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July 27, 2018

Your Commercial Roof Cost: Not Just the Initial Installation

Budgeting for a new commercial roof? The installation cost of materials and labor that your contractor charges will certainly be significant – probably the costliest “line item” you’ll incur over the life of your roof. But keep in mind that there are many factors that can add to or reduce your out-of-pocket expenses over that 15-20-year life span.


There are a multitude of different commercial roofing systems out there, and each has its own life-cycle cost considerations, so carefully compare your options to make the right roofing choice for your situation. Some systems offer high reflectivity and potential energy savings. Some don’t require much ongoing maintenance but may have a higher initial installation cost. Others might cost less to install but require an expensive tear-off of the existing roof because of weight or building codes; others may need more frequent maintenance once installed.

Here’s a brief list of considerations for what your new roof may cost you over the long haul:

Installation: Not just the product and labor costs, but possibly old-roof removal costs as well. Some lighter-weight roof systems can be installed directly over the old one without a costly tear-off. There might also be landfill disposal costs; however, some systems are recyclable, and some manufacturers have set up recycling programs – in which case you could return the old system and avoid the cost of disposal.

Building disruption costs: Can you continue to operate normally during the roof installation? Will you need to suspend operations for a while (even a day or two)? Will you need to incur costs to move people or equipment around to accommodate work crews and their tools?

Long-term durability: commercial roofs should be inspected regularly and, naturally, there is a cost associated with that and any accompanying maintenance or repairs. Some systems might be better performers in certain situations than others. The sun can be brutal on roofs in the southwest. Tropical storms present wind challenges and flying debris. Own a restaurant – or several? Some roof membranes are better able to handle exhaust grease than others. The “wrong” roof might require more repairs (cost) and a quicker replacement (more cost). And if the roof does leak, there’s the potential for interior and/or equipment damage.

Energy savings: Reflective roofs can reduce building energy consumption and the associated costs. They can also prolong the life of rooftop HVAC units that don’t have to work as hard to cool ambient air. Another factor: Some states, municipalities and/or utilities may offer financial incentives when an energy-efficient roof is installed.

Warranty: Are there exclusions? An exclusion for ponding water is common. Other warranties may require an additional cost to include coverage for winds above a certain speed or exposure to chemicals. If your roof warranty doesn’t cover these situations, it potentially means more out-of-pocket cost for you.

Ultimately, the single most important factor in how long your roof will last and how much it may cost you in the long run is the quality of the installation. Make sure you choose your roofing contractor carefully!


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