[Johannesburg, 6 December 2017]: The Institute for Timber Construction South Africa (ITC-SA), SAQA-registered Professional Body for the engineered timber construction industry, hosted a Roof Inspector Training Course at its Isando offices from 21 to 23 November. Well attended by delegates including engineers, quality home inspectors, fabricators and erectors, the course has both delivered on its main aims and has further reaching implications for the South African construction sector.

The main objectives of the Roof Inspector Training Course were to enable technical professionals in the construction industry to be able to carry out roof inspections with sufficient knowledge and insight, as well as enable registered persons to sign off on roofs.

Content covered basic roofing terminology, such as rafters, tie beams, webs, gables, hips, truncated hips, spans, overhangs, cantilevers as well as prefabricated/bolted methods and addressed the basics of timber design, including loading, information of the relevant codes, explanations of permissible stresses and limited state loading as well as tributary loading.

Bracing in roofs in general was also addressed, with a more practical look at the differences between lightly versus heavily loaded roofs based on field experiences presented in visual format. In addition, rafter bracing, including the need for different bracing systems as well as an overview of standard bracing details, was also presented.

Course content also touched on tie beams and web bracing, including standard bracing details, case studies showcasing roof failures and the reasons for these, as well as the administrative tasks involved in being a successful roof inspector. A general overview of the roofing industry in South Africa highlighted the main role players in the sector and what their responsibilities are in ensuring industry standards are upheld.

A balanced practical aspect was offered as well, as students visited two different construction sites; one with a timber roof built to standard and another with a timber roof in distress due to ineffective bracing. The site visits made for lively discussions around site observations, ethics in the line of roof inspections and the potential entrepreneurial opportunities available to roof inspectors.

The Roof Inspector Training Courses concluded with a slide show and discussion of non-compliant roofs and their consequences as well as a non-compulsory written evaluation.

Roof Inspector as a professional designation

While all delegates who graduate from the training course will enjoy enhanced knowledge on the subject of roof inspections, not all of them will graduate as ITC-SA Certified Roof Inspectors. This designation is only obtained through compliance with a number of basic requirements including an academic component, practical or workplace experience, a board examination or competency assessment.

A Certified Roof Inspector is defined as a practicing professional who will traditionally come from the built environment, must have prior experience in roof design and construction, and should preferably have a recognized qualification (NQF level 5) in the built environment.

A Certified Roof Inspector can be registered in this designation, but may only inspect roofs within the specified category, as per below and depending on their proven competencies:

  • Category A – (High Risk): Very complex roofs
  • Category B – (Medium Risk): Complex domestic and simple industrial and commercial roofs, including up to 10 metre spans
  • Category C – (Low Risk): Simple roofs up to and including 8.5 metre span with standard loadings
  • Category D – (Low Risk)

Laying the foundations for better built environment

According to National Coordinator of the ITC-SA, Amanda Obbes, “With a strong call from various sectors and initiatives to explore and harness the many advantages of timber as a sound material with which to build both public buildings and low-cost housing, timber is poised to be used on a much larger scale for both construction and roofing.”

“Training events such as the recently held Roof Inspector Training Course are thus the building blocks of an industry that not only operates in line with all National Building Regulations, but that is competent in correcting itself when this is not the case,” Obbes explains, concluding, “This is essential for an industry that will have a tremendous role to play in the future of greener, more sustainable and compliant building practices.”