November 30, 2015
by Jason Allen
Let’s continue the discussion about converting low-slope roofs to steep-slope metal roofs. Part 1 discussed attachment of framing, the new attic space, ventilation and condensation issues, and drainage.
Reroofing Code Requirements
Converting a rooftop is a specialized type of reroofing. The codes specifically allow this via an exception that says “complete and separate roof systems, such as standing-seam metal roof panel systems, that are designed to transmit the roof loads directly to the building’s structural system and that do not rely on existing roofs and roof coverings for support, shall not require the removal of existing roof coverings.”
To meet this code requirement—and to not have to remove the existing roof system—the loads must bypass the existing roofing system. This is critical to create a load path from the new structure to the existing structure for dead loads, snow loads, rain loads, and uplift (e.g., wind) loads.
Structural Loads & Wind Resistance
IBC’s Chapter 16, Structural Design, includes all the required information and design methods to determine the dead, snow, wind, and rain loads acting on the building. The new framing members and their connections, as well as the new metal panels and their attachments to the new framing, must be able to resist the loads acting on the building. The resistance must exceed the loads. Most often, wind resistance loads control the design. Manufacturers and structural engineers should be consulted for material specifics and fastener requirements.
Fire resistance for a converted roof needs to meet the requirements of the model codes. Check with manufacturers for fire classification of the system installed, and ensure it meets the minimum class (A, B, or C) required in the project location. See the blog “Fire resistance of metal panel roof systems” for more information.
For all types of reroofing, the most recent insulation requirements need to be met. In most cases, additional insulation will be necessary. Insulation can be placed at the attic floor (i.e., on top of the existing low-slope roof) or directly under the new metal panels. Where the new roof meets the wall is very important for continuity of the overall building envelop insulation; lack of continuity is energy inefficient and may be a point of condensation. The location of the new insulation needs to be coordinated with the ventilation plan and condensation potential should be considered. See Part I for more information.
While reroofing with metal can be an aesthetic improvement and solve leak issues, structural loads and wind resistance, fire resistance, and insulation requirements are necessary considerations when converting from a low-slope roof to a steep-slope metal panel roof system. Don’t overlook the basic code requirements, or the need to deal with heat, air, and moisture issues of the new attic space.