In what is arguably the largest steep slope reroofing project in United States history, property management giant Burlington Capital contracted with the U.S. Air Force (USAF) for the reroofing of a nearly 2,000-home community in Bellevue, Neb.

On June 20, 2017, two tornadoes packing winds exceeding 110 mph touched down on the south side of Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue, causing roughly $20 million in damage.

“(The tornadoes took) almost the worst possible path,” said Col. Dave Norton, commander of the 55th Wing Mission Support Group. “It’s remarkable that no one was hurt.”

However, the two tornadoes were just a precursor of a greater natural disaster. The day after the 13 insurance adjusters had finished their work, an intense hailstorm destroyed or damaged nearly every roof and countless other exterior products.

The roofing project at Burlington Capital’s Rising View housing development turned into a 40,000-square monster almost overnight.

With a portfolio that included 300 properties totaling 55,000 units in 39 states, the Omaha-based management company is responsible for maintaining the nearly 2,000 homes outside the gates of the military base. But Burlington Capital had never experienced a restoration project of this magnitude.

“We needed to deliver a great (roofing) product to the Air Force while taking extensive care to minimize the inconveniences to our residents,” said Dominic Vaccaro, president, real estate, at Burlington Capital.

What Vaccaro needed was a nationally-recognized contractor specializing in roof inspection and repairs with the proven ability to handle a multi-million-dollar project. Not to mention the ability to provide siding, gutter and window replacement, along with the installation of four million square feet of roofing shingles under the tightest of schedules.

As it turned out, a contractor with all of these qualifications was just a mere 15-minute drive from the Air Force base with a national office in Omaha.

Founded in 1973 by President Lee Hustad in Madison, Wisc., Hustad Roofing has built its reputation on personalized service and expert installations. Executive Vice President Eric Caturia convinced Burlington Capital’s management team that it could finish the project within the established three-month window.

Impact Resistance a Must

Hustad and its client agreed that choosing an impact-resistant shingle was a top priority. The key question was where would Hustad find four million square feet of it on such short notice?

Compounding the problem was the fact that the demand for asphalt shingles in the U.S. reached near-record levels by the summer of 2017, due a series of serious weather events.

Hustad, a GAF Master Elite® Contractor, turned to the company based in Parsippany, N.J. and the choice of shingle was obvious to Caturia: GAF Timberline® ArmorShield II SBS modified IR shingles. This product passes the industry’s toughest impact resistance test: UL 2218 Class 4. The product is also warranted to withstand wind speeds up to 130 mph with special installation.

A total of about 200 trailer-truck loads of shingles and roofing accessories made their way to Bellevue, which represented a huge logistical effort due to the high shingle demand at the time. ABC Supply of Omaha also gets credit for accurately accounting for every delivery, officials said.

Over the years, Hustad made, and then nurtured, relationships with roofing contractors throughout the Midwest. Caturia sent out the call for help and contractors who have worked with Hustad for 10 years or more responded after completing their current projects.

“We started out with eight or 10 crews running 50 to 60 workers and peaked at 35 crews as the project progressed,” Caturia said.

Offutt is Key to Nation’s Defense

“If anything, the military was understandably much more demanding in our drying in and repairing people’s homes due to the importance of their job functions at the base,” Caturia explained.

The base is manned and operated 24/7, and a good portion of the military and civilian staffers are required to sleep during the day. For many, rest would be difficult or impossible with tear-off and reroofing work occurring at distances of anything less than 100 yards.

“It was imperative we get our crews in and out as quickly as possible, which is one of the reasons the project required such a large labor force,” Caturia said. “The commanding generals were very concerned about the health and welfare of their men and women during this project.”

This comes as no surprise, when one learns exactly what goes on day and night inside the gates of this military facility.

Offutt Air Force Base is home to the United States Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM, formerly the Strategic Air Command) and the 55th Air Wing. Among many other classified duties, the men and women at Offutt provide unprecedented nuclear command and control and alternate missile warning center capabilities 24/7 for the U.S. Dept. of Defense.

“The residents of this busy neighborhood were ‘not loving’ the fact that every single house in the area was being reroofed at almost the same time,” Caturia said. “In the end, we managed to coordinate (the disposal of roofing debris) and install up to 300 sheets of plywood and 40,000 squares of roofing with minimal complaints.”

The larger portion of Caturia’s workforce finished 25 to 30 duplexes per day, which put an almost unbearable strain on Bellevue housing inspectors that were required to approve underlayment work and make a second final roof inspection on each home.

“The city had a ‘bad’ experience several years ago,” Caturia explained. “And typically, incorrect installation or missing underlayment and/or ice and water protection accounts for most roofing problems down the road.”

The company installed a synthetic roofing felt underlayment, followed by WeatherWatch® Leak Barrier at eaves and rakes, valleys and other vulnerable areas of the roof. Seal-A-Ridge® ArmorShield Impact Resistant Ridge Cap Shingles and GAF ventilation products completed the roofing package.

At times, Hustad had up to 40 duplexes dried in and awaiting city inspection of the underlayment.

Each duplex also had its own insurance scope-of-loss, detailing all the damage to that particular structure. The company repaired siding, gutters, windows, screening, and garage doors, with each building requiring a different scope of work.

Hustad’s vast experience dealing with storm damage and resultant insurance claims were critical to the successful completion of the project.

“There was no doubt that on a job of this size, the eyes of the insurance adjusters must have glossed over a little bit,” Caturia said.

More recently, Hustad has been reviewing the claims, finding any missing line items that were not included, and re-inspecting the 300 roofs that were not a total loss that were partially repaired. These steps helped to ensure the client that each duplex was adequately repaired and nothing was missed the first time around.

When asked what part of the project was most challenging for him personally, Caturia was quick to respond that it was the 100,000 pages of insurance paperwork for 900-plus structures.

“Hustad Companies Inc. proved to be an outstanding resource and delivered on an aggressive schedule to replace or repair roofs and complete additional exterior repairs,” Vaccaro said.

“As the owner and manager of the privatized housing community at Offutt Air Force Base, I would recommend Hustad Companies to any owner or entity facing similar challenges.”