Condition Assessment Reports

A.D. White House

Constructed c.1871, this Victorian Gothic mansion was home to Cornell University’s first president, Andrew Dickson White.  The building currently houses the Cornell University Society for the Humanities, though a private office/retreat is still reserved for use by presidents.  The house was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973.

Levine & Company prepared a feasibility study for restoring the upper hipped roof of the building.  The study contained an assessment of the existing conditions of the building’s upper hipped roof and seven brick masonry chimneys, photographs, recommendations, and detailed discussions of alternative treatments, and associated estimates of probable construction cost for the recommended work.

The survey revealed that the existing EPDM roof suffered from cracked and brittle membrane flashings, open seams, and numerous temporary patches.  In addition, it was aesthetically inappropriate to the historic building and did not meet current code requirements with regard to wind uplift.  Replacement of the roof was recommended.  Archival research suggested that the original roofing material on the Upper Hipped roof had been standing seam metal, though by the early 20th century, it was covered with slate shingles.  The slate shingles were replaced by asphalt shingles c.1950, which were subsequently covered with the existing EPDM membrane system in 1990.  Levine & Company presented two historically appropriate options for the new roof system – standing seam copper (which would be in keeping with the original roofing material) and dimensional asphalt shingles (which would yield a similar appearance to the slate and asphalt shingles which covered the Upper Hipped roof for the longest period of the building’s history ).

The chimneys were in various states of disrepair, with those associated with the original portion of the house (c.1871) in the worst condition.  Careful dismantling and rebuilding was recommended, to varying degrees, for each chimney, along with raking out and repointing of deteriorated mortar joints and installation of new copper flashings and raised bluestone chimney caps.

Subsequent to the study, L&Co. prepared construction documents and provided construction observation services for replacement of the upper hipped roof with new standing seam copper roofing.

Project Highlights

Cost of Construction: NA

Project Size: 1,700 square feet

Trades: NA

Primary Roofing Materials: Slate shingles, EPDM roofing, copper flashings

Bradford County Courthouse

The County Commissioners sought guidance with regard to the condition of the existing copper shingle roof system of the c.1896 Courthouse, with a focus on the estimated remaining service life of the roof system and whether it should be retained and repaired or removed and replaced.

Levine & Company, Inc. assessed the condition of the existing copper shingles, including fasteners, underlayment, underlying coverboard, and roof deck; a small EPDM low-slope roof; copper and lead flashings; and rainwater conduction systems.  Working with an engineer, the team also evaluated the exterior masonry walls, masonry cornices, and steel roof framing.

The survey revealed that while the existing copper shingles were in relatively good condition and likely had a decade or two of remaining service life, the threat of blow-off in high winds due to the inadequacy of the fasteners used to secure the shingles in place, and the lack of pull-out resistance of the substrate to which the shingles were secured made replacement, rather than repair, the recommended course of action.

The Condition Assessment Report included discussions of relevant historical research regarding past and present roofing materials, temporary repair recommendations, explanations of three options for roof replacement, and order of magnitude estimates of probable construction cost for each option.  Further investigations were also recommended, including flood testing of the copper shingles to determine whether they are subject to leakage due to the relatively low roof slope and, hence, whether they can remain in consideration as a possible roof replacement material.  The report was subsequently followed by a second condition assessment report regarding the green-glazed terra cotta tile roofing on the Courthouse’s dome, as well as preparation of Schematic Design documents for replacement of the roofs.

Levine & Company’s existing condition assessment report won first place in the Report category in RCI Inc.’s 2015 Document Competition.

 Project Highlights

Cost of Construction: NA

Project Size: 12,885 square feet

Trades: NA

Primary Roofing Materials: Copper shingles, terra cotta tiles, copper flashings and built-in gutter liners

Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church

Bryn Mawr Presbyterian Church’s campus is comprised of the Converse House (constructed in 1911 and serving as the pastor’s residence until 1958), Sanctuary (constructed in 1927), Education Building (constructed in 1931), Chapel (constructed in 1940 to replace the original Sanctuary and Sunday School Building), Activities Building (constructed in 1967), and Ministries Center (constructed in 1990), as well as two porte cocheres, and a cloister.

Levine & Company prepared a condition assessment report for the exterior envelopes of all of the buildings on the campus.  The report focused on seven primary concerns reported by the Owner, as well as an overall evaluation of the existing conditions of the exterior envelopes.  The report was divided into two sections.  Section 1 contained the findings of the targeted leak investigations based on the Owner’s reported concerns, presented recommendations for addressing observed deficiencies, and supplied estimates of probable construction cost for each recommendation.  Section 2 described the overall existing condition of each building, prioritizing the issues by element – roofing, masonry, and windows and doors. Each deficiency was keyed to a photo elevation/sketch plan and accompanied by a photograph, recommendations for repair or rehabilitation, and associated estimates of probable construction cost for the recommended work. Alternative recommendations were provided where service life, cost, aesthetic, and preservation considerations warranted.

Sources of deterioration/water infiltration were pinpointed at each of the seven critical locations covered in Section 1 of the report and prudent repairs were recommended to mitigate the leaks, including masonry rebuilding and repointing, releading of stained glass windows, painting corroded steel window frames, repairing corroded steel window lintels, and replacing flashings, gussets, and scuppers at roofs. Section 2 of the report concluded that the buildings, in general, were in good condition.  Deficiencies observed were primarily the result of natural weathering, service life limitations, lack of maintenance, and inappropriate past repairs and needed to be addressed to prevent further damage to the buildings.

Subsequent to the report, Levine & Company worked with a team of design professionals to prepare construction documents and provide construction observation services for temporary repairs to the exterior envelopes of the buildings and rehabilitate the Chapel roof.  Additional rehabilitation phases are anticipated in accordance with the preliminary phasing plan presented in the report.

The report earned Levine & Company first place in the reports category of the 2012 RCI Document Competition.

Project Highlights

Cost of Construction: NA

Project Size: 41,000+ square feet

Trades: NA

Primary Roofing Materials: Slate shingles, modified bitumen roofing, copper flashings

Gilman Hall

Gilman Hall was constructed c.1914 as the first academic building on Johns Hopkins University’s new Homewood campus.  Today, the building is an intellectual centerpiece of the arts and sciences school and a majestic presence on the quadrangle.

In light of differing opinions about the condition of the building’s existing graduated slate roof and the related scope of work that should be included in the imminent $73 million renovation project, the University desired guidance as to whether repair or replacement of the roof would be the most prudent course of action.  Levine & Company surveyed the building’s 94-year-old slate roof, including existing built-in gutters and flashings, low-slope roofs, barrel vaulted standing seam copper dormer roofs, a batten seam copper gable roof, and a flat seam copper dome.  The findings of the survey were presented in an existing condition assessment report, complete with photographs, recommendations for an appropriate course of action regarding the slate roof, and order of magnitude estimates of probable construction cost for the recommended work.

The existing slate shingles were still in good condition, likely having a remaining service life of 40 to 50 years, and did not need to be replaced at the time of the survey.  Instead, rehabilitation was recommended, including replacement of cracked, broken, and missing slate shingles along with flashing repairs to prevent water infiltration into the building.  The fact that the original slates had been installed in a Portland cement mortar setting bed made slate repair a very challenging prospect and required innovative repair techniques, which Levine & Company outlined in the report and subsequently helped implement in a later construction phase.  In addition to slate repair, Levine & Company recommended replacement, in kind, of the existing, deteriorated batten seam copper gable roof and flat seam copper dome roof.

Levine & Company’s existing condition assessment report won first place in the Report category in RCI Inc.’s 2010 Document Competition.

Project Highlights

Cost of Construction: NA

Project Size: 23,560 square feet

Trades: NA

Primary Roofing Materials: Slate shingles, copper roofing and flashings, built-up roofing

Washington Memorial Chapel

The Chapel was constructed between 1912 and 1917 to the design of Philadelphia architect Milton Medary.  Several later additions were constructed in the 1930’s and the 1950’s, including the present day bell tower.

Levine & Company prepared a comprehensive roofing condition assessment report for the Chapel’s ten roof areas and associated flashings and rainwater conduction systems.  Roof systems surveyed include slate, flat seam copper, EPDM, built-up roofing, spray foam, and corrugated metal.  The report contained detailed descriptions of observed conditions, as well as photographs, and prioritized repair recommendations.  The condition of exterior masonry walls and windows were assessed by another member of the survey team as part of an overall building envelope study.

Active leaks in various locations throughout the buildings had resulted in efflorescence and damaged interior finishes.  Potential sources of water infiltration at each location were identified and repair recommendations outlined as part of the condition assessment.  The low-slope roofs were found to be at or nearing the end of their service lives and suffering from deficiencies including surface mounted counterflashings, inadequate base flashing height, skyward facing reglets at roof edge terminations, and insufficient slope toward roof drains.  Replacement recommendations were prioritized based on the estimated remaining service life of each roof.  One flat seam copper roof was in good condition with the exception of its built-in gutter, which suffered from cracked seams and fatigue cracks due to thermal movement that was not properly accommodated.  Recommendations included temporary repairs to stem water infiltration and active leaks in the short-term, as well as a time frame and options for replacement of the gutters.  Slate roofs were in very good condition with several decades of remaining service life.  Lead counterflashings and thru-wall flashings suffered from fatigue cracks and poor detailing.  Built-in copper gutters and copper apron flashings at the slate roofs were poorly detailed and poorly installed resulting in cracked seams and exposed edges.  Temporary repairs were recommended to mitigate water infiltration in the short-term, along with long-term options for gutter replacement.  Numerous deficiencies in the rainwater conduction systems, including downspouts with burst rear seams and rust holes in galvanized hanging gutters, allowed water to flow down the exterior masonry walls, resulting in efflorescence, biological growth, and erosion at grade.  Recommendations for replacement of deteriorated hanging gutters and downspouts, the addition of diverters in some locations, and rehabilitation of leader heads and scupper tubes were included in the report to resolve these issues.

Project Highlights

Cost of Construction: NA

Project Size: 10,100 square feet

Trades: NA

Primary Roofing Materials: Slate shingles, flat seam copper, EPDM, built-up roofing, spray foam, corrugated metal, and lead, copper, and galvanized steel flashings

Additional Key Projects

American Swedish Historical Museum, Philadelphia, PA

Built in 1926, the Museum is the oldest Swedish Museum in the United States.  A quarter of the existing upper standing seam copper roof had peeled back during a storm.  Subsequently, the Museum had received differing opinions from contractors regarding the reason for the failure and how to proceed with repair/replacement.  Levine & Company’s report provided a thorough explanation for the partial roof blow-off and provided replacement recommendations.  The report also addressed the existing conditions of the entire standing seam roof and gutters, as well as recommendations for repair of observed deficiencies.

Douglas County Watkins Community Museum of History, Lawrence, KS

Housed in an historic, Romanesque-style bank building with a beautiful red slate roof dating from the 1880s, the Museum experienced only minor damage from a severe mid-western hail storm.  After 3 prior evaluations by others, Levine & Company was retained to document the extent of the damage and provide definitive recommendations with regard to repair and replacement of the roof and the estimated construction cost of each to assist in the settlement of an insurance claim.

Edgar F. Bunce Hall, Rowan University, Glassboro, NJ

A feasibility study concerning restoration of the existing cupola and portico was prepared by Levine & Company for the University's oldest building, which now serves as a backdrop for commencement ceremonies.  The study includes observations and discussion of the copper clapboard cladding, copper flat seam roofing and gutters, window restoration, the weathervane, a bas relief of the state seal, and paint systems.

First Presbyterian Church, Haddonfield, NJ

Following an Existing Condition Assessment report covering the roofs, flashings, and rainwater conduction systems of the c.1906 Church, Levine & Company provided construction documents and construction observation for replacement of existing roofing systems.  Existing artificial slate roofing was replaced with a combination of natural slate and dimensional asphalt shingles, deteriorated low-slope roofs and flat seam copper gussets were replaced with a combination of flat seam copper and fluid-applied membrane.  In addition, the project included installation of new copper flashings, hanging gutters, pole gutters, built-in gutters, and downspouts.

First Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, PA

This High Victorian Gothic Church was constructed between 1869 and 1872 with the addition of the Bell Tower in 1900.  Levine & Company prepared a comprehensive exterior envelope conditions assessment report for three buildings, including steep-slope and low-slope roofing systems, rainwater conduction systems, exterior masonry, and windows.  The report contained detailed  descriptions of  observed conditions, as well as photographs, prioritized recommendations, and associated estimates of probable construction cost for  recommended work.

Gideon F. Egner Chapel, Muhlenberg College, Allentown, PA

In response to the College’s concern regarding active leaks inside the Chapel, Levine & Company conducted a leak investigation.  The report documented sources of water infiltration at six existing leak locations and included repair recommendations for addressing observed deficiencies with associated estimates of probable construction cost.  Further investigations, including flood testing, test openings, and additional site observations were recommended throughout the report to help better define the cause of the ongoing water infiltration and the scope of rehabilitation work required.

 Our Lady of Hope Church, Philadelphia, PA

The Church, originally called Holy Child Church, was constructed in 1930.  In two condition assessment reports, Levine & Company documented the condition of 27 of the Church’s roofs.  Masonry walls of the Church’s 180-foot tall tower, stained glass windows, and low-slope roofs around the base of the tower were included in the first report, as well as rehabilitation recommendations and associated cost estimates.  The second report focused on the expected remaining service life of the remaining roofs, identified short-term and long-term repairs, where warranted, and provided cost estimates for the recommended work.

 Scranton Cultural Center, Scranton, PA

Originally built c.1929 as the Masonic Temple and Scottish Rite Cathedral, the Scranton Cultural Center was designed by Raymond Hood, the architect of the Tribune Tower in Chicago and Rockefeller Center in Manhattan.  Levine & Company surveyed the overall conditions of the building’s seven roofs and five balconies and provided repair recommendations for addressing observed deficiencies.  Numerous active, periodic, and infrequent leaks reported by the owner were thoroughly investigated and potential sources of water infiltration at each location were discussed.  Temporary repairs were recommended, where warranted, as well as long-term repairs for each roof and leak location, along with estimated construction costs and a recommended time frame for completing long-term repairs.

St. Vincent de Paul, Philadelphia, PA

Condition assessment report of existing standing seam and flat seam terne or tin plate roofing, wide built-in gutter, and large, copper-clad wood cornices.  The Church was constructed in the mid-nineteenth century and the roofing systems were very likely original, having been coated and recoated numerous times.  The report included recommendations for addressing each component, along with a discussion of different material options for roof and gutter replacement, the advantages and disadvantages of each option, and its expected service life.

The Mann Center, Philadelphia, PA

The outdoor performing arts venue is a Philadelphia icon.  Levine & Company’s survey focused on two concerns reported by the Owner - reddish-brown staining exhibited by some of the terne coated stainless steel cladding panels and sagging of the metal-clad soffits.  Existing conditions of the built-in gutters were also assessed and repair recommendations for the gutters and soffits were provided along with estimated costs.  In addition, several means of removing the red lead oxide staining were tested by a Conservator working in conjunction with Levine & Company and a thorough explanation of the results was included in the report.

Vandenberg Hall, SUNY New Paltz, New Paltz, NY

The report focused on identifying the source of active leaks and assessing the condition of an existing, severely deformed snow rail system.  Existing conditions of the batten seam lead coated copper roof system were also evaluated.  The report provided an estimate of the roof’s remaining service life, recommendations for repairs of observed deficiencies, and cost estimates for the recommended work.

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