5 Strategies for Managing an Aging Roof Portfolio

Hows your roof portfolio look? Evaluate staff, funding, and physical conditions to determine an action plan.

Ron Harriman


3) Assess Assets and Risks
Completing an assessment of existing roof assets is critical to developing an effective roof management strategy. The assessment should reveal four fundamental profiles: size, age, service life expectancy (condition), and risk.

Size is so basic, yet is often considered trivial and remains unknown. However, size is the common factor in most budget and cost calculations. You cannot know if you are funding at a sustainable level if you don’t know roof square footage.

Age can reveal a lot about the past and help you develop a strategy for the future. Roofs that are 15 years old may increase the risk rating slightly. However, this is particularly troublesome if there are systemic material formulation problems within your portfolio. Robust materials and systems allow roofs to last into their 20s and even 30s.

As we emerge from a tough economy and a period of underfunding, the need to recognize risk has grown immensely. A risk profile is important because it is rare that roof funding will be available on a yearly basis to address all the facilities’ needs.

With a shortage of funding being the norm, it is necessary to prioritize spending and activities. Rather than prioritize based solely on age, condition, or the squeaky wheel, you must consider risk. Limited funding will force you to address the biggest risks first, including areas with important occupancy, high sensitivity, increased likelihood of business interruption, or high probability of system failure.

It is very important that an assessment of the physical assets be conducted with expertise and objectivity in order to recognize systemic tendencies and predict realistic service life potential. Having reliable information can reveal if a tidal wave of roofing issues is coming your way.

4) Build a Budget
As part of your assessment, also plan to assess past spending patterns. Determine what investments have been made for roof repair, maintenance, and replacement. Ideally, you can look back on past spending, and based on your physical assessment, you can forecast with a three- to five-year budget. Every facility should have a budget that includes roof repair, maintenance, replacement, and inspections.

Most likely you will look back and recognize a pattern of under spending. This may present a more difficult environment to justify a larger, more adequate budget because management often considers previous spending as precedent, and year-over-year increases are scrutinized heavily.

5) Take Action
As you develop your action plan, remember that the most effective strategies for long-term roof performance are balanced with well-thought-out approaches to:

  • Preventive maintenance/repair: Protect your roof assets – it’s likely that a higher percentage of your roofs are due for some level of preventive maintenance or repair. This is not simply fixing leaks; it is planned and proactive. Often, preventive maintenance and repair activities are overlooked even though they typically require the smallest dollar investment and provide the highest return.

  • Design: Professional design fees tend to be a small part of an overall roofing budget but can have the highest impact on long-term roof performance, especially when combined with preventive maintenance. Leaders should have established corporate roof design guidelines that also include risk management objectives as well as bidding and procurement processes.

  • Construction: Proactively managing construction projects and implementing a quality control process will improve the quality, safety, and reliability of the roof system. No amount of preventive maintenance or repairs will make up for an improperly installed roof.

Executing a three-prong assessment of your team, physical assets, and available funding will provide a solid foundation for determining future resource requirements and strategy. You will also have the information needed to form an action plan and, more importantly, justify that plan to management.


Ron Harriman is a senior consultant and partner with Benchmark, Inc. (www.benchmark-inc.com), a roof and pavement consulting firm based in Cedar Rapids, IA. He can be reached at rharriman@benchmark-inc.com.


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