Commercial roof inspections shouldn't be a mystery. We're going to take you through the most common questions about commercial roof inspections we offer throughout Virginia, Maryland, and DC, and all of the details, costs, and preparation they require.
One of a building owner’s worst nightmares is finding out that your building requires an emergency roof replacement and you don’t have the funding to support the project. Maybe the single-best action you can proactively take is a planned approach to your commercial roof maintenance by scheduling bi-annual roof inspections with a certified commercial roofing contractor, along with conducting your own routine basic maintenance. You don’t want to be “that guy” caught off guard with the burden of an unplanned major building expense.
Would you buy a brand new car and expect it to run 100,000 miles without a bit of routine maintenance? Maybe you could get away with that, but to really get the most out of a new or used vehicle, routine maintenance is required. Standard maintenance on any car includes tire rotations, oil changes, fluid refills, tire replacements, brake replacements, regular checkups, and a lot of gas in between. Commercial roofs are much the same, and to get your roof to 100,000+ miles, they need to be inspected, maintained, and cared for.
What sort of preliminary work is conducted before a contractor arrives on-site?
Before one of our commercial roofing contractors ever arrives on-site, they’ll conduct extensive pre-inspection homework to learn everything they can about your commercial roof’s history and composition.
They’ll take a hard look at historical satellite imagery to get an understanding of its history, identify potential ponding water, see how the roof has aged, and determine whether it’s undergone any major replacements or changes. They’ll also bring along the satellite imagery to the inspection itself so the engineer can mark any specific areas of concern. The more we know stepping foot on your roof, the better.
To get as much information as possible, they will also cross reference your building addresses with all major roof system manufacturers. This will help determine your warranty’s standing and scope of coverage and better inform you of any roof manufacturer recommendations to keep your warranty in good standing, in addition to any recommendations we may provide in your roof inspection report.
If you have a work order history with Simpson, then rest assured we can provide you with sound recommendations based on the most up-to-date information of your commercial roof and building envelope history. If that’s not available or you’re a first-time customer, our estimator will speak to the building engineer directly to learn as much as possible about the history of your building.
How much does a roof inspection cost?
No two commercial roofs (or roof inspections) are the same so the scope of an inspection can be broad depending on the square footage, access, number of roofs, roofing system type, and customer needs.
Traditionally our basic commercial roof inspections are free of charge or inclusive in other roofing services. These involve a walkthrough with one of our roofing experts who will create an inspection and photo report that compile general takeaways, recommendations, and costs to complete.
A more comprehensive walkthrough would include a service crew who conducts on-site repairs, quick fixes, and basic maintenance, such as cleaning leaf debris, trash, minor repairs, and small punctures. It’s the same level of detailed inspection as any walkthrough but comes with a squad of commercial roofing professionals ready to button up your roof on-site.
If you’re considering a roof replacement and need a core sample taken or have an irregular roof composition that will incur additional on-site repairs, those elements may add to the scope and cost of your inspection. But we’ll have all of these details defined before anyone arrives on-site.
No matter what the scope, all of our inspections are incredibly detailed and carefully documented, and will each include a detailed photo report.
What will the commercial roofing contractor inspect?
Once they’ve arrived on-site, discussed any questions or concerns with the building engineer, and established safe access to the roof, our estimator will inspect every major component of your commercial roofing system. This includes the field of roof, flashing details, penetrations, roof drains, metal flashing components (ie. coping cap), and other critical components that are related to the integrity of the roof, such as brick/masonry and HVAC units. (See a detailed list of all our commercial roofing repair and maintenance services here)
The seams, flashing, roof penetrations, and roof drains are considered the most vulnerable areas of a commercial roof, so those will be given extra attention.
Part of our preliminary discussions with the engineer is determining whether there have been any recent leaks so we can prioritize our focus and attention to those specific areas. If there are any reported leaks or signs of water damage on the inside of the building, we’ll do an interior walkthrough as well.
Our estimators are able to identify areas of concern on the building envelope as well, though this obviously depends on the size of the building. A 10-story building can’t include a thorough building envelope inspection without a swing stage, but assuming your building is 1-2 stories, they’ll inspect the building facade from the ground level to identify any obvious issues, like control joints with deteriorated sealant.
What sorts of issues will you be looking for on the commercial roof itself? Where exactly will you look for them?
There are two main categories of maintenance our roofing experts will be looking for during their inspection: preventative and corrective. (Learn more about our preventative maintenance services here)
Preventative items are usually small issues that could become big issues if neglected. This includes replacing sealant at pourable sealer pockets, pipe penetrations, and exposed termination bar and will also encompass basic preventative measures like cleaning roof drains, thru wall scuppers, and gutters to ensure the commercial roof has free and clear drainage points.
Corrective items are issues that have or will cause immediate problems for the building owner, such as roof leaks caused by open seams, punctures in the roofing membrane, or past repairs or roofing modifications that were improperly done. Rain or other recent weather events will often dictate the most immediate problems and inform the commercial roof contractor what to look for.
Corrective issues are often the reason inspections are scheduled in the first place, but if you’re following all of your preventative maintenance protocols, those can usually be altogether avoided.
What does a commercial roof inspection report include?
Our thoroughly detailed roof inspection report will include all of the general information about your commercial roof including the type of roofing system, estimated age, square footage, and overall roof grade.
Photos are also a crucial element of these detailed reports that will display all of the roof’s general conditions and identify all areas or issues of concern, along with recommendations for how to remedy the issues and costs to complete.
Why do I need a commercial roofing contractor to perform an inspection? Can’t I inspect it myself?
You absolutely should inspect your roof and we encourage you to, so long as you can perform an inspection safely!
Making a regular practice of conducting your own roof walkthrough can identify some of the most common and easily avoidable commercial roof issues. So many roof issues are common-sense maintenance issues like small holes in your roof, open seams, or gaps in the sealant that signal leak risks.
Conducting your own inspections to clear roof drains, scuppers, and gutters of debris and identifying membrane punctures and open seams can save you loads of time, money, and headaches down the road.
You can cover your own basic maintenance, but a majority of commercial roofing knowledge isn’t intuitive and takes years of experience to know precisely what to look for. For a comprehensive report on the health of your roof, trust the professionals.
Once a commercial roof inspection report has been submitted and the final scope of repairs agreed to by all parties we can move to next steps in the process, beginning with scheduling. Work days are first and foremost dictated by customer preference, occupant hours, and weather forecast, but we’ll also factor in the optimal days and times to ensure our own crews’ safety, efficiency, and performance.
The importance of regular commercial roof maintenance can’t be overstated. Bi-annual inspections can extend the service life of your roof by years, even decades! Pretend it’s a vehicle and put in the relatively low cost and minimal time in the short term to prolong your commercial roof for years to come.
And, save yourself a lot of time and money in the process.
Schedule a FREE commercial roof inspection with Simpson Unlimited today and learn why we’ve been Maryland, Virginia, and DC’s top commercial roofing contractor for 30 years!