The roof system is arguably a building's most important asset.  It is expected to maintain structural integrity under wind, snow and live loads; keep the building dry during varying weather conditions; help regulate the building's interior thermal environment and, in some cases, contribute to the overall building aesthetic.

Not unlike other systems, a building's roof system requires regular inspection, ongoing maintenance and, eventually, replacement.  When the time comes to make a decision to repair, recover or replace a building's roof system, there are a number of questions that an owner should ask.  Budget, changing building code requirements, products, installation procedures and site conditions necessitate the need for a coordinated and balanced approach that considers all of the project parameters.  

Unfortunately, many building owners spend more time considering changes in flooring, fixtures and paint colors than the best course of action relative to repair or replacement of their roof system.  Instead, they often rely on the advice of roofing contractors to tell them what they should, and should not, do with respect to their roof systems. Sometimes, the advice is good. Sometimes, it is not.  

Roof consultants assist building owners as they try to navigate the options available for the continued, long-term performance of their roof system through:

  • EVALUATION of the existing roof system condition/performance and recommendation of repair or replacement options available;
  • DESIGN of roof system repair or replacement including preparation of documents that specify site conditions, material/system selection, performance criteria and warranty requirements, etc… based on the owner’s design parameters;
  • BID services including distribution of documents that protect the building owner and allow an “apples to apples” evaluation of estimates from qualified bidders, approved by roof system manufacturers, to install the designed roof system;
  • CONSTRUCTION ADMINISTRATION (CA) services to provide on-site verification that the work is proceeding in accordance with the construction documents.

Ultimately, the owner’s decision to hire a roof consultant should be based on the roof consultant’s ability to obtain the lowest price for the best roof system that meets the owner’s performance, time and budget requirements.

Every building and project is unique.  The following is represents only a partial list of things that must be considered prior to that start of any roofing/re-roofing project. An owner should consult with a qualified professional to see how each of these items pertain to their specific project. 

The first, and most important question, is: what is the condition of the existing roof system assembly and does the roof need to be replaced, or can it be repaired? 


A.    Is the existing roof leaking? In most cases, an owner will not seek to evaluate the condition of the existing roof system unless there is a problem.

1.    Roof leak or other?
    a.    plumbing leak, condensation, exterior wall leak (coping/wall/flashing)

B.    Is the existing roof system under warranty?

C.    Once it is established that the roof is the source of a leak, the causes of/extent of damage must be assessed.

1.    Location, duration, intensity, relation to weather events, etc…
2.    Moisture survey required (gravometric/nuclear, infrared, core cuts)
3.    Has the roof system (above structural roof deck) been compromised?
4.    Has the structural roof deck been compromised?    

D.    Existing roof system assembly composition

1.    Roof Covering
a.    Material (type, age)
b.    attachment (ballasted/mechanically attached/fully-adhered)
2.    Coverboard/Insulation
a.    Material (type)
b.    attachment (ballasted/mechanically attached/fully-adhered)
3.    More than one roof system?
4.    Air/vapor barrier installed?
5.    Asbestos containing materials (built-up roof felts/flashings)
6.    Structural roof deck type 
     a.    Material (wood, metal, concrete, other…?)

E.    Drainage

1.    Adequate slope to drains?
2.    Internal or perimeter drainage? Adequate?
3.    Secondary drainage/Emergency Overflow provisions?

F.    Perimeter conditions

1.    Roof edges, wall caps and perimeter terminations (term bar, counter-flashing, etc…)

G.    Penetrations/flashings

1.    Quantity, type

The selection and design of the most appropriate roof system repair or replacement must take into account the owner’s goals for the project while conforming to the necessary building code performance and manufacturer’s warranty requirements for the project.


A.    Based on the condition of the existing roof system, a number of repair options may be available that extend the service life of the roof to allow adequate time to plan a more comprehensive roof replacement project.

1.    Improve drainage
2.    “strip-in” seams
3.    Repair/replace flashings at perimeters and terminations
4.    Coatings


A.    Initial MATERIAL/SYSTEM considerations

1.    Interior conditions (humidity, conditioned space, air/vapor barrier?)
2.    Building Code requirements (Class A, B or C req’d based on Construction Type)
3.    Warranty desired (10-year, 20-year, 30-year)
4.    Insurance requirements (Factory Mutual insured building?)
5.    LEED (Solar Reflectance Index (SRI), SS 7.2 credits)

B.    Structural roof deck

1.    Type/material of existing roof deck (concrete, metal, wood, tectum, etc…)
2.    Any replacement required of damaged/deteriorated roof deck?

C.    Insulation/Coverboard requirements. 

1.    Material (polyisocyanurate, extruded polystyrene, expanded polystyrene, etc…)
2.    Flat/tapered (min. 1/4” per ft.)
3.    Attachment (ballasted/mechanically attached/fully-adhered)

D.    Roof covering requirements

1.    Material (EPDM, TPO, PVC, etc… - color/thickness)
2.    Attachment (ballasted/mechanically attached/fully-adhered)

E.    Drainage

1.    Adequate slope to drains?
2.    Improvements to primary drainage necessary? (retro-fit drains)
3.    Secondary drainage/Emergency Overflow?

F.    Penetrations/flashings

1.    Quantity, type

G.    Perimeter Conditions

1.    Roof edges, wall caps and perimeter terminations (term bar, counter-flashing, etc…)


 Through the preparation and distribution of documents that eliminate project variables while clearly establishing system performance and installation parameters, the successful roof consultant will help the owner balance all of the design considerations while saving time and money that will more than offset the initial cost of hiring the consultant.

A.    Public or Private? In short, where is the funding for the project coming from?

B.    Bonding requirements

1.    Bid Bond
2.    Performance Bond
3.    Material/Labor payment Bond

C.    Warranty requirements

1.    Material warranty (generally useless)
2.    Material/Labor warranty (non-prorated, no dollar limit, etc…)
3.    Wind 
4.    Hail, puncture, etc…
5.    Contractor’s Guarantee

D.    Advertising requirements

1.    Document distribution
2.    Plan rooms, newspapers, locally, etc…
3.    Pre-qualifications/selection of bidders

E.    Bidding requirements

1.    Pre-Bid meeting (mandatory?)

F.    Contractor requirements

1.    Manufacturer approved applicator?
2.    Experience completing projects of similar size/scope?
3.    Davis-Bacon/SWAM, etc…


Every roof is different. A roof replacement project on a single-story, 10,000 sq. ft. on an elementary school in the suburbs is vastly different than a roof replacement on a 10,000 sq. ft., high-rise hotel in the middle of a congested downtown. Delivery and storage of materials, noise, parking, dumpster locations, hours of work and whether or not the building will be occupied during the progression of work are important factors that will impact cost and the time required to complete a project.
Beyond system selection, site conditions play a critical role in overall project costs.

A.    Time for completion

1.    Weather days

B.    Material delivery

1.    Delivery to the site (road widths, traffic constraints, underground utilities, etc…)
2.    Placement of materials on the roof (potential to overload roof?, trees, etc…

C.    Storage

1.    Secured storage areas (roof, ground, fencing, etc…)

D.    Debris removal

1.    Ballast removal (noise, owner keep ballast, underground utilities, etc…)
2.    Material removal (recycling/salvaging, landfill location/distance from site, etc…
3.    Dumpster location

E.    Access to buildings

1.    Elevators, stairs, ladders, etc…

F.    Time of work

1.    Occupied building?
2.    Evenings/overnight, weekends, holidays, etc…

G.    Other…

1.    Protection of building interiors (“temp” weather protection, 
2.    Worker conduct (dress, identification, smoking, restrooms, etc…)
3.    Safety (responsibility of the GC/roofing contractor)
    a.    Building occupants
    b.    workers


A.    Is there an opportunity to improve the long-term performance of the roof as part of a roof replacement project?

1.    Interior conditions – air/vapor barrier required?
2.    Improved roof access (assists with long-term maintenance/inspections)
3.    Fall protection
4.    Lightning protection