Whether you work as a facilities manager for a large real estate company, or are only concerned about a single warehouse, knowing how to approach the possible replacement of a commercial roof is quite valuable. As we consult with administrators who have this responsibility, we have found it helpful to suggest a four step process for making certain that the final job result meets their expectations.
These four critical steps are:
1. proper analysis, evaluation, and design
2. quality products
3. proper application and regular inspection
4. corrective and preventive maintenance
I want to talk about each of these individually, and will address the first two in this post, leaving the last two for a future post.
1. Proper analysis, evaluation, and design.
Being aware of the current status of a roof, and why there may be problems, is critical to all projects. Most real estate companies or facilities management firms do not have the luxury of a full time roofing professional on staff. We understand this, so at Terrell’s work with our commercial clients by:
- Accurately identifying roofing problems
- Providing budget estimates, including yearly maintenance costs
- Suggesting priorities based on the degree of severity of the problem
- Identifying restoration projects and replacement job requirements
- Working with a design team to develop technical specs as needed
When we inspect a roof we focus most of our attention on the flashings. We begin by looking for leaks at drains, curbs, vents, wall flashings, and edge metal. These locations are usually the culprit in 80% of roof leaks.
Good design should include a positive slope. Even a minimal slope like ¼:12 will potentially add years to the life of the roof. The goal is eliminate any place where “ponding” can occur, so any shedding of water off the roof and into drains or gutters is paramount. Also, note that ponding can nullify many manufacturers warranties.
While we offer input based on our more than 40 years of roofing experience, the ultimate design decisions are up to the architect and roof design specialist. They must take into consideration the individualized needs of the building type, and potential issues that will arise in the years after the install. For example, a hospital roof will have many more penetrations and high foot traffic, where a warehouse design may primarily be concerned just with controlling water.
2. Quality products
This is where we most often see shortcuts being taken. A school district for example, doesn’t have a large maintenance budget. The lowest cost material bid seems appealing, but the increased cost of maintaining the roof, and its potentially shorter life will often mitigate the savings.
In a warmer climate, like Oklahoma, the amount of insulation and the addition of a reflective barrier are extremely important. Without these not only will the owners see a shorter life on the roof, but increased costs to maintain the interior temperature of the building as well. While a single ply roof might seem to be economically advisable initially, over its lifetime that initial savings disappears.
In my next post I’ll address the two remaining critical steps in a successful commercial roof project.