Installation issues occur in all areas of construction. Green roofs are not special in that regard, but there are a few issues green roof con tractors should keep in mind-and some tips for planning ahead to ensure success. Here are just a few of the many issues that can occur, and need to be thought about before beginning the installation.

1 – Contractor Communication

Let’s face it, at times the general contrac­tor’s (GC) understanding of green roof components are minimal. Constant com­munication is necessary to ensure that the GC recognizes that all materials have been installed correctly and will perform accord­ingly. Lack of communication can result in delays and numerous site tours.

2 – Leak Test

Please get one done. Nothing tempers the excitement of a beautiful green roof more than a leak that could have been discovered prior to the installation.

3 – Green Roof Maintenance Prior to, During, and After Install

You need a green roof maintenance plan­ from day one. Imagine this scenario: A 100 degree day with plants sitting in a sun­baked parking lot waiting to be brought up to the roof. Then a problem occurs on the roof, delaying installation for three days and leaving those plants without water. Construction delays occur quite frequently, putting plants at risk; it is therefore crucial to prepare and plan for such circumstances. If the plan is survive this first phase, and we safely installed on the roof, the next phase of maintenance begins. There needs to be a green roof maintenance plan in place during this crucial time period-before the building is complete and the owner’s main­tenance crew begins their care.

4 – Clear Plans

On a job site things are not always con­structed according to architectural plans. This is especially common with roofing plans. A skylight may have moved or water and electricity may not have made it out to the roof where you need to work. Architectural and landscape plans are the green roof contractor’s guide to the intent of the designer. If the plans aren’t clear or complete, the final product may not be what the owner expects, and costly change orders may occur.

5 – Coordination with Other Trades

Whether you are on a commercial or residential green roof installation, the rooftop can be a really busy place. Learning to “play well with others” makes for a smooth instal­lation. Without coordination, you often have to wait for other trades to finish their work or move their materials.

6 – Water Access

No water equals dead plants, unless cacti are utilized in the majority of the planting plan. Ensure that water is available from a hose bib, metered fire hydrant or other water source. This limits time spent dragging a hose or filling five-gallon buckets in the bathroom sink.

7 – Green Roof Access

Because of the park-like feel of many green roofs, the newly constructed green roof can become a break area for workers on site. To manage traffic, lay protection down or tape off areas to ensure plantings are not damaged by foot traffic or other trades’ work. This needs to occur both during and after the construction of the green roof.

~ Andy Creath is the owner of Green Roofs of Colorado and a GRHC course instructor who teaches Advanced Green Roof Maintenance.