Commercial Roofing 101: The Inspection Process

Posted on: 24 August 2021


If you have recently purchased a commercial building, one of the first things that you should do is to schedule a commercial roof inspection. You may not think that a roof inspection is that big of a deal, especially if you hired a building inspector as part of the purchase process. However, the overall building inspection may have missed key elements of the roofing structure since those inspectors don't specialize in roofing. Here's a look at what happens when you schedule an actual commercial roofing inspection for your building.

Interior Assessment

You might not think so, but a good commercial roofing inspection starts from inside. Your roofing inspector will walk through your entire building, looking at the ceilings and the walls for any indications of water leaks or other roofing failures that may be affecting the interior of the building. This helps to identify any obvious problem areas that will need attention.

Mold growth, moisture, and water stains are all signs that your roof is leaking and causing damage to your building. Most roofing contractors are trained to look for these signs in the areas where standard building inspectors might not think to look, so it's an important part of the roof inspection.

Exterior Inspection

After looking around inside the building and identifying any likely problem areas, the next step of your commercial roof inspection will involve the roofing contractor actually looking at the roof itself. 

Usually, this starts from the ground, looking at the entire area of the roof for any signs of discoloration that may be visible from a distance. These usually are signs of pooling water or other similar issues that will need to be addressed.

Then, the contractor will get on the roof and do a thorough inspection of the roofing area. This inspection will include steps like checking seams, looking for soft spots, watching for signs of pooling water, and evaluating the roof coating. 

They will also want to get a look at what's happening beneath the visible roofing surface. This requires taking small samples from the roof. The roofing contractor will cut out very small portions of the roofing area to look at what's under the roof. 

Key elements of this part of the inspection include evaluating how many layers of roofing are present, what the condition of the insulation is, and whether or not there are any signs of moisture damage beneath the surface. Don't worry — your roofing contractor will repair and seal these areas afterward so that you're not left with damage or vulnerable spots.

Protrusion Evaluation

Before your roofing contractor exits the roof, they will also look at anything that protrudes from your roof. Commercial roofing usually has several areas that are vulnerable because of protrusions, often caused by commercial HVAC system installation and other similar components. The flashing and sealant around these areas should be in good condition, free of cracking, warping, or drying.

Final Reporting

Once the roof inspection itself is complete, you'll wait for the final report from the commercial roofing contractor. This usually takes a few days. That final report will detail all of the elements that were inspected and what the contractor's findings were.

Not only does this report highlight any damage that must be repaired now, but it will also give you an indication of where your roof may need attention in the coming years. This is ideal for developing a maintenance plan for your commercial building. Since you'll need the time to work these capital expenditures into the company budget, the sooner you can start prepping for them, the better.

Finally, the report will also include recommended actions to resolve anything that's been flagged as concerning. If you have any questions about your roof inspection or the report that you're provided, reach out to your roofing contractor for clarification.