pretty exciting development, pluses and most of the benefits of the anti-condensation product in the fact that it reduces noise by about 20%. And it it will contain a larger amount of condensation than traditional underlays. Yeah. So So yeah, it's it's, I believe it's a game changer.
Georgie Fenwicke 19:11
Yeah. And when it comes to the products that stored within the building, or the people who are working on the floor, what impact does it have on on them?
Paul Connell 19:18
Yeah, it just creates a healthier environment. Yeah. It's just part of that, that envelope of a better environment, better natural light, better roofing solutions. And so but, you know, it's it's a it's a, it's a bit of sort of system overall.
Georgie Fenwicke 19:36
Yeah. And looking ahead, what sort of developments can you see coming coming through?
Paul Connell 19:45
I think I think, you know, what we are really seeing as these can conceal clip roofing solutions. I think they are the way of the future. And the great thing about some of those systems is that they can be raw filmed on site, they can be raw form to any sheet length, we've just actually completed a roofing project of 85,000 square metres. And we actually roll form the sheets to the roof. And those sheets were and a lot of cases were 75 metres long. And that's, that's just unheard of in this country. It's the first time it's ever been done or achieved. And, but what it means is basically utilisation of labour was really, really well managed. And labour is a reliable resource has always been a limitation and, and to some degree always will be. So it's about how we how we best manage that labour to achieve the most to get the most amount of square metres down on one day.
Georgie Fenwicke 20:44
Yeah, and when you're talking about an 85,000 square metre site, being able to roll form to 75 metres, just is amazing. Yeah.
Paul Connell 20:54
And it also means that, you know, traditionally, we can only cart a 28 metre long sheet on the road. So what that means is, for a build a standard build, you've got to end up with a lot of steps in the roofs and steps in the roof are weak points, potential late points. And by being able to produce, you know, a 75 meter sheet, we eliminate a lot of weak points, which comes back to the fact that we could we could then offer a leak proof solution, a longer warranty. And so it becomes a win-win.
Georgie Fenwicke 21:26
Absolutely, as part of, as part of this interview, we'll make sure to include a bit of information about that. I saw a post on LinkedIn recently, and sort of showcasing that that system, and it looks pretty fantastic. Comes on the back of a truck in a container.
Paul Connell 21:45
Yeah. Yes, it does. Yeah. Yeah. It's, yeah, it's, it was very exciting to be involved in and, you know, I think our clients were very happy. And ultimately, we saved about two and a half months off programme. Wow. Because of using that system. That's incredible, which that's a cost saving.
Georgie Fenwicke 22:07
We've covered a lot of topics today and it's been awesome to talk to Paul Connell about his experience in the roofing industry.
Thank you so much for your time today, Paul.
This series is Deconstructing Industrial, a series that breaks down building components so that you know what you need to do to look after them.
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