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Updating and Maintaining Your Chapter House Roof

As weather patterns continue to evolve, it is crucial for housing corporations to update their chapter house roofs to withstand the increasing intensity of wind and hail events. Convective storms in particular are a major cause for concern. Convective storms are extremely severe storms with defining characteristics of high winds, sudden temperature changes, and severe thunder and lightning.  

In light of these more severe weather conditions across the country, carriers are isolating geographic areas at greater risk to weather perils and are requiring additional measures be taken to update roofs. It is imperative to consider retrofitting affected chapter house roofs to mitigate risk.

Also at issue are state building codes. Many states have not updated their building codes to prepare for more severe weather, leaving existing and new structures vulnerable to sever weather damage. Building codes set the minimum standards for construction, however these standards may not always align with insurance requirements, leaving sorority houses vulnerable to potential coverage gaps. Furthermore, in many states and municipalities, building codes are not adequately enforced.

It is crucial for chapter houses in areas with inferior building codes to exceed minimum building code specifications to meet insurance expectations. This reduces the risk of roof damage and associated expenses if a convective storm hits a property. Housing corporations should be particularly wary of properties in the west and mid-west, where predictive modeling has determined a sharp increase in the frequency and severity of wind and hailstorms. Fortunately, universities are rarely near coastal areas, so that minimizes some of the increased risk of severe hurricanes.

MJ Sorority has consulted extensively with industry experts to create a list of recommendations for your chapters as they consider updating or replacing their chapter house roofs. At a minimum, we recommend that all of your chapter houses do an intake on the age and condition of their roof, which many roofing companies will do free of charge!

When it comes to fortifying your existing roof or installing a new one, MJ Sorority recommends the following:

  • Stronger Edges: strengthening the edges of your roof can help prevent wind uplift during storms, which can lead to roof edge failure. By reinforcing the edges with hurricane straps (not just for hurricanes!) or other secure attachments, the edges of a roof can withstand far greater wind speeds.
  • Sealed Roof Deck: adding a layer of protection against water helps minimize the risk of leaks and water damage during heavy rainfall, snow, and hailstorms. Sealing your roof deck not only strengthens your roof but protects the attic and building more generally from potential water damage caused by storms.
  • Better Attachment: improving attachment is the best defense for preventing wind and wind-driven debris from breaking your roof loose from the rest of the structure.
  • Impact-Resistant Shingles: investing in stronger shingles provides an additional layer of defense against hail and wind-driven debris impact. Designed to withstand high velocity impacts, these shingles reduce the likelihood of damage and the frequency of repairs.
  • Wind and Rain Resistant Attic Vents: upgrading attic vents maintains stable ventilation to the home’s interior, while simultaneously protecting against water and debris that may damage your roof and attic during a storm.
  • Impact Protection for Windows and Doors: the use of impact resistant materials to reinforce windows and doors mitigates the risk of them breaking or coming lose, leaving your property vulnerable to water and debris. An additional benefit to impact protection is security, making it nearly impossible to break through a window, even when the top layers of glass have shattered.

Given the heightened risk of volatile weather, it is imperative that organizations do an intake and analysis of the health of chapter house roofs. Taking proactive measures to update and fortify roofs and bridging the gap between building codes and insurance requirements can mitigate the risk of roof damage and will maintain the safety and longevity of your properties. Prioritizing the fortification via the recommendations above will not only enhance the overall structural integrity of the properties in question but will also undoubtably contribute to the long-term sustainability of these important spaces for members.

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