In July 2013 work began on constructing the planting bed for our rooftop garden. The first step was to prepare the existing roof and masonry for the steel framing to support the new roof deck.
On August 18 our contractor Planet Construction arranged to crane in the steel beams. In earlier years the street had been closed off for attempts to evict Umbrella House; this time the street was closed for us to make an amazing improvement to the building!
After framing was completed the steel was painted with intumescent (fireproof) paint and concrete planking installed as part of the new deck.
All construction projects involve unique challenges, problems and delays. The scope-of-work for our roof project also included repointing and repairs to the north, south and rear masonry walls. While undertaking this work in late 2013 our contractor brought to our attention issues with the masonry walls that were more extensive than initially identified, and probing and planning was done to revise the scope and to estimate additional costs required to address these conditions.
Additionally, tar that many decades earlier had been applied to two of the masonry walls was found to contain asbestos. This required hiring a subcontractor specializing in asbestos abatement, an increase in costs, and a delay to the project.
Although the asbestos embedded in the tar was non-friable (it could not be crumbled, pulverized, or reduced to powder by hand pressure, and the fibers could not become airborne) we were nevertheless required to remove it in compliance with the City’s regulations. This included installing an emergency shower on the roof workspace, and ongoing air monitoring.
The Department of Buildings issued the permit for asbestos abatement in May 2014, but work did not begin until July, and took several months to accomplish, as it required close coordination between the masonry and abatement crews.
In September both the masonry and asbestos abatement were completed and the paperwork filed with the City’s Department of Environmental Protection. The contractor was then able to complete construction of the deck for our new planting bed: installing rigid insulation, a protective membrane and drainage board on top of the concrete planking.
On December 31, 2014 the soil mix for our rooftop garden was delivered; burlap was placed over the soil to keep it from blowing away over the winter; and we waited impatiently for spring.