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Introduction to Roof Asset Management


Article: No. BRAM-KB-2-14.1

Summary:  This article we will provide an overview of Roof Asset Management (RAM) to provide building owners, property managers and service providers a basic understanding of  RAM service types.


The Author can be reached by e-mail for questions concerning content or the opinions expressed in this article. Please use the Article number for reference.


What is the Goal?
The roofing service goal for many commercial building owners and their managers is to maintain building/roofing assets to support the business mission. Like other business assets, there is a capital cost to acquire the asset,costs to keep the asset in working condition and replacement at the end of its useful life. Roof Asset Management is the activities that support the life cycle management of roofing systems.


One metric for rating the total cost to the organization, is the cost for one year of roofing service.  Vehicles are often rated for the cost per mile of service. For roofing, I recommend using the annual cost metric.  The goal then is to lower this annual cost.  Roof Asset management then would include all the activities from acquisition to replacement to provide the expected level of service at the lowest cost per year.


During the last twenty years the professionals in the roofing industry have developed a solid understanding of the benefits of roof asset management; A proactive vs passive reactive approach.  It is perplexing that there is still a low percentage of compliance, even by institutional owners where the buildings will be managed for 20, 30, 50+ years.


One factor to low adoption is a short term view of managing the building. This may be based on the business mission, or facility management that may not be accountable to improve. Either way, Without some level of committment, building managers may dismiss adopting a formal roof management plan, or if they do adopt one, the commitment may be infrequent assessments for critical care only.


The opportunity for service providers is to consider the organization’s business goals ,then identify facility managers that will advocate the best practices to support their organization’s mission. As an example; Institutional owners that maintain ownership to their facilities, may avoid service companies maintaining historical data in non standard formats, however, they will look for qualified service firms that can help them make assessments, collect obervations and update their data files.


Consultant service providers with full Roof Asset Management programs are often faced with these barriers/opportunities when proposing services.  Their full service programs in a transferable database are often compared to a plethora of roofing service programs created and packaged for annual maintenance services. Service programs offered by roofing contractors, propriety material service firms, have evolved to service agreements that are low cost, sometimes no cost in exchange for access to roof repairs and replacements. As a result, owners have been sold “ Asset Management” when  the goals of the service firm is focused on sales opportunities.


There will be businesses that by design have a short term view of the facility life cycle. e.g. Real Estate developers, trusts, partnerships where the building will be sold in a few years. However, poor service documentation can lower the resale value. Being aware of short term cost control businesses, distressed properties and sites where the business mission is a natural barrier to make the economic case for RAM. These organizations are less likely to maintain good roofing records and invest in managing their roofing assets.


However, many businesses want to optimize the performance of their buildings, benefit from the lowering the annual cost for roofing service and therefore will be open to a Roof Asset Management program.


What does roof asset management include?


There are several areas and depending on the intensity of the roof management objectives they may include one or all of these areas.


  1. The design of the roofing system
  2. Selection of materials and attachments in the roofing system assembly
  3. The installation workmanship and quality assurance
  4. The roofing system accessories and flashing systems
  5. Documenting the as built roofing information
  6. The system maintenance and repairs


Where a comprehensive asset management plan may start with design, then selection of materials, installation quality assurance, documenting the as built construction with details, listing OEM materials, site conditions during installations and out of spec details during the initial construction, a less intensive  approach may start at (5) with repairs based on observations well after the warranty period has ended.


 What often is missed in setting up a Roof Asset Management plan is the importance of using the initial system choice as a baseline for future replacement options.  As the roof asset program is established the performance of the roofing system; system construction; cost per roofing year can be compared to other systems being managed.  This owner specific performance data is often the best available prediction for future systems.


It will be important to prepare accurate as built roofing records to establish the in place roofing system records. This information is less expensive when maintained by the building owner in a comprehensive database. Many initial surveys can be costly since as built records were not maintained and core cuts and other destructive inspection methods may be required to verify materials, attachments and conditions.


While service providers often provide this service, the data should be in a format that allows the building owner to transfer all files seamlessly on demand. Readers should reference; choosing a roof inspection firm to better understand the differences between consultants, suppliers with feild sales services and roofing services firms operating in the roofing industry.


Using new construction documents, assessment data .RPE data files, and data entry from observations once the records are in place the files will serve as the baseline for tracking condition and service observations.


Commercial Roof System- As Built Data

Roof System Construction


Existing System type

Document the layers of the existing roof system type.

Core Composition

The core information is obtained by taking a roof core; the information may also be obtained from "As Built" records.  Layer Type Standard entries are Surfacing, Membrane, Insulation, Vapor retarder, Deck, and Interior Finish. Provide a description of the layer type from the deck up, or surface down. Include the Method of Attachment to the layer.


Note: Also, details for roof systems on metal or shingle roof sections, where a physical core is not appropriate, should also be documented.

Core Photos

Include Core Photos in report to document the roof system.  

Membrane Defects


1. Type of Defect

Defect type (e.g. blisters, bare felts, splits).

2. Severity

Severity rating (Minor, Moderate, Major)

3. Quantity

The quantity of this defect type

4. Status

Outstanding if this defect has yet to be repaired.

5. Photo

Photo (s) shows the defect.

6. Details and Condition

A  description of the type, cause, size,  additional details

Roof Top Details


1. Detail Type

Perimeter, drain, projection, or equipment.

2. Description

A description of the terminating item such as parapet wall, projection, gravel stop, pitch pocket.                                     

3. Flashing membrane

Description of the flashing membrane (if applicable).

4. Flashing metal

Description of the flashing metal (if applicable).

5. Photo

Photo shows construction detail and flashing

6. Details and conditions

Details and condition information for each roof top detail that should be documented.

Moisture Surveys


1. Type of Survey

The type of survey performed.                                                        

2. Date performed

Date of the survey.

3. Membrane condition

Membrane condition (e.g. dry, damp, wet).

4. Insulation condition

Insulation condition (e.g. dry, damp, wet).

5. Survey details

Additional information about the survey performed, if required

6. Survey photos

One or more photos, with a date and description of the findings

7. Thermographs

One or more Thermographs, with a date and description             

8. Historical

Record  any relevant history , delta of previous moisture surveys



1. Type of Activity

Type of activity - e.g. inspection, repair, replacement etc.

2. Budget Year

Recommendations to be completed, a specific budget year.

3. Action Items?

Recommended activity is one that must be done ASAP in order to eliminate health and safety issues, or to prevent high cost repairs later on.                                               

4. Allocation

Budget allocation - e.g. expense or capital.

5. Urgency

Urgency - low, moderate, high.

6. Budget Cost

Estimate budget amount                                             

7. Details of Activity

An explanation of the recommended roofing activity.

8. Scope of work

Any reference documents                         


Building managers should establish an inventory of roofing systems to schedule collecting the current observations will allow building managers to prepare budget plans based on roofing system conditions.


New technologies and data transfer technologies allow setting up hundreds of sites in a database at a low cost without relying on the initial site observations.  This data structure can be used as sites are selected for site inspections, and condition observations.


Building managers can prioritize higher value facilities, higher risk installations to establish a selection of roofing systems for condition observations 1-2 times per year; with special attention after storms and weather events where there could be damage.


The result of the observations is to establish a list of recommendations for preventative repairs up to capital funds for replacement for each roof section. The reporting format, should allow for listing the roofing systems by condition (RCI) index, leaking status, warranties in place and budget listings outstanding repairs.


There are other articles on the site that will help with selecting roofing systems for capital replacement, and rating and ranking roof systems for repairs.


The process of working from accurate records, making scheduled observations, rating and ranking service recommendations are an effective part of any Roof Asset Plan.


Knowing the building owner’s organization’s service objective, and commitment to long term asset ownership may determine the business fit for investing in Roof Asset Management.


Audience:   Building Owners, Property Managers, Facility Managers, V.P. Construction, Director of Building and Grounds, School Boards, Town Managers, Condo Construction Committees.


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