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Dentists pull teeth, surgeons cut, roofers replace

To a dentist, the sure

Re-skinning a Ballasted EPDM Roof with TPO

-fire cure for a tooth ache is to pull the tooth. To a surgeon, if something hurts, just cut it out. For a roofing contractor, the best way to stop a leak is to replace the whole roof. You know these are rarely the best solutions to address the problem…the simplest solutions rarely are.


Recently, we were engaged by a client who was purchasing a 4-story, commercial investment property. We were asked to assess the life expectancy of the existing roof and found that in this case, it truly had reached its natural end. It was an older membrane covered by river rock (ballast) which holds the roofing system in place and protects the membrane and in turn the building, from exposure and damage.


In inspecting the roof, we devised a few options which were a bit more work, but offered significant cost savings to the investor. We could salvage the underlying insulation, for instance, which was still in fine working shape and still had nearly infinite life. Additionally, we could update the membrane to modern technology. Last, we determined that we could salvage the river rock and avoid opening the entire roof at once. Rather than affixing the membrane with adhesives, we could move the ballast to the side, replace the membrane, then move the rock back. More labor, less materials.


The simpler solution was to remove the rock, tear off and replace the existing insulation and membrane, then replace all of it, secured by generous application of adhesives.


In retaining the rock, rather than removing, several young laborers were physically challenged by shoveling to-and-fro while the membrane was replaced, but we reduced the overall cost of the roof replacement by 25%.…by keeping the existing insulation, we introduced significant savings to the cost of the job (nearly 60% of the total cost of replacement).

This entire process, called “skinning the roof,” was not the simplest, easiest solution, but by taking the harder path, we saved our investor roughly 85% of the total cost to replace an expired roof. As the contractor, an 85% increase to revenue would have obviously been nice, but by taking the time to understand the long/short term goals of the investor we build on what is truly beneficial, a long term relationship and a win/win.

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