Introduction: “Conflict Zones” During Tenant Construction Projects
Multifamily roofing projects on multifamily tenant properties involve a unique challenges when it comes to addressing tenant patios and balconies. Patios and balconies both represent quasi-private spaces which, unfortunately, roofers sometimes need to intrude in order to safely complete a project.
Our roofing project managers got together to share best practices for working around tenant properties and multifamily complexes, and identified balconies and patios as common ‘conflict zones’ for tenant complaints. Balancing tenant comfort and safety while ensuring a successful roofing project requires careful planning and execution.
Our team has gathered best practices for addressing patios and balconies, which we detail below as a guide for apartment building managers to effectively prepare for a large construction project such as a roof replacement. In conjunction with a reputable contractor, property owners/managers who can stay ahead of planning and communication go a long way toward making a smooth project on a multifamily tenant property.
1. Pre-Project Assessment
Before the roofing project begins, conduct a thorough assessment of the property’s patios and balconies. This assessment should include:
- Photos of Every Property: This may sound like overkill, but we promise it is not. Photos of every (visible/accessible) balcony and patio before the project will document condition, and any personal property stored there, such as grills, bikes, or fire tables.
- Structural Integrity: Ensure that elevated railings and balconies are structurally sound and can support the weight of ladders, roofing equipment and workers. Knowing the condition of (especially wood) railings is good anyway, but an upcoming construction project makes this assessment even more valuable.
- Drainage Systems: Check for any clogs or damage in drainage systems to prevent water from accumulating and causing leaks or damage.
- Tenant Communication: Inform residents about the upcoming roofing project, its timeline, and any necessary preparations or temporary relocations. Most notably, grills, plants, and personal property are recommended to be pulled in close to the house or inside if possible to avoid damage.
2. Alternative Gathering Spaces
Patios and balconies are important to the lifestyle of tenants. Grills, gardens, seating, yoga, clotheslines – whatever it is that is important to tenants should be important to you. We find that being intentional about providing alternative gathering spaces and communicating those benefits goes a long way for the safety and comfort of tenants
- Dates and Times: A good property plan for each building on a project (see our guide on planning an effective building flow) includes information on construction dates at each building and common areas.
- Make Use of Common Areas: Outside of working hours, management can provide gathering spaces in common areas. Providing grills or lawn games at grassy areas in the evenings, pool house or community center events, potlucks, food trucks, etc – are all ways we have seen building management add to community gathering during construction projects.
- Moving Assistance: We performed a roof replacement job at a large retirement community that went out of its way to offer assistance in physically moving grills, planters, and patio furniture for anyone that needed/wanted assistance. This ensured clear access for workers and equipment while protecting the personal belongings of tenants, all in a way that showed care and attention toward tenant satisfaction. Work crews reported many cookies and baked goods as gifts from the tenants – always a clear sign of a successful project.
- Protection of Belongings: Advise or provide tenants with options, such as tarps, to secure or protect any valuable or delicate items from patios and balconies to prevent potential damage.
3. Safety Measures and Area Control
Patios and balconies are a transitional space between private and public [editorial note — thank you to the careful readers emailing us about this comment. We mean this in the context of an apartment complex, where patios extend into common areas. This transitional space requires access for ladders, drop tarps, property protection, or maneuvering heavy equipment]. As such, they becomes a shared space for tenants and construction, requiring extra attention to safety.
- Safety Barriers: Temporary barriers, stanchions, safety tape, or barricades around patios and balconies to prevent unauthorized access and protect residents from falling debris. In moderate wind, OSB sheathing can be used to protect glass doors/windows
- Air Conditioning Units: A/C units cannot move, and must be protected where they are. This topic on it’s own is so relevant (and potentially costly) to property managers during overhead work that we have a whole separate piece on Addressing AC/HVAC Units During Roofing on Multifamily Properties
- Warning Signs: Display warning signs in common areas to alert residents to construction activities and potential hazards.
- Other Safety Concerns: Whenever we are talking about safety on a tenant-occupied jobsite, we frame the conversation around 3 Ps: People, Pets, and Property. See our article on Safety Planning for Overhead Roofing Work at Tenant Properties.
4. Construction Practices
- Work with a Reputable Contractor: A reputable roofer who has experience with multifamily/multi-building complexes will have a plan, have established processes for Tenant Communication, and likely have specialized systems to protect property & equipment.
- Material Planning and Handling: Appropriate workflow design prevents workers from having to handle materials over balconies and patios, avoiding any debris falling onto those spaces.
- Regular Clean-Up: Enforce a strict cleanup routine to remove debris promptly, especially roller magnets to remove any stray nails and metal.
- Noise Mitigation: Set working hours and setting expectations ahead of time for noisy construction activities minimize disruptions for tenants.
5. Post-Project Inspection
After completing the roofing project, conduct a thorough inspection of patios and balconies:
- Photos of Every Property: This should sound familiar – yep, pictures of each property, again, now that construction is complete. Document, document, document.
- Nails and Debris: This is especially relevant in drainage systems – gutters, scuppers, drainage grooves on balconies. Prevent water from accumulating and causing any leaks.
- Tenant Feedback and Thank-yous: Seek feedback from residents to address any concerns or issues that may have arisen during the project. Also, take the time to thank those in the community who helped make the project go smoothly. If you’re at the property anyway, leave a note at the door.
Conclusion: Happy Tenants = Smooth Projects
Effectively managing patios and balconies during multifamily roofing projects is essential for tenant satisfaction and safety. By conducting pre-project assessments, facilitating temporary relocations, implementing safety measures, supervising construction practices, and conducting post-project inspections, apartment building managers can ensure a smooth and secure roofing project while minimizing disruption to residents’ lives.
When selecting a contractor to partner with for your project, ask lots of questions. Our hope is that this article has provided talking points to discuss prior to your project and a system to evaluate whether you have the right team in place.
Rhoden Roofing has extensive experience conducting multi-family roofing projects safely and effectively. Our team has been serving the lower Midwest since 2008 and is proud to have earned the trust of apartment managers, HOAs, storage facilities, rehab centers, and patio home communities across Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, and Arkansas. Our team at Rhoden Roofing can answer your questions, provide references, and provide a level of trust you can depend on. We also offer free inspections and estimates.
This article is part of our Multifamily Roofing Comprehensive Planning Guide. Learn more about:
- Ensuring Smooth Projects
- Know Before You Start
- Common Challenge Areas
- Related Education