Here’s a story with a happy ending. Sometimes you don’t need work on your school flat roof, but it is worth making sure that an experienced professional makes that decision.

A School Flat Roof - How do you know if you need work done?

A School Flat Roof – How do you know if you need work done?

We were recently contacted via this website by a Multi Academy Trust about one of their school flat roofs; so, we made arrangements for the school roof survey and produced a report.

The school were so happy with our service that they asked us to look at another flat roof at another one of their schools. They wanted to begin a process of planned maintenance on their school roofs.

Why planned maintenance on your school flat roof is important

Much of the maintenance of flat roofs is reactive – that is, it is carried out because there has been an issue. Perhaps there is a leak, or an overflow of water, or someone spots some damage from the ground. Reactive roof maintenance is costly, because there already is a problem, and chances are the problem you can see is much worse than you’ve just spotted.

On one MAT we are working with, there is a stock of 12 academies. The Trust is wisely concerned to avoid unplanned, costly works, so we are working through a programme of planned maintenance to reduce their exposure to unpredictable and unnecessary expenditure on costly failing roofs. Planned maintenance enables you to identify potential roof issues before the roofs fail.

Over a period, we are inspecting all the roofs on the 12-academy estate. We are identifying their age, possible risk areas, and if areas of roofing are coming to the end of their natural life. If a roof is in otherwise good condition but coming to the end of its natural life, it can have treatment to extend its life. This way we can avoid having to strip off old roof coverings to get to a failed roof deck (the surface which supports the roof insulation and membrane). By looking after the whole estate in this way, we can save the Trust considerable amounts of both disruption and money.

A roof at the end of its natural life can be given an overlay or new membrane. A good, well installed roof overlay, if done correctly, can give the roof another 20 years – we have several different flat roof overlay systems with 20 year warranties.

“A complete strip and re-roofing of a school flat roof can cost at least twice as much as a good quality overlay, so the savings can be considerable.”

Free Roof Survey – What We Did

Anyway, back to the story. The Multi Academy Trust put us in touch with the second school in their estate. This school had a new head teacher who, as is quite common, was not sure about the state of the school roof.  Any documentation about the roof had been lost, and there was no sign of any written warranty.

School Flat Roof Survey - PhotographsWe attended the school and carried out our free survey of the roof. Our inspection confirmed that the roof was in nearly new condition. Whilst there was no written warranty available for the roof, our survey was sufficient to confirm that it was not only in good condition but well under 10 years of age, which suggests that it is likely to be in warranty.

A less experienced team might have not known how to judge the age of the roof and authorised invasive works such as core samples. Carrying out a core sample on a roof with a warranty may invalidate the warranty because you are damaging the roof surface (even if it is properly repaired).

However, in this case samples were not necessary. Without carrying out any invasive works, we were able to inspect the roof and confirm that it appears to be in good condition.

We’ll be revisiting the roof in the coming years to make sure it continues to be in good condition, so that we can recommend works when they become necessary.

Sometimes you don’t need to do anything to your flat roofs except keep a learned eye on them.

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About the author – Ian Dryden

Ian is an experienced specification manager with ten years working in flat roofing. He works with our technical team of surveyors, technicians and roofing specialists at SIG Design and Technology to deliver better flat roofs on schools across the country.