Construction

Maintaining Your Most Important Asset: Your Roof

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Learn all about how you can maintain and get the most of your roof, your most important and most valuable aspect of property. More often than not this aspect of a property is not valued enough which is why today we devote some special attention to it. If you want to learn how to value this important asset to your real estate, keep it and turn it into cash, this is the article you want to read. After reading this, not only that you will know all there is to know about roofs, but you just might start planning to get on planning new roof projects.

“The roof is my building’s most important asset,” a property manager stated when approached about initiating a preventive maintenance program for his roof. Some may disagree, but for those of you who have experienced a catastrophic roofing failure during inclement weather, or even a relatively minor roof leak in the wrong place at the wrong time, the roof suddenly becomes your most important building component.

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Your building’s roof system not only keeps your tenants dry but can also increase or decrease the building’s overall energy efficiency, prevent or promote the growth of mold and other organisms, enhance or degrade the structural capacity of your building and beautify or deteriorate the entire building exterior.

Most building owners and managers recognize the importance of maintaining their HVAC systems, elevators, and other building control systems but give little thought to maintaining their roof system until problems occur. This is called reactive maintenance. The owner waits until the roof leaks, then calls someone to fix the leak and maybe repair whatever other items the roofing technician may find on his visit. Then the roof system is left until the next problem occurs.

Maintaining your roof

Like most other building components, the best type of maintenance is preventive and includes regular inspections and necessary roof repairs on an annual or biannual basis.

“A few leaks here and there. We get them fixed promptly. What’s the big deal?”

Consequences of Reactive Roof Maintenance

Roof leaks are an inconvenience to the tenant and can damage property or equipment in the building interior. While this is the most immediate concern, there are long-lasting negative effects that can surface for years to come. Several components of the roof membrane and the building interior will need to be saturated before the water appears in the space below. This means wet insulation, rotted or rusted roof decking and moldy Sheetrock are all real possibilities.

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Continued moisture contact with steel, wood, gypsum or tectum roof decks can cause deterioration which can weaken the deck resulting in safety concerns and possible structural failure. Wet insulation eliminates any R-value the insulation may have had, promotes mold growth on organic surfaces, increases the load on the roof structure, rusts roofing fasteners and components and wreaks havoc on the roof system in general as the water changes from liquid to gas to solid as the building experiences the seasons. Above deck, insulation will also compress when wet causing fastener heads to tear through the roof membrane resulting in further leaks.

Many of the results of poor roof maintenance are seen on the building exterior itself. Damage to brick, stucco, EIFS, wood, concrete and just about any other exterior building component can occur from improper roofing maintenance. Extensive repairs, early roof replacement, lost tenants, damaged building components, decreased energy deficiency, voided warranties and concessions given at the sale of the building are just a few ways to lose money through inadequate roof maintenance.

Implementing a Preventive Roof Maintenance Program

Preventive maintenance begins with the inspection. Whether you have someone perform the inspections internally or you hire a roofing professional to inspect your roofs, there are three main components that should be included in every preventive maintenance roof inspection.

Inspect All Components: Make sure to thoroughly inspect all components of your roof system once or twice a year (depending on age, use and condition of roof) to include perimeter edge, wall flashings, terminations (metal coping, counterflashing, termination bar, etc.), equipment curb flashings, pipe and stack flashings, surfacing/coating condition, seams, fasteners, caulkings, etc. It helps to have a checklist such as those designed by the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) or other roofing professional. The NRCA also produces manuals and detailed instructions that can be purchased on their website at www.nrca.net.

House Roof

Document All Deficiencies: Use the aforementioned checklist or your recording system to document all deficiencies that you see. Whenever possible, mark and number deficiencies with spray paint or grease pen with corresponding numbers and comments on your checklist. Some will argue that photos are not necessary, but with a camera on every phone, it seems almost ridiculous not to utilize this tool as a backup to marking the roof surface.

Perform the Repairs: This may seem like a foregone conclusion to the maintenance program, but some building managers have preventive maintenance inspections every year but never perform the repairs. Instead, the same deficiencies are documented over and over until the water enters the building. Make sure you are utilizing a roofing professional that is versed in repairing all types of commercial roof systems and is using the proper materials and methods to perform the maintenance repairs.

“That’s all fine and dandy, but my budget is already tight with no room for extra maintenance.”

 

If the money isn’t spent on preventive maintenance this year, you can expect to be spending exponentially more in the years to come just reacting to the problems as they arise. Preventive maintenance programs cost between 3 and 5 cents per square foot or less for most commercial buildings. This is a small price to pay to avoid all the unnecessary costs associated with not maintaining your roof.

Become diligent about your roof maintenance and avoid the “out of sight, out of mind” mentality. Not only will your roof last much longer and cost you less money over the life cycle of the roof, but it will also result in happier, more satisfied tenants. Only by adding regular preventive roof maintenance to your building systems maintenance plan can you truly maximize your building’s potential for profit and tenant satisfaction.