The Unexpected Expense of Repairing a Flat Roof

A flat roof has many benefits if it is installed properly.  Flat roofs are pretty common for commercial buildings in the Toronto area, but sometimes they are looked at as a potential liability if proper drainage is not installed.  This can cause water to pool and erode the integrity of the roof over time.  The results can be disastrous to your commercial property investment.  For this reason, if you are considering a building with a flat roof, you would do well to consult a property management group like HighGate that can inspect the roof and determine if the proper drainage is in place and if there is any existing damage.  These folks have a trained eye when it comes to this sort of damage so referring to them is wise.  It is also important to point out that installing a flat roof is typically a cheaper option, which means there might be a greater potential for failure over time.

Why do people choose flat roofs?

Repairing a Flat RoofFor the most part, flat roofs are more versatile than pitched roofs.  They are easier to build and require less expense due to the fact that less building materials are used to make them.  They can be more aesthetically pleasing than pitched roofs and allow for the simple addition of HVAC equipment at a later date if needed.

What causes a flat roof to fail?

Flat roofs are typically very heavy, which means if not properly supported, the joists underneath them can fail and represent an immediate danger to your tenants.  Flat roofs also tend to pool water if not properly setup to drain, which can lead to leaks.  Gravel used with built-up roofs (BURs) can find its way into your gutters and cause drainage problems as well.  Rubber membrane flat roofs are easy to patch, but the other side to that coin is that they are easily punctured as well, so you will need to inspect them regularly.

How much does it cost to fix/replace a flat roof?

The different forms of flat roof can definitely affect the price and some of them require maintenance in the form of re-spraying or re-shingling to extend the life of the roof.  These costs should also be considered when shopping for materials.  For an average-sized roof on a commercial building you can expect to spend between $10,000-$30,000 to replace it, with standing seam roofing being the most expensive and asphalt roll roofing being the least.

For the reasons above it is important to bring in an experienced property manager for your Toronto-based commercial real estate ventures.  These professional managers can hire specialists that will inspect the roof to determine how current it is and what to expect in the future.  They can also determine if the flat roof typically pools water or has signs of puncture that would indicate a leak.  Should you find these types of damages or imperfections, it may be better to avoid the property so you don’t take on the added liability of a roof that will fail sooner than later.  One suggestion is that if you have money in your budget for a re-application of single-ply, sprayed polyurethane or asphalt, you may contact your property manager to have it re-coated at the time of purchase to ensure you are not blindsided by the expense down the road.

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