The Importance of Proactive Roof Maintenance

Banner - Roof - Metal Roof - AfterOne of the most important factors in reducing the life cycle cost of any commercial roof is maintaining a proactive roof maintenance schedule.

As any building owner or facility manager is keenly aware, problems with the roof are often almost unnoticeable until the cost of repair has spiked from leaks or rust that have spread to other parts of the structure.  Moreover, the recent boom in construction activity in both commercial and residential sectors has lead to material price inflation that will outpace the general rate of inflation, according to Reed Construction Data’s January report.  Soaring energy costs, coupled with these factors, makes a proactive roof maintenance program more critical than ever, but where do you begin?

In making the case against reactive rather than proactive roof maintenance, a simple price comparison helps to establish firm financial incentives to put together a strategy as soon as possible.  According to the January 2009 edition of Roofing Contractor, building owners and maintenance managers who react to roofing problems (leaks, rust, etc) as they occur spend an average of $0.25 per square foot annually, compared with only $0.14 per square foot spent annually by those with a proactive roof maintenance plan.  The same study found that proactive roof maintenance could almost double the life cycle length of a roof.  That means decreased life cycle cost and overall reduction of expenses.

Generally speaking, it is unwise to handle commercial roof maintenance in-house. Instead, shop around for companies that specialize in proactive roof maintenance in your area, but you shouldn’t always choose the company with the lowest bid.  Recent technological developments (powerful analytical tools such as infrared scanning and membrane testing) have given companies that utilize them the ability to pinpoint potential leaks or breakdown with far greater accuracy than simple visual inspection.  However, these services come at a premium, but these techniques will help extend the life of your commercial roof and lower life cycle cost.

Generally speaking, it is unwise to handle commercial roof maintenance in-house.

Now, there is always the chance that your roof will be too far gone for repair, and a commercial roofer provider will need to analyze your roof to see if re-roofing or repair is the better option.  Weathering and degeneration will take their toll over any commercial roof’s life cycle, but it’s your roofing provider’s job to determine how much more, if any, that life-cycle can be extended.  However, this is also a point at which building owners and facility managers should be leery.  Choosing a roof provider that specializes only in replacement rather than restoration, replacement and repair equally increases the chance that you will get a biased opinion and expend resources on a roof that could have been restored or repaired.

When choosing a provider to carry out your proactive roof maintenance plan, experience is paramount.  Surprisingly, weathering is not the leading cause of roof damage; that distinction belongs to human error.  Roughly 40 percent of all roof damage is caused by damage from poorly trained maintenance crews or improper initial installation of the roof system.  That means that you should choose a provider that trains technicians well and has reputation of consistently excellent service.  That also means choosing a company that has been around for long enough to establish a reputation and a record.  According to the US Census, nearly 40 percent of roofing companies were started within 3 years of 2005 by that year’s census, and 41 percent of roofing companies had gone out of business within that same three-year period.  The industry is always in flux, and there are fly-by-night companies that have little industry experience.

One option when choosing a roof maintenance provider is to choose a company that manufactures and installs their own products.  There are several advantages to this approach:

  1. The manufacturer will have far greater knowledge of their product.
  2. They will always have the right materials at hand.
  3. The manufacturer will be aware of any product failure early on, because they are on-site.
  4. Labor and materials are warrantied under the same company, which means no blame-games between two different policies or litigation.
  5. Manufacturers can tailor application specs to your specific needs, allowing far fewer chances for human error.

This should give you a good place to start.  Follow NovaTuff Coatings for up-to-date information on emerging roofing techniques and honest advice on getting the most out of your roof’s life-cycle.  If you have any questions, feel free to sound off in the comments section or contact us.

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