Albert Einstein Quote

Problem Prevention is your Best Value

Some 10 years ago, business guru Peter F. Drucker published an article in The Wall Street Journal entitled, “We need to Measure, not Count.” The thrust of the article was that traditional cost accounting does not take into account the cost of non-producing. He proposed activity-based accounting as a better alternative.

To translate this into a roofing context, traditional accounting methods would consider the capital cost of a new roof system, and might even consider the Operating and Maintenance costs of keeping that roof going. This tends to seek the lowest cost roof that will do the job, or perhaps a more sophisticated owner might even compare options on a life-cycle basis.

Mr. Drucker suggests we could do more. Consider the scenario where a reasonable priced roof is installed by a reputable contractor. The life expectancy is 20 years, and a life-cycle comparison has indicated the best value. The roof budget would be prepared as part of an overall corporate plan.

But in Drucker’s context, let’s look at a potential case where all does not go as planned. A severe storm moves through, with wind gust reported to 100 mph, and hailstones as large as 2″ in diameter.

This severe hail causes many punctures in the roof system, and the presence of hailstones causes temporary blocking of the roof drains. Even worse, the metal edging on the corner of the building facing the wind has failed, and 40 squares of roofing along that edge have peeled back.

This results in considerable water entry, damaging critical components, including inventory, electrical systems and computers. This building is out of operation for two weeks. Orders are unfulfilled, sending customers to seek other sources.

As Mr. Drucker might ask, Where are these costs in the overall accounting program? Had some “best guess” costs been applied, things might have been different.

Mr. Drucker’s article is aimed at converting those businesses that use traditional accounting methods to incorporate these new measurements. When the critical true value of the roof system is recognized, we’ll invest in better roofs and take better care of them.

What “wears out” roofs?


Either long term exposure to the elements (sun, water, freeze-thaw) or shorter-term exposure to damaging air pollutants and chemicals.

Structural Movement…

Such as building settlement or expansion/contraction not accommodated by the roofing system.

Biological Growth…

Such as vegetation in areas of standing water or algae.

Not Fixing Problems Promptly…

These can add up to a much shorter roof life-e.g., if a small problem is not repaired, then a large amount of insulation can be damaged.

Forgetting About Maintenance…

This is perhaps the single biggest cause of premature roof failure.

Change in the Use of the Building…

e.g., an increase in the interior relative humidity of a building can cause severe condensation problems within the roofing system.

BOTTOM LINE: Whether your roof is currently in need of replacement or simply being properly cared for, do not make light of the decision in selecting the type of system, the installer and the service provider for ongoing care to address continual decay as it will not only help prevent premature failure, but sudden catastrophe as well.

Categories: NIR Blog


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