Repair or Replace your Roof

I am frequently asked by customers if I think its time for them to replace their roof. My answer is always the same. Its time for a new roof when your tired of paying for repairs. It really is that simple. You can read my blog about "do I need a new roof?" HERE. But, for the purposes of this blog, let’s assume you’re the federal government of rich movie star and financing a new roof is no problem. You just want to make sure you’re not throwing money away. As it turns out, there is a system to determine when it doesn’t make sense to repair a roof anymore.

The Army Corps of Engineers developed a system of measuring the components of a roof to determine how many years it has left. This is termed Remaining Service Life (RSL). The program they developed was called ROOFER. I was so enamored by this program that I named this company Preventive Maintenance Support Services instead of something like Kris Irr Roofing. I was sure multi-property owners would pay me well to manage their roof inventories, saving them boat loads of cash by staving off expensive re-roofs. Boy was I silly. Turns out no one cares. Roofs are managed in crises mode not good planning. If the roof is leaking get it fixed fast for the cheapest possible price, quality “be dammed”. We can talk about maintenance later say most property managers.

Roofer breaks the roof into three systems. The flashing, insulation and membrane systems categorize into specific defects and density, each with severity levels (low, medium and high). An example is

BF, 10, Low: This is Base Flashing, density 10%, severity Low. Density being the percentage of the defect in terms of the total area.

The Corp spent many years of research and effort developing log tables (logarithmic) for each specific defect. There are dozens of them. Each defects table differs from the other. The Base Flashing table looks like this.

One uses the Severity Level curve at the density level to find a deductive value that will be subtracted from a new roofs value of 100. All deficiency deductive values are added together for each system component (membrane, insulation and flashing) and subtracted from 100 to get the System Performance Value. Values below 25 are considered poor.

Can the Roof Be Repaired?

Repairs can be cost effectively made if the overall Roof Condition Index (RCI) is above 25. Here is the formula:

RCI = (0.7 x lowest system condition index) + (0.15 x Sum of remaining condition indexes)

And the Maintenance Repair or Replacement (MRR) recommendations are as follows:

Table 1 MRR Recommendations

RCI                         Recommendation

86 - 100                Routine Maintenance

71 - 85                  Minor Repairs Needed

56- 70                    Moderate Repairs Needed

41 - 55                  Major Repairs Needed

26- 40                   Replacement Probable

11 - 25                  Replacement Needed

1 - 10                     Replacement Critical

Signs That Your Roof Needs Replacement

The obvious signs are an increase in the frequency of new roof leaks. Poor appearance my be an indication of its condition. A roof systems deterioration is exponential not lineal. A roofing system that develops a leak in 10 years may only take two additional years to develop a second leak. The Roofer program has the definitive answer to the question “Do I need a new roof?”. If an objective and exhaustive inspection, made by a qualified professional, is completed and the numbers crunched, the drop-dead date for your roof can be calculated precisely.

When You Need Roof Repair

Assuming your roof is not completely toast, a roof repair is in order whenever it leaks. Even if you plan on replacing the roof it’s a good idea to mitigate your damaged inside with at least a quick repair. But in general, the quality of the repair is important. Most home and building owners don’t consider the quality of the workmanship. They are focused on the price instead. The figure below really spotlights the importance of a well planed and executed roof repair.

The first curve represents the natural deterioration of a roof. We can observe the Remaining Service Life (RSL) by moving horizontally from the RCI calculated above. In this example a RCI of 75 at year 15 will fall to 25 at age 23, if nothing is done. It has a RSL of 8 years. However, if adequate repairs focusing on the defects discovered in the inspection are completed, the RCI will improve to 87. The RSL increases to 11 years. Therefore, the repairs provide an Additional Service (ASL) of 3 years. The ASL of the repairs will only be realized if the repairs are of top quality. One can even use the cost of the repairs to qualify how much each years ASL costs in dollars. An important nugget to consider before pulling the trigger and authorizing the work.

How to Pay for Your New Roof

There is always the good old fashion way just paying out of pocket. But for most of us financing is probably a better option. Most tile roofs cost about $20,000.00. A five-year loan will have about $500.00 per month payments. There is also a loan option taken against the equity in your home. There is no credit check and the load does not appear on your credit report. You borrow the money and your tax bill increases.

Insurance can pay for some. I have several customers that I have made 5 or more repairs for them. They have big homes and they are waiting for a hurricane to blow through. It’s a bit sketchy but not as big a stretch as you might think. Each of these customers are going to wait for at least a “near miss” hurricane. Then they will hire a public adjuster and file a lawsuit. The plaintiff will have an advantage with a jury that will have no sympathy for the insurer. The down side, of course, is that a direct hit hurricane may level the house and while it might be covered by insurance, who wants to live through that?

Getting Reimbursed for a Roof Replacement

I have seen customers go out of pocket after a near miss hurricane and replace their roof. When complete they make an insurance claim. Since the roof is gone and now new, there is nothing for the insurer to inspect. There is nothing but an angry client claiming their roof was so bad they had to protect their home and replace it. These cases also end up in court with an unsympathetic jury and believe it or not, have a high rate of success.


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