A building’s main defense against a harsh Western Cape climate, known for its wet, rainy and extreme temperature fluctuations, is its roof. Yet, the attention paid to reinforcing the integrity of this vital outer defense system of a building is often, surprisingly, little. One company that understands the importance of maintaining a strong roof structure is SBH Cotton Mills in Epping, Cape Town.

The barrel-shaped roof is one of the largest industrial roofs in the Western Cape. Waterproofers, Indawo Painting and Waterproofing, commissioned to install a new waterproofing system on the roof confirm that it was not just the sheer magnitude of the project that was a challenge. When commencing the project, Indawo discovered that previous contractors opted for inadequate waterproofing, resulting in several layers of different membranes, which could be one of the main reasons that could expose the building to more than threats of water damage.


Peter Jäck, managing director of Indawo, says, “The SBH Cotton Mills building’s roof is one of the largest of its kind that required waterproofing. Several layers of waterproofing had to be lifted exposing patch repairs rather than a safer and more comprehensive job. Not only do the layers compound the problem by masking any leaks, the enormous weight of layer upon layer of obsolete and ineffective waterproofing could be a contributing factor to the deterioration of the exterior integrity of the building.”


The sheer hugeness of the surface area of the roof, compounded by the barrel-shaped structure, tested the workforce to the limit when lifting the layers. High winds, extreme temperature fluctuations, interspersed with some late season rainfall, and a strict deadline to complete the project meant the crew had to pull out all the stops to finish. On top of this, it took more than 72 truckloads to remove the rubble off the site.


Jäck continues, “Challenges that face crews on roofs in the Western Cape include high winds, relentless rain and extreme fluctuations in daytime temperatures that cause discomfort for the workers and pose risks to their safety. All aspects of worker safety are taken seriously and they are monitored at all times on the roof.


“Safety of our workers and our clients is of paramount importance, especially when it comes to the control of a large workforce for a project of this size. The whole process of waterproofing can be dangerous. The torch on is done at extreme heat using gas and, coupled with the manual process involved, requires a special skill to avoid injury to not only the operator, but other workers on site. We monitor the workers’ safety at all times to ensure all relevant health and safety guidelines and procedures are adhered to.”


To secure the SBH building’s roof and to prevent further water ingress, Indawo laid a technologically advanced torch-on waterproofing system. A double-layer system was installed in the gutters, between the barrel structures and a 3-layer system on the balance of the roof, the final covering being a single layer mineral-surfaced heat-fused membrane, the latest in this technology from Italy, that offers maximum protection. Built-in windows, on the roof, had to be repaired and waterproofed and sufficient sloping run-offs for rainwater maintained between the barrel structures.


Indawo Painting and Waterproofing can be contacted on 021 941 5000 or email info@indawo.biz.

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