THE ROOF ASSESSMENT
A good contractor is going to want to physically get his or her people up on the roof. Inspectors are sent into the field armed with tablet computers and high-tech, web-based software designed specifically for roofers.
They gather basic elements, such as the roof’s size and height, but also things the owner may simply not know, such as the roof’s age. They take pictures, take material samples, and look for flaws or signs of wear. They’ll talk to the tenants to find out if it leaks when it rains. They’ll talk to the manufacturer to gather even more data, such as if the roof is under warranty.
The contractor will then bundle the data gathered by the assessors into a report that is digestible to the building owner. This report should contain a “good, better, best” set of scenarios.
Is a good solution to fix cosmetic problems with Band-Aid solutions that will hold for a few years? Is the best solution to tear the entire roof off and start from scratch? If that isn’t in the budget, what better options do you have? This stage lays out the situation and a range of potential remedies.
The benefits of the digital age have turned this entire procedure from a days-long process into an hours-long process—and one in which data from a building in New Mexico can be instantly transmitted to an office hundreds of miles away.
When a roofer hands you, the owner—or potential owner—of a building an assessment report, he is arming you with the knowledge necessary to make an educated decision regarding the structural integrity of a building. It’s more than just a building, though. It’s a large part of your livelihood. Don’t sign a check before your roofer performs a check.
When installing or updating the roof of a commercial building, owners and property managers must consider the roof’s membrane – and how it impacts their investment. The right choice in membrane – as well as the potential upgrades and additional materials – determine the difference between a resistant, long-lasting roof and one that costs thousands in revenue expenditures due to premature deterioration. To help stabilize their P&L, managers should contemplate the following four aspects of membranes as part of the capital expenditures for this project.
1. MEMBRANE THICKNESS: UPGRADE TO 60-MIL
Though membranes are available in a 45-Mil format, upgrading to the thicker 60-Mil membrane provides considerable benefits that outweigh the additional material costs. 60-Mil membranes typically increases expenses by approximately 5% of the total building cost, but increase the roof’s lifespan by up to 33%. The durability of the thicker membrane increases its resistance to traffic, UV damage, chemicals, and other hazards. Because of the combination of high performance and value, 60-Mil membrane is the choice for the majority of facilities managers overseeing modern buildings.
2. COVER BOARD: REINFORCE THE MEMBRANE
An array of factors, from hail to dropped tools, can cause punctures in a single-ply membrane, no matter its thickness. Installing a cover board reinforces and strengthens the membrane, making it far more difficult to penetrate. Additionally, the cover board protects the insulation beneath.
However, cover boards vary greatly: from high thermal to low vapor permeability, fire-retardant to foil faced, there are extensive options to choose from. Selecting the appropriate type of cover board will substantially affect the roof’s durability, energy efficiency, and lifespan, as well as the cost of materials and installation.
3. WALK PADS: PREVENT PUNCTURES FROM MAINTENANCE CREWS
Walk pads are a worthwhile investment as a supplementary layer of protection between the roof and the activities on its surface. Membranes can abide frequent foot traffic from workers and maintenance crews, but the simple and effective addition of walk pads can protect against the potential punctures from the workers’ tools, debris, and machinery. In addition, they ensure adequate traction for personnel, reducing their risk of injury during maintenance operations.
4. SUSTAINABILITY: CHOOSE THE RIGHT MEMBRANE, REDUCE ENERGY EXPENSES
The type of membrane can significantly impact the building’s energy consumption and costs by supporting temperature control as it reflects or absorbs light. For example, TPO membranes work to reflect away light in hot, southern climates, thereby reducing cooling costs. Conversely, the insulation properties of EPDM membranes make them the more appropriate choice for cooler northern temperatures.
Large property assets always involve balancing capital versus revenue expenditures. Protect the building, prolong the roof’s lifespan, and reduce the unpredictable costs of avoidable repair and maintenance by investing in a thick, reinforced and protected membrane that reduces energy consumption. Upgrading the membrane requires relatively small up-front increases to the capital expenditures, but this leads to predictable spending accuracy and long-term savings. By selecting the right membrane, property managers have better control over their margins and therefore, their profits.
When considering purchasing a large building for commercial or industrial use, never forget to ask the question: Is the roof in good shape? The cost of repairing a roof or replacing one altogether is significant, so it’s always a good idea to inspect the roof and learn its history before making an offer. Here are a few things to consider before deciding whether to inherit a new responsibility.
WATER DRAINAGE POSSIBILITIES
Ponding water is one of the causes of early deterioration of an existing roof. It can accelerate aging, leading to the possibility of leaks and ruined insulation. If the building has a relatively flat roof, take note of whether roof drains or scuppers are properly maintained and are they providing adequate drainage. Also, find out if there has been any history of leaks or if the current owner has a preventative maintenance plan set up.
QUALITY OF THE SURFACE
An experienced roofer can detect signs that a roof is severely worn or is near the end of its life expectancy. For instance, if the top layers of a built-up roof have visible fibers poking out, the roof is nearing the end of its service life. An inspection may also reveal that there are voids developing near flashing or edge details, meaning the roof is susceptible to water intrusion or mold. If there are punctures in the waterproofing surface, it’s another sign that water can enter and the roof needs to be repaired or replaced.
It’s also important to note whether a roof has skylights. Older skylights can provide “ready made” leaks through cracked or broken domes. Also, older skylights often do not have any form of fall protection and can be more hazardous than an open hole (people assume that it is strong enough to support weight) when building occupants have to get on the roof. It’s always worthwhile to investigate existing skylights to ensure they won’t cause any unforeseen problems with your new building.
SOLAR PANEL POSSIBILITY
Hey, roofs don’t always have to cost you money! Sometimes they can make you money. Consider whether the roof has enough space and exposure to sunlight to make solar panels a worthwhile investment. As America moves forward with renewable energy initiatives, there are plenty of incentive programs to help install rooftop solar panel