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Habitat Magazine Insider Guide



Leak Fix: Like a Roof Raincoat

The problem. We had a property that had sprung leaks all over the top floor apartments and into the hallways and needed to do repairs very, very quickly. Scoping out the work, getting specs and bidding out the project would have taken months. Our engineer, Jack Caliendo of Desman Associates, told us about Neogard, which is a system that involves painting a silicone coating on the roof that is watertight. We had an area that was leaking into an apartment previously, and he suggested doing a patch test. He told us that if it worked, we might have a solution for the entire building without having to completely tear out the roof and put in a new one.


On the house. Neogard said they would do the application for free and not charge us a penny, and if we decided to go ahead they’d give us a proposal. We figured it was certainly worth a shot. So we did the patch test, and to our delight that apartment was 100% watertight. But within three or four months we started getting other leaks, which is when we decided to go ahead and do the whole roof. 


Seal of approval. The first thing we did was an infrared scan to determine the areas of the roof that were fully saturated with water, which would have to be totally removed down to the decking. You’d think that would be a simple job, but it’s not so simple when you have asbestos in an original roof that’s 60 years old. So we removed the asbestos, and they filled the deck and then coated the roof. It’s over 12,000 square feet, but they were able to finish the job in about two weeks. It cost $167,000, as opposed to $600,000 for a full tear-down, which would have taken months. And they actually completed the work under schedule, which is shocking these days because usually every contractor goes past the original schedule. The product is working beautifully. We’ve had torrential downpours, and it’s been completely watertight.

Value added. There are other benefits, too. We have energy savings because it’s a white application with high-grade insulators. And the warranty is 20 years. Fortunately, the roof is structurally sound, and we don’t have any weakened or deteriorated areas. That gives us plenty of time if we want to do a full tear-down and put in an amenity like a deck or install solar panels or a green roof. All of that is on our discussion agenda going forward. It’s a win-win for everybody. Neogard is not a new technology — the company has been around for about 50 years, but I hadn’t heard about it. It’s the world’s best-kept secret, but I’m definitely going to be spreading the word to our other buildings.

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