Safer Rooftop Access for Umbrella Works

Safer Rooftop Access for Umbrella Works (Apartments)

Rooftop Safety Systems — Mid-Atlantic


Umbrella Work apartments have had a long relationship with the Houck team, as has their management company, HDC MidAtlantic. As part of their ongoing process to make their rooftops safer for everyone, the company turned to the Houck team to develop a solution for accessing the roof at Umbrella Works in a safer manner.


Existing Conditions

The building’s existing rooftop access had a walk-out doorway but involved a complicated process of opening the door, swinging a leg over the bottom of the doorframe, and then descending four or five feet to the rooftop below using a rickety wooden ladder. It was a little scary, to say the least. In fact, the building’s manager wouldn’t even go on the roof because of the complicated process of getting out there.

The existing wall ladder to access the higher portion of the roof needed to be addressed as well. It was very old and attached to the building in a place where someone had the potential to fall to the ground in the event of a slip. This ladder would be moved to a safer location as part of the project too.

Delivering Solutions

For project manager Ray Newlin, this was a challenge that he knew the Houck team could provide a solution for. “I told the manager that I would come up with a solution that he would be confident in using to access the roof,” says Newlin. “I even asked him if, when we were done, he would come out onto the roof and share a meal with us.”

Newlin contacted Jay’s Railings to come to the site so he could explain his vision. “I told him what I was envisioning, and he was able to draw it up, and custom fabricate it for me,” said Newlin. “My job as the account manager is to listen to what the customer wants to accomplish and then make that happen for them within their budget limitations.”

The Installation

Arranging the installation took some perseverance as the Houck team needed to bring in a crane to load the materials to the rooftop. The project required coordinating with an adjacent church that housed a school. The church had specific insurance requirements that each party needed to meet, and they insisted that no work could be done while students were being bussed in and out of the school.

“We ended up performing the installation during a school holiday so we wouldn’t have to worry about the students being present, and we could spend the whole day there with no worries,” said Newlin.

The installation of the system was smooth and uneventful. The building manager was thrilled with the new, safer access to the rooftop and even joined the Houck team for breakfast on the roof, using the innovative new ladder and platform.

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