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Should you replace or repair a commercial facility’s roof?

Should you replace or repair your commercial facility's roof_

Should you replace or repair a commercial facility’s roof?

Should you replace or repair your commercial facility’s roof?

Why a roof replacement doesn’t always solve leaks

It’s one of the greatest misconceptions Facilities Managers hold about commercial roofs: the idea that a roof replacement will automatically result in improved roof integrity. Yet it’s easy to understand why they think this way.

It’s not unreasonable to expect that installing a new roof will help make a commercial or industrial building more water-tight. But unfortunately, there are a few different factors that can cause as many problems with a new roof as they would with an ageing roof.

In this news post the R&BS team investigate the reasons why simply replacing your commercial building’s roof may not be the best move – and suggest alternatives for you as a Facility Manager or Property Owner to consider.

1) Assess the cause of any existing roof leaks

A major cause of roof leaks in commercial buildings are the many penetrations that are caused by placing plant and equipment on the roof – not to mention roof top gardens, walkway systems, solar panels, and signage, all of which can create further penetrations.

Yet any new replacement roof will have to feature identical penetrations to accommodate these features.

That’s why simply replacing a roof won’t address the root cause of these leaks. You may find that your brand new, expensive roof leaks in exactly the same locations as its predecessor!

Usually the real cause of these leaks is poor-quality workmanship and substandard flashing materials used in conjunction with penetration detailing.

Pro tip for Facilities Managers:

Instead of replacing your building’s roof, have a full roof assessment conducted by a reputable professional. Make sure you ask them to thoroughly inspect the current penetrations and the condition of the surrounding membrane. You may be able to avoid a costly re-roof simply by resealing existing penetrations with high quality, guaranteed sealing systems.

2) Look out for deteriorating silicone quality

Many issues with roof quality and longevity can be traced back to issues with the quality and origin of the silicone used. With silicone increasingly being sourced from outside Australia, it can be difficult to assess and monitor product quality and reliability.

Current silicone products often have realistic lifespans of around two to three years, and manufacturers’ warranties are unlikely to apply by the end of this period. This leaves commercial Facilities Managers in a frustrating position, when they need to repair a relatively new roof that was initially expected to last up to 25 years.

Pro tip for Facilities Managers:

Roofing contractors who agree to provide long-term manufacturers’ warranties on ageing or deteriorating roofs are often aware that the roof will fail. They know that manufacturers will cite incorrect/inadvisable application when refusing to honour warranties.

To avoid this situation, ensure you request detailed information about a contractor’s products and suppliers. Make sure they’ll guarantee their own work, rather than relying upon manufacturers’ warranties.

3) Look for a long-lasting solution to roof leaks

Even as an experienced Facilities Manager, you may be unaware of the significant period of time your roof should last before it needs replacement. Many Facilities Managers have been incorrectly advised that a roof replacement is their best or only option. This may be down to an inexperienced contractor or, unfortunately, an unethical contractor looking to lock in a large re-roof contract unnecessarily.

The fact is, many factors can contribute to roof leaks, including faulty flashing detailing, incorrectly applied membranes, and deteriorating sealants – amongst other things. Leaks don’t necess= indicate a need for roof replacement, which should be viewed as a last resort.

Pro tip for Facilities Managers:

Often, putting a strategic maintenance program in place can extend the lifespan of your facility’s roof – sometimes by as much as 10 to 15 years. That’s why it’s critical to seek a consultancy report before you commit to undertaking major works on your roof. And if a contractor seems unreliable, don’t hesitate to seek a second opinion.

Avoiding unnecessary roof replacements – a checklist for Facilities Managers

As with any aspect of a modern commercial building, longevity and expenditure are often closely related. Choosing to have a new roof installed by an economical provider may seem to provide the best balance between these competing imperatives. Yet you can never really guarantee that this solution will stand the test of time.

To avoid a needless roof replacement, conduct a few simple pre-replacement checks:

Start with an inspection of your existing roof, and obtain a roof audit to gain a better understanding of existing penetrations, as well as any issues such as corrosion or the presence of pests. Knowledge of these problems will prevent future contractors exploiting them as a reason for roof replacement.

  • If a full roof replacement is recommended, always request a second opinion. After all, the cost of an inspection will be minimal compared to the cost of major capital works.
  • Ensure the roofing contractor provides a decent warranty that’s guaranteed both by the product manufacturer and the contractor themselves.
  • Lastly, ensure that contractors can demonstrate and justify the materials they propose to use, and ensure they source their materials from reliable suppliers.

As a Facilities Manager, your diligence when selecting a roofing contractor will ensure you can extract the maximum possible lifespan from your roof.

Arrange a professional, reliable audit of your facility’s roof

As we’ve seen, a roof replacement can potentially create more issues than it will address. So before you commit to replacing your commercial facility’s roof, take the time to speak to a trusted roofing consultant or contractor.

A reputable provider will be happy to sit down and thoroughly discuss the pros and cons of roof replacement and remediation, to ensure you extract the greatest value and longevity from any works under consideration.

For a complimentary, no-obligation 30 minute consultation with our experienced roof maintenance consultants, call R&BS now on 1800 550 037 or fill out the contact form below for a fast response.


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