Maintenance is a normal part of our daily lives, and it never seems to end. Cars need oil changes, light bulbs need to be replaced, exterior paint needs to be touched up, the lawn needs to be trimmed, the house needs to be cleaned, and the kids need to be fed. As with most other things, the roof system of a structure requires maintenance.
Owner Approaches to Roof Maintenance
There are two main approaches property owners can take when it comes to their roof systems: proactive or reactive. Most property owners would fall under the reactive category for various reasons, including time constraints and budget. These property owners ignore the roof system until minor problems that could have been detected earlier result in expensive damages — by which point it may already be too late. In certain parts of the United States, precipitation is not a year-round threat, so roof issues can be out of sight and out of mind until they later present themselves at inconvenient times. It goes without saying that there is something left to be desired by this approach. Despite many owners taking reactive approaches to roof inspections, others are finding that a proactive approach is better suited to their needs. Roof inspection requests are thus increasing nationwide, with requests coming from:
● Residential and commercial property owners in escrow
● Those establishing a cause of loss for an insurance claim
● People shopping for property insurance or attempting to secure a loan
● Owners who just want to be informed
The final category in particular indicates that some owners are becoming more proactive, trying to determine what their roofing needs may be before a minor problem becomes a disaster. However, even though they may prefer to be proactive, many owners are at a loss for what to look for when attempting to prevent and fix roofing issues. There are fewer components to a roof system than a pepperoni pizza, but owners are rarely roofing professional themselves. In completing roofing inspections, roofing professionals must “think like a raindrop,” as rain often precipitates the discovery of roofing problems. Our job is to educate owners on their roofs’ conditions to help them make informed decisions.
Roof Inspections: Benefits and Types
Roof inspections are critical in establishing a baseline for the overall care plan for a roof. It is true that roof issues may be picked up on a property/building inspection report; however, these reports usually contain limited remarks made by a generalist with a recommendation to have the roof further evaluated by a licensed roofing specialist. A proper inspection helps achieve RoofAssurance ™.
There are two main types of roof inspections currently offered on the market. The first is a free inspection. This service provides a free estimate to clients who, in many cases, are already dealing with an active roofing problem. These reactive owners are a target for higher-than- average quotes due to the immediate need for work. In addition, this “free” service is typically limited in scope — the company typically only inspects approximately 20 percent of the roof (rooftop only), and the owner will, at best, receive a simple estimate on company letterhead. Costs may therefore grow as the roofing work proceeds and more problems are found with the roofing system. A Roof inspectors goal should be to effectively and confidently determine the integrity of the roof system. This can’t be accomplished only inspecting 20% of the system excluding the interior components of the structure.
The other type of inspection is a paid service with prices ranging from $300 to a few thousand dollars depending on the property’s size and the purpose of the inspection. The national average for an average-sized roof inspection is $350 for a LeakFREE ™ Roof Inspection and $475 for a ForensicROOF ™ Inspection. Because situations vary, the amounts of effort or time spent during the inspection significantly impacts the pricing. The investigation process in these inspections is much more detailed, starting from the inside out. There are hidden components to all roof systems that can’t be observed from the rooftop, such as the waterproof underlayment, mechanical fasteners, and moisture stains. This type of paid inspection should come with a comprehensive written report and a proposal package without an additional fee. The choice of whether to apply a portion or all of the inspection fee to work later completed is up to the contractor.
You may ask: “What is the difference if a licensed roofing company completes both types of inspections?” To help explain the difference to customers, I’ll share a short personal story. I like to golf. I’m not very good at it, but I enjoy the game. Each time I golf, I usually have a few good shots, and these keep me returning for another round of frustration. I was interested in purchasing a new set of clubs a few years ago. I could either go to a golf shop or attend free demo events to try out the manufacturer’s latest and greatest products. However, these events left me feeling like I was just being sold random golf clubs without truly finding out what I needed to succeed. Instead, I chose to pay for a professional fitting so I could find out what clubs would work the best for me. In addition, a portion of the fitting cost would be applied to a set of clubs if I decided to purchase them after the fitting. Similarly, when it comes to the roofing industry, you pay for what you get. Contractors offering free services want to close deals, sell roofs, and move on to their next free appointment. However, a paid roof inspection brings much more value to the client, as the inspector is paid for his time, knowledge, expertise, and transparent documentation.
Following a simple process is the key to producing comprehensive, detail-oriented, and informative inspections that not only correctly educate clients but also bring in revenue. A service-first attitude and transparent process helps increase job conversion. Stepping into a new service may seem daunting, but my advice is to try not to overcomplicate things. Inspecting a roof system is not difficult as long as you “think like a raindrop.”
Inspecting Roofs the NRCIA Way
An NRCIA-Certified Roof Inspector investigates five different zones of the structure: the interior, attic, exterior, perimeter, and rooftop. In addition, they will ask themselves three main questions:
1. Is the roof currently leaking?
2. Does the roof have a likelihood of leaking?
3. Is the roof system repairable should a leak occur within two years (average certification
If you have training and roofing experience, these points should be relatively easy to identify. Of course, there are times when a further exploratory inspection is required when roof trauma is not observable at a leak location. Exploratory inspections (in which a roof may require opening to find the faulty area) are a separate service and should be billed accordingly. A roof inspector should not cause any damage while inspecting a roof system, and should instead leave no trace that they were ever present. Once you have identified key issues, you will have to document them in a way that can tell a story to the client. Photo documentation and software technology is essential to staying ahead of the competition. Taking photos of the various inspection zones is the primary building block to creating a good report for the owner. A roof should last at least two years after an inspection, along with any necessary repairs, are completed. Suppose the roof’s remaining serviceable life is less than two years — in that case, a complete roof replacement should be professionally recommended and presented in a way the owner can respect and agree with.
The easiest way to do this is by providing a photo-centric inspection report that indicates:
1. The roofing red flags you observed and implications if those deficiencies are not
2. The cause of the red flag (i.e., deferred maintenance, workmanship defect, normal wear
and tear, storm-related damage, etc.).
3. How to properly repair or replace the deficiency.
Providing a well-written, photo-centric report will help clarify the need for restorative work, explain the location of the roof deficiencies, and support job conversion as the owners can see exactly how the inspector came to their determination. These reports are a great resource to review if a reinspection is requested or if you are selected to perform additional roof work later on.
Final Words of Advice
Keep in mind that we, as roofing professionals, are in the service industry. By focusing everyday on being a service to others, the client will know you are there to serve their best interests and a sale will ultimately follow. Remember to:
● Serve first.
● Follow the inspection process in five zones: interior, attic (if accessible), exterior, perimeter, and rooftop.
● Stand out from your competition and inspect 100 percent of the roof system.
● Evaluate, educate, and document.
● Take pictures that can educate the client.
Paul J. Watrous is president of the National Roof Certification and Inspection Association (NRCIA).
Check out other great content featured in CoatingsPro Magazine: https://ampp.mydigitalpublication.com/october-2022/page-24