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July 28, 2014

Decisions, Decisions: Repair Or Replace That Old Roof?

Is replacing your commercial roof a better option than continuing to maintain it when the roof’s watertight integrity fails? After all, the roof’s primary function is to keep the weather out; at some point leaks will become intolerable, and the time for replacement will come.

bucketsRoof leaks can significantly affect the bottom line, potentially to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, with respect to…

  • Interior damage: replacement of ceiling tiles, carpet, gymnasium floors, computers, tools, and other equipment – pricey;
  • Production downtime: what’s the cost in terms of lost productivity when it’s necessary to shut down a line for a day – or more?
  • Lost business: roof leaks at hotels and motels can make rooms unavailable for guests. The revenue impact on a restaurant (or any retail operation, for that matter) that needs to close a section because of leaks can be serious.

Continuing to repair rather than replace the old roof can add costs to a new installation once the “replace it” decision is made. Over time, ineffective and inconsistent patching and other maintenance can allow water to penetrate the membrane and cause permanent damage to roof system components, including insulation and the roof deck itself. Here are some potential per-square-foot additional-cost considerations:

  • Tear off –$1-2;
  • Roof deck replacement –$2.50-6.00;
  • Asbestos removal (possible for some older facilities) – up to 10% or more.

Building owners/managers can and should establish a projected average service life of roofs, then plan a maintenance and replacement schedule around that. Several factors will influence a roof’s service life: design quality, installation integrity, products, maintenance, roof use/traffic, and weather.

Here’s an example: If you manage a million square feet of roofing that has a projected life expectancy of 20 years, you might consider budgeting to replace 1/20 or 5% of those square feet (50,000) per year. If the average installation cost is $5 per square foot, plan to budget $250,000 each year.

Once you’ve made that determination, you can better assess the replace-repair question by comparing that replacement budget with your actual maintenance and repair costs. If “repair” exceeds “replace,” it might be time for a new roof, or roofs.

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Royalty Roofing has installed more than 20 million square feet of new commercial roofing material in our history, and we also have rooftop management and maintenance programs. Give us a call to discuss the best options for your facility.


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