Commercial property managers and owners are constantly under pressure to reduce costs and increase occupancy and tenant satisfaction. Savvy facility and property managers have long ago realized that – controlling unplanned maintenance costs – is the most effective method of reducing both costs and tenant frustration. This strategy is especially lucrative when multiplied by every property in a portfolio.
One of the most expensive and vulnerable assets of a commercial building is its roof. In an office building, leaks from a damaged roof are not only a nuisance but destructive to everything under the roof including tenants’ property and equipment. The “disruptions” can be even more detrimental when they happen in hotels, restaurants, schools, and hospitals.
How Much Can Be Saved?
While it may be tempting to reduce the frequency of roof inspections for cost-saving purposes, a study shows that this can ultimately be very expensive. According to this commercial property management journal, BUILDINGS, “Owners and facility managers who react to problems as they occur, pay an average of 25¢ per square foot annually for maintenance. While owners and managers who inspect and repair routinely (proactively) – before problems happen – spend an average of only 14¢ per square foot annually.
“Plus, proactively maintained roofs last an average of 21 years compared to an average lifespan of 13 years for reactive maintenance. The longer you can extend your roof’s life before replacement, the more your overall savings increase and your life-cycle costs decrease.”
Proactive vs. Reactive Roof Maintenance
Applying a proactive strategy versus a reactive one for roof maintenance takes commitment. It is easy to “forget” that component of the building that is out of sight and deal with the occasional leak. Right?
Will Riley, a roofing professional with DK Haney Roofing, explains how the proactive approach to roof repair saves money.
“The problems are much smaller when they are caught earlier,” Riley said. “With regular inspections and maintenance, the property manager is addressing the issues – leaks or tears – before they have time to spread and become larger issues.
“For example, a proactive approach to roof maintenance will discover standing water on a flat roof – most likely resulting from a drainage clog – before this moisture can wear away a part of the roof membrane. Fixing a drainage problem is much less expensive than replacing a membrane.
“Plus, with a proactive approach, roof repairs caused by damage from other building trades can be mitigated. For example, if an HVAC technician inadvertently leaves several screws from the AC unit on the roof and then steps on these screws when he is cleaning up, holes in the roof can occur. Professional roof inspectors are looking for things like this.
“Finally, one of the biggest challenges for commercial roofs is the deterioration of the caulking. When this happens, the roof membrane can also be damaged. Caulking is relatively inexpensive to replace, whereas a new membrane is not.”
How Often Should a Commercial Roof Be Inspected?
According to Riley, the age of the building helps determine the frequency of inspections in a proactive maintenance program.
“On a new building, one that is less than five years old, we recommend an inspection occur once each year. Older buildings require more frequent inspection because of the caulking and possible re-flashing issues. With these older structures, we suggest at least two maintenance inspections each year and more if the roof was subjected to possible storm damage.
“Some roofing companies such as ours, formulate charges for inspection to encourage property managers to take the proactive approach to roof maintenance. For example, we don’t charge for the first inspection as a way to show our commitment to the preservation of the roof and it allows us an opportunity to level-set on its condition. For subsequent inspections, we tailor a ‘not to exceed’ pricing structure, which meets the objectives of the building owners.”
What This Means for Multiple Property Owners
As the building management journal article above notes, proactive roof maintenance can add 5 to 8 years to the life of a commercial roof. This is a substantial saving to owners of multiple buildings.
“Using a proactive maintenance strategy over as few as three buildings can result in enough cost-savings to pay for an entirely new roof,” said Riley. “Customers can save a great deal of money by aggregating the costs for materials and labor in one visit, rather than several. When a crew member fixes the problem that needs immediate repair, they can make a thorough inspection of the roof and fix any issues, while they are there.”
Proactive roofing maintenance helps a property manager discover and correct small issues BEFORE they become large and expensive. For more information on a no-obligation consultation, click here.