It’s the million-dollar question. In some cases, it might literally be a million-dollar difference: the cost of repair versus replacement. The question is almost guaranteed to come up when the roof starts to become a chronic issue. Although cost is an important factor in all roof related decisions, there are other factors that need to be examined before deciding one way or another.

When a roof leak or damage occurs, the first course of action is determining the cause of the problem. Investigating the cause will address whether the leak is an isolated, repairable instance or perhaps the leak is a symptom of a much larger problem. More often than not, the first concern and question is “what is the cost going to be?” Obviously repairs will cost less now and may fix the issue, but it is critical to question the life span of the repair and examining the remaining roof system as a whole.

When questioning a repair versus replacement below are some factors and questions to consider:

  • How long will this repair last?
  • Will this extend the life expectancy of the current roof system?
  • Fixing the leak is the main concern now, but is this a temporary repair for a reoccurring problem?
  • Are the same issues occurring on other parts of the roof?
  • Are you working with a reputable contractor?
  • Is the roof being properly maintained?

An important part of the process is finding a contractor that is honest about your current situation and giving realistic options that best service your needs. Regardless if roofing repairs are in the budget each year, are the dollars being spent to maximize the ROI? If a roof is in its first half of the life expectancy, then repairs should be a viable option to help achieve maximum roof life expectancy. Depending on the system, coatings can help extend the life and solve multiple repair issues at once. Coatings are not a “new roof system” but manufacture warranties now give owners another cost option somewhere in the middle of repairs and replacement.

Proactively having your roof system routinely inspected and maintained by a roofing professional exposes any potential issues, and therefore saves time, money, and stress to both you and your tenants. Scheduling routine roof maintenance will save money over the life span of your roof, and address signs of potentially larger issues requiring more extensive work in the future. Budgeting for larger repairs or replacements is another key component of annual or biannual roof inspections. In doing so, building managers are able to plan for other possible building maintenance expenditures and properly allocate the necessary funds.

Replacing a roof system is a process but one that will see several different benefits. If an existing system is removed, state and local codes require certain insulation thickness and/or R Value to be installed as a substrate on existing roof decks. Often, the new insulation system dwarfs the existing, thus creating beneficial energy cost savings in the future. Those savings over the course of 15, 20, or 25 years (common roof warranties) should be factored into the decision of the repair versus replacement argument. Any roof replacement system that is installed by a reputable contracting firm should come with a manufacture transferable NDL full system warranty, which will back the labor and roofing products for the length of the warranty.

Deciding to repair or replace your roof is not an easy decision. However, using the above guidelines with a reputable contractor will alleviate the stress of the decision process, and find a solution that best suits your individual needs.

Tom Truelson
Vice President
1st Choice Roofing