Less Surprise Costs for Schools with Roofing Programs

By Kevin Long

Why do Roofs Fail?
A roof is like a car. Regular maintenance will extend its life and keep everything running smoothly. Ignoring it and hoping for the best usually results in a leak and other repairs that could exceed the cost of your regular maintenance.

What if the roof leaks or fails over the media center, or the library? What about the gym with its wood floors? Unexpected replacement of computers, books, and flooring not only takes away from a productive learning environment, but adds greatly to your district’s expenses. Having an “out of sight, out of mind” mentality usually leads to disaster.

Instead of waiting until a roof starts leaking - or worse, fails - consider creating a roofing program that will allow your school district the ability to budget for future years the roof repairs or replacements that are needed. Roof consultants can help develop a proactive roofing program to assist you and school board, in the budgeting and planning for future roofing expenditures.

What is a roofing program?

A roofing program starts a proactive plan that lets school districts budget for maintenance, repairs or replacement over a period of several years. Your roofing program should include a complete assessment of each roof area in the district, the age of the roof, the size of the roof, and what the existing roof assembly is comprised of, whether any repairs/replacements are recommended, and the estimated construction costs for the recommended repairs/replacements. All of the information can be collected in a roofing program software program that can be updated as repairs are made and roofs are replaced. Expenditure reports are generated on a monthly, quarterly, etc. basis, so the district can track their expenditures. Software also eliminates the need for all of the paper used to keep track of the information currently.

Why do we need a Roofing Program?

All roofs should be reviewed in the Spring and Fall each year. Most roofing problems develop during the extreme temperatures of the Summer and Winter, and repairing the problems is vital to the life of your roofs. Documenting the history of each roof is important to the foundation of every successful roofing program. Roofing systems are made up of many layers, and having trained professionals review your roof assemblies improves the likelihood that any existing defects will be captured and noted in the history of the roof.

Why do roofs fail?

Roofs fail for several different reasons, such as lack of maintenance, structural changes/movement, the building not being used the way it was originally constructed for, and most importantly exposure to sunlight, moisture and, in Iowa, the freeze/thaw that takes place every year.

When considering a roofing program for your school, ask yourself:

Can we inspect our roofs?

Yes, you can inspect your roof on your own. A roofing professional should be an extension of your staff to help you when appropriate. Consider working with a roofing professional who is trained to look at many different roof assemblies and document items that need repaired, replaced, or to show you what structures need no work at all is needed.

Do my roofs have a warranty?

Over time, district employees retire or leave, and with them goes the historic roof information including when past upkeep projects were completed, what contractor performed the work and any warranty information. This type of information is vital to a successful roofing program in assisting the district in making decisions about their roofing needs. All of this information should be included in a roofing program.

Why do we pay for roof repairs on a roof that is covered by a manufacturer’s warranty?

Manufacturer’s warranties cover items that fail due to improper installation, roof assembly failures from wind speeds less than what the warranty stipulates, etc. What they don’t cover is damage created by others, such as holes created by HVAC contractors dropping tools, dropping HVAC doors, torches, rocks being thrown up onto a roof, and several “Acts of God”-type items, such as hail and excessive wind speeds. It is not uncommon for owners to pay for repairs that should have been covered by the warranty. Working with a roofing professional can help you identify those repairs.

Energy savings?

Energy codes are much different now than 20 years ago. In a heating-dominate climate like Iowa, buildings are heated far more often than cooled. Roofing material and insulation play an important part in a school’s energy efficiency. According to the 2012 International Energy Conservation Code (IECC), there are 2 climate zones in Iowa. For all buildings approximately south of Highway 20, new roofs assemblies are required to have a minimum R-value of 25, and for buildings approximately north of Highway 20, an R-value of 30 is required. Bringing roofs up to these R-values can result in energy cost savings for your school.

How much can we plan to spend on a new roof?

The cost of replacing a roof can vary depending on what roof assembly the district chooses to install. With the current state requirements for the R-value of insulation, the only variance is what roof system you choose to install. It has been our experience that if a District was to totally remove the existing roof assembly and install a new roof assembly (less metal roofs), meeting all Building Codes, the estimated cost should be approximately $10.00 - $13.00 per square foot of roof.

There are also three (3) Iowa Codes that stipulate when a District, based on the population and cost of construction, is required to obtain Competitive Bids, Competitive Quotes, or obtain prices themselves.

Competitive Bids

(section 26.3) states that all projects with an estimated total cost of construction exceeding $135,000, shall be competitively bid and have plans and specifications prepared by an Architect, Engineer, or Landscape Architect, provided for the bid process.

Competitive Quotes

(section 26.14) states that all projects with an estimated cost of construction exceeding $75,000 and a population of more than 50,000, and projects with an estimated cost of construction exceeding $55,000 and a population less than 50,000, shall be competitively quoted and have plans and specifications prepared by an architect, engineer, or landscape architect, provided for the quotation process.

“If the estimated cost of construction is less than the competitive quotation threshold, subsection 26.14.2 provides that the governmental entity may proceed with either competitive quotation or competitive bidding.”

Roofs should be considered an asset for the district, and with a proactive roofing program, they can be.

Kevin Long, QCxPKevin Long, QCxP

Roof Consulting
Building Envelope
  I began my 28+ year Building Envelope Consultant career on the supply side, then contracting, and came full circle with my current position providing Roof Consulting/Design. Through this unique experience, I’ve gained knowledge about many different types of materials used in creating roof assemblies, how these materials should be applied in different situations, specifying these materials and using computer-aided design processes to design roof assemblies for individual roof areas. I’ve worked on building envelope inspection, design and management services for school districts, healthcare complexes, government facilities, industrial plants, and office buildings.

I enjoy sharing what I’ve learned with my clients and they trust that I have their best interests at heart. My clients appreciate that I will always listen, tell them what they need to hear, and will assist an Owner and Contractor, to the best of my abilities. My definition of a successful project is when the Owner, Contractor, and Shive-Hattery are happy and are willing to work together again.

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