When companies need more warehouse space, the usual strategy is to add a wing onto an existing building or simply move into a larger facility. But what if those options aren't available? The solution, says Toronto, Ont.-based Rooflifters, is to build up, not out.
This unusual company literally raises the roof on buildings to increase the space available for storage. Rooflifters replaces a building's existing columns with its patented sliding columns, which act like jacks. After workmen separate the roof from the walls, the columns slowly raise the roof to the desired height. Then it's a matter of extending the walls upward and reattaching the roof. The painstakingly engineered process typically takes a few weeks and can be done in sections to avoid disrupting existing operations.
Rooflifters executives say their solution costs less than demolition and is far cheaper than building new. There is little material to dispose of, and the original roof, lighting, and sprinkler systems usually remain intact. Because the building's footprint is unchanged, a roof-lift usually isn't subject to the same regulations, zoning restrictions, and taxes as new construction.
Before-and-after photos, a Discovery Channel video, and case studies of such companies as Planter's Peanuts (which turned a long-vacant building into a modern distribution center on the cheap) can be found on Rooflifters' Web site.