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Pay Attention to Long-Term Costs When Deciding Whether to Repair or Recover the Roof
Risk-taking is not a best practice in facility management, but that’s exactly what some facility executives do when they gamble with their roof.
Leaks — and repairs — become more frequent. Will it continue on that path to become a major problem where replacement is inevitable, or will the facility executive get lucky with the latest repair?
The odds of needing fewer repairs over time are just about the same as hitting a single number at the roulette wheel: extremely low. Leaks will get worse and the roof will deteriorate. There comes a point — before a roof completely breaks down — where facility executives have a choice: either recover the roof, or replace it now before you have no choice in the matter.
In many instances, especially in these tough economic times, recovering might seem like the best option simply because it’s less expensive. That’s because there are more materials and labor involved in a replacement.
“A replacement involves taking the roof system off all the way down to the deck, then rebuilding it with new materials,” says John Willers, president, Rooftop Systems Engineers. “Recovering is putting a new membrane over the existing roof.”
In some cases, recovering might make sense. If there are plans in the works to sell the building in the near future, organizations won’t want to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a replacement that won’t bring any benefit. But on facilities that will be owner-occupied for the foreseeable future, such as government buildings or universities, a total roof replacement may actually cost less in the long-term when all benefits are considered.
Facility executives should look beyond the first cost when deciding between a recover or replace. Many benefits cannot be summarized in dollars and cents.
“The best way to evaluate the options is to think about the trade offs,” says Pat Downey, president, Merik Inc. “There’s not a black and white answer where one option is right and everything else is wrong.” There are pros and cons to both options. In order to find out which option is a better fit, facility executives need to examine and prioritize the pros and cons of each option carefully.