6 Questions To Ask When Getting a Commercial Roof Inspection

There’s a lot to think about when you’re considering buying or selling a building and the condition of the roofing system is definitely one of them! The roof is a business asset, along with the rest of the building. So you need to have a roof inspection by a knowledgeable, reputable expert who knows exactly what to look for. The roof inspection report you receive should include the answers to these six questions — and your roof inspection expert should be willing to show up at meetings or negotiations between to the two parties to present additional findings, facts and opinions, if needed.

1. Is the roof drainage system adequate for anticipated conditions?

Over the past 30 years, Atlanta’s annual average rainfall has been 49.71 inches, which is 27% higher than the nationwide average. Atlanta’s record rainfall for a single day is 6.68 inches — that’s a lot of rain! Ideally, this is the standard your inspector should use to determine how well the roof’s drainage system would perform.

In a climate like Atlanta’s, it’s a good idea for buildings to have an alternate roof drainage system in case the primary system gets overwhelmed. In fact, current building codes require it, however, many older buildings do not. A building that has a single roof drainage system is a bit like not having a backup power generator. If the system malfunctions, you’ll have to deal with the adverse results until you can get it fixed.

2. What does the roof’s condition reveal about how it has been maintained?

A building’s roof system needs proper, regular maintenance to stay in good operating condition. Signs of improper or irregular maintenance vary by type of roofing system, but an experienced roof inspector will be able to tell if a roof has been cared for or not. Well-cared for roofing systems can last years longer than ones that haven’t been maintained. A maintained roof also gives some insight into what you might find in the rest of the building … whether you’re the buyer or the seller! If poor maintenance has progressed to the point of requiring re-roofing or extensive repairs, it may justify a lower selling price.

3. Has the roof been repaired? If so, when and why was repair needed?

A repaired roof isn’t always a bad one. It could show that the building owner has been vigilant about keeping the roof in good condition. However, when the same type of repair has been performed repeatedly, it could indicate that roofing system was installed improperly. In addition, frequent repairs could mean that the building has structural problems, has “settled” into a different position or receives too much foot traffic on the roof.

4. What is the condition of the plane that forms the roof surface?

The trajectory of a roof plane — also known as the “field” — impacts how well water drains from the roof surface. Poorly maintained flat roofs are predisposed to changes in the plane that create pools of standing water that could cause leaks while leaks in pitched roofs often result from damaged seals between sections that form the plane. Simple leaks from a damaged plane cause major interior water damage. It happens all the time.

5. What is the condition of flashing on the roof?

Flashing is a thin piece of impervious material installed at roof joints — where the roof transitions from a horizontal position to a vertical one — to prevent water from leaking under the roof surface. Flashing is a very important part of a roof’s weather barrier system (WBS) and must be in excellent condition at all times. Replacing damaged or weather-worn flashing is relatively inexpensive but not replacing it can cause interior water damage that costs a lot to fix.

6. What is the condition of architectural sheet metal on the roof?

Roof-grade sheet metal is a durable, cost-effective solution for covering the top of a building and creating its gutter and coping, which is sheet metal that covers wall exteriors. However, while the metal panels are highly durable, spaces around screws that keep it in place can develop from the expansion and contraction of the metal due to temperature change. Assessing the condition of sheet metal should always include examining its points of attachment.

A great roofing system increases the value of your building asset

Whether you’re the owner or the buyer, the condition and history of the roof factors into the overall value of the building asset and its long-term maintenance costs. When a roof inspection raises red flags, problems can be fixed before or after the sale — it’s up to the parties to negotiate. But you definitely want to know what you’re talking about. A seasoned commercial roofing expert can not only answer the questions above, but give you insight into different repair (or replacement) options based on your goals for the property.

If you need a commercial roof inspection, Sentry Roof Services is here to help. There’s no need to hire an expensive roofing consultant. Sentry offers reporting and due diligence as one of our five business services, along with planning, analysis and budgeting. We can also help you respond to a roof inspection report you’ve received about a building you own.

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