When I’m Buying a Building, How Do I Know the Roof’s In Good Shape?

roof in good shape
roof in good shape

When considering purchasing a large building for commercial or industrial use, never forget to ask the question: Is the roof in good shape? The cost of repairing a roof or replacing one altogether is significant, so it’s always a good idea to inspect the roof and learn its history before making an offer. Here are a few things to consider before deciding whether to inherit a new responsibility.

Water Drainage Possibilities

Ponding water is one of the causes of early deterioration of an existing roof. It can accelerate aging, leading to the possibility of leaks and ruined insulation. If the building has a relatively flat roof, take note of whether roof drains or scuppers are properly maintained and are they providing adequate drainage. Also, find out if there has been any history of leaks or if the current owner has a preventative maintenance plan set up.

Quality of the Surface

An experienced roofer can detect signs that a roof is severely worn or is near the end of its life expectancy. For instance, if the top layers of a built-up roof have visible fibers poking out, the roof is nearing the end of its service life. An inspection may also reveal that there are voids developing near flashing or edge details, meaning the roof is susceptible to water intrusion or mold. If there are punctures in the waterproofing surface, it’s another sign that water can enter and the roof needs to be repaired or replaced.

Skylight Concerns

It’s also important to note whether a roof has skylights. Older skylights can provide “ready made” leaks through cracked or broken domes. Also, older skylights often do not have any form of fall protection and can be more hazardous than an open hole (people assume that it is strong enough to support weight) when building occupants have to get on the roof. It’s always worthwhile to investigate existing skylights to ensure they won’t cause any unforeseen problems with your new building.

Solar Panel Possibility

Hey, roofs don’t always have to cost you money! Sometimes they can make you money. Consider whether the roof has enough space and exposure to sunlight to make solar panels a worthwhile investment. As America moves forward with renewable energy initiatives, there are plenty of incentive programs to help install rooftop solar panel systems. Solar panels draw energy from the sun and use it to either power the building or create electricity to sell back to the grid.

Remember that the roof inspection is an important part of the inspection process that normally precedes any big building purchase. Often these inspections focus on what’s inside the building and what can be found around the walls. But to ignore what’s on top of the building could be a costly mistake.

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