What you should know about budgeting for a new roof

The flat roof on your commercial building has value and is one of your biggest capital investments, so it’s important that it’s installed properly, maintained, and inspected annually. These three factors will serve to protect your investment for as long as possible, but it’s inevitable that at some point, your roof will need to be replaced.

So, how will you know when you need a new roof and what can you do in advance to prepare and budget for replacement? Here are 10 tips from Mint Roofing’s Roof Inspector:

1. When you buy a building, get the roof inspected by a reputable company 

that only works on commercial, flat roofs. If you feel good about your experience with this company, build a relationship with them, so they get to know your roof and can maintain and monitor its condition, determine life expectancy, and estimated date of replacement.

2. Determine how long you plan to remain in your building. 

Match this with the life expectancy of your roof to determine if and when you need to begin budgeting.

The average life expectancy of a flat roof, if installed correctly:

Commercial rubber roofs – 15-20 years

Commercial hot tar roof – 20-35 years

TPO sun reflecting roof – 20 years

3. Consider your options and associated costs

Least expensive: Ballast rubber roof with river rock

Most expensive:  Hot BUR (built up roofing system)

A Hot BUR roof is most costly because it has the longest life expectancy, doesn’t puncture as easily, and reseals when hot. 

The TPO roof is a white, thermoplastic heat-welded roof and reflects the sun. It will take a bit longer to see the benefits of this roof in Minnesota due to extreme temperatures, so choose it for the long haul.

4. Incorporate climate into your calculations

Minnesota has snow, ice, and extreme temperatures that impact your roof, so you may want to consider a more durable roofing system due to problems like freezing, thawing, and roof expansion.

5. Estimate cost based on your situation

Factors include roof access, the kind of roof, size, complexity, varying sections, number of layers needing tear-off, and other variables.

6. Consider new insulation codes

The new building codes now call for an R30 value last year, meaning more insulation is required when re-roofing.

7. Know your square footage to calculate the cost of a replacement

The rule of thumb for budgeting: $14 per square foot.

8. Consider other contributing factors

Penetration and leaking from heating and cooling systems, sky lights, plumbing stacks and other equipment on your roof that is exposed to the sun will cause your roof to deteriorate faster, so keep an eye on and maintain them.

The best thing you can do for your roof is to make sure the flow of water is not inhibited by keeping drains and scuppers clear.

9. Avoid emergency repairs with an annual inspection

This will help you avoid emergency repairs because inspection means detection. Emergency repairs will eat up your budget because they are most costly given there is usually damage hiding under the surface, causing unforeseen expenses. The bottom line is that your best return on investment is keeping your roof from depreciating with routine maintenance.

10. Get on a maintenance plan

Regular maintenance will extend the life of your roof by up to 10 years and save you money on emergency repairs. Often repairing is 2.5 x’s more expensive than preventing. Mint Roofing offers free inspections to maintenance plan clients.

Think of it this way. If you don’t go to the dentist for 15 years, you’re going to pay more when you finally get in the chair. However, if you get your teeth cleaned and checked every six months and conduct routine maintenance, chances are you will avoid costly repairs, like root canals!

Take the initiative to build a relationship with a vetted commercial roofing company, know your roof, the installation date and the quality of the installation job. Based on this information, begin planning/budgeting several years prior to the end of life expectancy of your roof.