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Pros and Cons of Rooftop Billboards

Updated: Aug 1, 2023

What’s important in a rooftop lease?

To clarify, rooftop leases are billboards that are connected to the roof with angle iron and are supported by loadbearing walls. The lease should specifically state that the Outdoor company needs to keep the rooftop clear of waste and debris, such as bolts, straps and vinyls. Otherwise you end up with clogged downpipes during a rainstorm which increases the chances of leaks inside the building. Who is responsible for replacing or fixing the roof when a leak occurs is important. The connections that are in the load bearing walls have a tendency to rust. Also, those areas around the connections to the load bearing walls tend to pool with water and snow and you get rot. So the lease should be clear on who’s responsible for patching around the connections of the load bearing walls?

Rooftop removal clauses

When it comes to removing the billboard, what is the Outdoor company responsible for removing? Is the Outdoor company responsible for opening up the roof and taking the connections off of the load bearing wall. Or are they responsible for cutting it off just above the connections to the roof? Most Outdoor companies will write the Lease so they can cut the angle iron just above the roof. As long as the Outdoor company doesn’t open the roof as part of the demolition they are not responsible for future leaks. Make sure that the demolition clause is specific to the demolition of a rooftop lease.

A billboard on top of a rooftop
Challenging rooftop build on Wilshire Boulevard. Note methane release pipe at top of billboard.

A challenging rooftop build

I built a location back in the 1990’s in Los Angeles where rooftop signs were prohibited. Although your standard rooftop billboard could not be built, the City allowed for spearing the roof and the foundation. My Contractor and foreman on the job was Richard Dulaney, he was one of the best in the business. We opened up the roof of the building large enough to allow for the 42” column to be lowered into the building. We took a small auger inside the warehouse, broke the foundation of the building and drilled a 5’ x 30’ hole. We then dropped the column through the roof of the building down to the foundation. Besides this being very difficult on the corner of La Cienega and Wilshire Boulevard, and the superstructure had to be built in the air, it was also a high methane area. While the crane is placing the column in the ground and pouring the concrete through the building, we had to place a special rubber diaphragm so methane didn’t leak into the building. Also within the building we had to place a methane detector. At the top of the billboard where the flange met the superstructure we had to place a vent in the column to allow the methane to be released through the top of the billboard. Then when we closed up the roof around the column we had to place another rubber diaphragm so the column wouldn’t damage the roof during high winds and earthquakes. It was a very long expensive build for us. OUTFRONT now operates that billboard.

You can also check out this article on Billboard Insider.

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