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Dollars vs Pennies: The Value of Preventative Maintenance

Roofs aren’t indestructible pieces of infrastructure. They may not need daily or even monthly attention, but putting them completely out of mind is a major mistake.

Roofs naturally break down. But with a little care and maintenance, it’s easy to extend their lifespan and extract a greater return on the investment. Preventative maintenance is the easiest way to do this: it enables a proactive rather than reactive approach and puts the capital control of the roof system into the owner’s hands.


A new roof for a 50,000 square foot building might cost $100,000. With absolutely no maintenance, the roof could be expected to last roughly 10 years, but could require replacement in as little as 8. With inflation of material and labor costs at 10-15% over that period, it would be reasonable to expect that it would cost nearly $150,000 to replace.

Let’s imagine that these costs are being played out across a portfolio of 10 identical roofs that are installed at the same time. That’s a total original investment of $1 million with a replacement cost of $1.5 million in 10 years.


A maintenance plan isn’t particularly expensive: it would be reasonable to expect a cost of 3-6¢ per square foot per year. With 10 roofs at 50,000 square feet, that amounts to $1,500 per roof per year, or $150,000 for 10 roofs over the course of a decade. That’s the equivalent of one roof replacement after 10 years.

That maintenance plan can help spot small deteriorations or perforations in the roof before they become major problems and fix them. The cumulative effect of these remedial efforts is impressive: they can easily add 3-5 years to the lifespan of each roof. That amounts to an additional 30-50 years of roof expectancy across the portfolio of 10 roofs.


If we maintain $150,000 as the cost of replacing a 10-year roof, then adding 50 years of extra roof life across the portfolio amounts to $750,000 in savings.

By that measure, an investment of $150,000 in a maintenance program delivers an impressive $600,000 in savings over that 10-year period.

This simple example provides a cutting illustration of the returns of a preventative maintenance plan: be proactive and take care of your infrastructure portfolio and your bottom line will thank you for it.