Special Capitol Hill Multi-Family Roofing Project

Building crane uti lized to haul heavy supplies to roof

Capitol Hill is considered to be one of the most family-oriented, walkable, and close knit communities in the entire DC area. The beautiful, mostly brick rowhouses have many different architectural styles including Queen Anne, Federal, and Richardsonian Romanesque, among numerous others. The different choices of the original builders add to the charm of the Hill.

It is easy to overlook the many multifamily residential buildings on the Hill that are usually mixed in with the rowhouses. These condo buildings, apartments, and converted churches and schools offer many lifestyle choices to families and also to the singles community that is thriving on the Hill. Many residents are Hill staffers for Congress and the Senate, attorneys at downtown law firms, employees of associations and nonprofits, or even a member of Congress or a senator.

These buildings are usually owned by family businesses, real estate partnerships, apartment investors, and the like. The roofing problems of the building owners are not dissimilar to the problems of individual homeowners. The buildings usually have flat and low slope roofs that need routine maintenance and replacement after a period of time. But there are numerous other challenges to the owners and to the roofing firms doing the work. Often there are numerous HVAC structures, satellite dish platforms, large vents, and skylights that create a complex situation for the replacement of the roof.

Our firm has replaced numerous roofs on these larger buildings on the Hill, and one such project was near Union Station at Third Street and Massachusetts Avenue NE.

The building is a large, 30+ unit apartment building that was built many years ago and is attached to two different office buildings. Directly across Third Street is a residential neighborhood of typical Capitol Hill rowhouses. The building height is 80+ feet and abuts the sidewalk on Third Street and a parking lot on the side. It is a five-story building with no elevators. The roof was an older rubber roof that was at the end of its useful life and needed to be removed and replaced with a modified bitumen roofing system. The tactics to do the job were challenging and complex. The roof was too high to access by ladders. It was not feasible to use scaffolding to get access to the roof because we could not block the busy sidewalk for a week or more. Nor could we site the scaffolding in the parking lot, which was used by the commercial tenants of the adjacent building.

The only possible solution was to deploy a large boom lift encased in a mobile truck housing unit parked in the parking lot, and to do the loading of materials on a Sunday (when the lot was not being used). The old roofing materials would also have to be off-loaded down to the ground. The entire project took about a week, and the roofing crew accessed the roof by climbing the five flights of stairs each day. It’s a lot of extra work when you consider the physical nature of roofing work in general!

The rooftop had several large skylights, a pop-up structure that housed the stairwell, significant flashing that had to be connected to the brick walls of the adjacent office buildings, and many larger roof vents that had to be removed and new ones added. All of these structures had to be assessed to determine the best way to work around them and retain the integrity of the new roof.

While this was a special project, we have completed numerous other large, complex projects on Capitol Hill and in Georgetown and the Dupont Circle area. It is interesting and challenging work that we look forward to.

Building crane uti lized to haul heavy supplies to roof
View of fi nished new roof and vents

Tom Daniel is owner and general manager of R. Thomas Daniel Roofing LLC. He is the third generation of the family to provide roofing services to Capitol Hill homeowners over the course of nearly 100 years. Tom was born on Capitol Hill and is an active supporter of numerous community organizations. For help with your roofing project he can be reached at 202-569-1080, 202-544-4430, or tom@rthomasdanielroofing.com.

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