Is Your Roof Ready for the Rainy Season?

June 06, 2011

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Roof maintenance planning can help you weather the worst
By Gregg Wallick, President & CEO of Best Roofing

One to the things that make Florida so appealing is its weather.  The warmth and sunshine are great inducements to anyone purchasing real estate in our lovely state.  But there is another aspect of weather we must consider when developing or guarding our real estate investments.  That is:  the inevitable storms and hurricanes which batter us fairly regularly.

While every element of storm preparation is important, the roof system is probably the most critical and most often overlooked.  Consider that despite rain, hail, ultraviolet rays, foot traffic, various mechanical servicing, and building expansion and contraction; your roof system must continue to keep water from entering the building.

During a storm the roof is a transfer point of wind energy and is part of your first line of defense against immediate and future damage.  How your roof is built is as important as what it’s made of.  Your roof system should incorporate the following considerations:  access, deck, slope, weight, traffic, local weather condition, wind zone, codes, insurance and budget constraints.  Proper maintenance, and sometimes retrofitting of braces or hurricane straps, can help ensure that damage will be minimal when tough weather hits.

Every homeowners association and condo board should designate someone responsible for the roof of their building.  The roof should be treated as a depreciating asset to ensure the benefit of its entire service life.

Here are some things you can do to help you prepare your roof before the rainy/storm season in South Florida:

1.       Create a historical file:  Every association /condo board should have the following items together:

a.       Roof specifications

b.      Material manufacturer specification and product data information on the different components of the roof

c.       Roof warranties from the manufacturer of the material and/or the roofing contractor

d.      Contact information of your roofing contractor

2.       Conduct periodic inspections.  Your roof should be inspected at least twice a year by a qualified architect, engineer, roof consultant or roofing contractor who has a good understanding of the basic components of the roof system.  Spring and Fall are good times to do this because they are prior to and just after the severe Florida rainy and hurricane seasons.  Additional inspections should be ordered after severe hail and wind storms or after any installation of new mechanical equipment.  If you haven’t already assessed your property’s vulnerability to wind loading, now is the time to do it.

3.       Utilize Preventive Maintenance.  This is the action taken as a result of the inspection process. It is very important that you select a contractor who specializes in this area.  Preventative maintenance is a special part of the roofing trade, very different from conventional roofing contracting. Hiring a roof technician properly trained in all roof systems, who has served an apprenticeship of diagnosing the proper corrective procedures, is as important as taking your car to the mechanic that specializes in a specific make and model.

Considering that your roof protects a significant portion of your real estate and personal assets, a few dollars in preventative maintenance are a worthy investment.  If it’s been a while since your last roof inspection, you should anticipate a significant charge to bring your roof up to a manageable level.  Once you’ve established a routine inspection/maintenance pattern you can expect costs to range between $0.04 to $0.15 per square foot, per inspection.  Considering the cost to reroof a building can run from $5.00 to $20.00 per square foot, extending the service life of your current roof through proper maintenance is worthwhile.  When the restoration work is completed, don’t forget to add the new information to your historical file.  List what was repaired, how it was repaired, how much it cost and who did the work.

The best emergency strategy you can have is an established relationship with a qualified roofer.  Don’t risk making the repairs yourself; it is dangerous for untrained individuals to climb up on a roof and attempts to make repairs without professional guidance can sometimes result in more costly damage.  The National Roofing Contractors Association provides a wide range of information and services to help homeowners and building owners make informed decisions about replacing and maintaining their roof systems, including how to hire a professional roofer.