5 Roofing Questions to Ask Before Purchasing a Commercial Property

Kathleen Maxwell | August 10, 2023

aerial view of commercial property.

So you’ve found the perfect commercial building for your business. It’s in the right location, and the price is within your budget. Congratulations! But before you break out the champagne, take a moment to assess the building. An inspection can help give you a general overview of the health and the age of the building. While assessing the HVAC, construction, water, and sewer lines are all important steps, you’ll want to pay special attention to the condition of the building’s roof.

An aging roof in disrepair can be one of the most expensive building components to replace or remediate. With a price tag in the tens of thousands, a roof that needs replacement can quickly turn your commercial investment property into a serious financial liability. To prevent that scenario, we’ve put together key questions to ask about the roof condition before you purchase a commercial building. Run through this checklist before you sign the paperwork on your new commercial building.

1. When was the roof built?

If you’re considering purchasing a building, you likely know the year that it was first constructed, but your roof may be newer than the building itself. Be sure to establish a clear timeline so you know when a new roof was put on a building and exactly which materials were replaced.

Sometimes commercial building owners re-roof a commercial building, replacing only the outer materials of the roof membrane and leaving the existing roof deck intact. Knowing the age of both the roof deck and the membrane is critical to understanding the true age of the roof. No commercial roof lasts forever, but knowing when it may need to be replaced could factor into your budget.

2. What material is the roof made of?

While many flat roofs look the same to the untrained eye, the materials used to construct a roof can enormously affect its durability. Knowing the material of a commercial building’s roof can help calculate future maintenance costs and a replacement timeline.

3. When was the last inspection?

Not every roofing problem manifests as an obvious leak. Commercial roofs can have many hidden problems that are only revealed during an inspection by a qualified roofing professional. If the seller has the building’s roof maintained regularly, they should have maintenance reports they can share with potential buyers. They may also have a complete history of inspections and service visits in recent years.

4. How has the roof been maintained?

Commercial roofs need regular inspections and maintenance in order to last for their full expected lifespan. Ask the building seller if they have a roofing maintenance schedule and how often they get routine roof repairs. If the seller can’t produce a maintenance schedule, you may need a more detailed inspection to determine the condition of the roof prior to purchasing.

5. Are there any existing warranties? If so, what are the conditions?

Most roofing materials come with a manufacturer warning in case they fail. In most cases, these warranties have specific conditions that can void the terms of the warranty if they are not followed. Before purchasing a commercial property, you should know which warranties exist and learn how to avoid breaking any warranty terms. A qualified roofing partner can help manage your warranties and ensure that they are properly fulfilled in the event of a roofing failure.

If you are considering purchasing a commercial property and want to know what roofing questions to ask, contact Maxwell Roofing & Sheet Metal today. Our team of inspectors would be happy to help.

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