Is your HOA spending between $20,000 and $50,000 a year in emergency roof repairs, and an additional $5,000 to $15,000 for interior repairs? Is your reroofing not scheduled for another decade, or is your reserve funding completely dried up? Do the roofing experts tell you that you need a new roof now?
Many community associations find themselves in this exact spot: their reserve funds depleted by emergency costs with insufficient funding for scheduled reroofing. It doesnt help matters that roofing companies tend to push reroofing because that is always where the biggest profits lie. The good news is you may have another alternative. The solution may be comprehensive roof maintenance, coupled with specific areas of invasive reconstruction.
Why is there not a lot of accurate information regarding comprehensive roof maintenance? In the first place, there is no school or licensing for roof maintenance. When vendors go to the state to get their roofing license, they must pass a test that insures they have the knowledge and skill to install a new system. However, they are not tested or taught to repair an existing system. In addition, most contracts are sold by salesmen, whose commissions are based on the size of the project. The ultimate prize for a roofing company salesman is to secure a large reroofing contract.
I recently was asked to inspect a 200-unit complex to provide a proposal for reroofing. Although the tile roofs were only 15-years old, a previous roofer had told the HOA and community manager that the roofs were worn and in need of replacement. When my operations manager and I inspected the roofing system, we expected to see worn out roofing underlayment under the tile and rusted out flashings. This was not the case. In fact, out of approximately 100 associations we had inspected over the prior three months, this roof had more integrity than 90% of the other projects. When we lifted random tiles to inspect the asphalt-saturated felt underlayment, we discovered that the weather-protective membrane was in excellent condition. The tiles were not broken and the metal flashings were not rusted through. In the final analysis this association only needed light maintenance.
How does this happen? Is it greed and dishonesty on the part of the roofer? Perhaps, but I believe it stems from an overall lack of understanding of the components of a roof and poor education in the industry, coupled with naïveté on the part of the HOA.
If your roofs are failing, what are your options?
Chances are you will be spending money on your roofs and exterior shell weatherproofing this year in at least one of three ways:
1. Yearly Maintenance
Yearly roof maintenance includes reinforcing typically leak prone areas, in a mostly non-invasive manner, including vent flashings, coping metal, roofing penetrations and termination points.
Proper reinforcement of the failing areas can minimize moisture intrusion in the following year.
2. Leak Repair
Most associations will have their management company contact a vendor to repair roof leaks during the winter storms.
One out of twenty of you will be involved in complete or partial reroofing during the year. However, it is possible that some of you may have a better financial option, which can eliminate your moisture intrusion problems.
Your solution may incorporate all three of the previous examples of roofing expenditures: maintenance, repair and select-area reroofing. Consider the following: The Ninety-Ten Rule. In all roofing situations ninety percent of the roof leaks occur from ten percent of the area. The area that fails is nearly always at flashing penetrations and roof edge transition areas. In simple words, leak-prone areas are wherever a flashing pipe, chimney or vent penetrates your roof and wherever two slopes of roofing intersect at a valley or terminate at an edge. In many cases these areas are worn to such a degree that reparability seems unlikely; however, often a comprehensive maintenance project with select-area reconstruction may be a cost-effective alternative.