Condition, cost and compliance – flat-roof asset management

Experts at Langley Waterproofing Systems offer advice on maintaining out-of-sight flat roofs to ensure hospitals can operate effectively

A roof condition survey is vital to uncovering any issues before they cause costly damage

When it comes to asset management, a roof is a significant asset of a healthcare estate and potentially runs the risk of costly repairs and maintenance, or in a worst-case scenario, replacement. Here, Tim Gardner, regional manager at Langley Waterproofing Systems, explains why a roof condition survey is essential in understanding the roof estate and how it can help to pro-actively manage an ‘out-of-sight’ asset cost effectively

For hospitals and healthcare facilities, the focus will always be creating an environment that is fit for purpose, safe, effective, and efficient for patients, staff and visitors.

For facilities managers and those responsible for the buildings to ensure this is achieved, they must fully understand the condition of all the assets the organisation owns and plan the management of each one.

And, for any building, and particularly for healthcare estates that are publicly funded, an unexpected cost for repair work can cause significant strain.

However, if the flat roof is approached re-actively once an issue presents itself, it can cause disruption to the operation of the building and potential risks to the health and safety of patients and staff. It also often results in significant costs to fix the issue and any damage caused.

Condition

The development of an asset management plan should start with a roof condition survey.

This will entail grading each roof area, from immediate action needed, to the estimated lifespan in years, if maintained appropriately.

It will also detail the roofing systems that have been used, their current condition, and any repairs already made.

Facilities managers and those responsible for buildings must fully understand the condition of all the assets the organisation owns and plan the management of each one

From the data gained, a long-term maintenance programme as part of an asset management plan can be developed, as well as a refurbishment specification if immediate work is necessary.

The flat roof specialist carrying out the roof survey can also store the data on behalf of the estate manager, to assist with tracking the estate’s lifecycle, covering up to 30 years.

Using this plan to manage the roof estate as an asset has several key benefits for an organisation.

The roof asset management plan will help to ensure that potential issues are identified and rectified before they begin to undermine the structure of the roof and impact other areas of the building. Also, serious issues can be avoided by addressing relatively-minor defects in a timely manner. This might be as simple as repairing accidental damage to the roof surface or clearing blocked rainwater outlets or gutters that can cause water to back up into the roof system.

A comprehensive flat roof asset management plan will provide long-term cost certainty and help to inform future maintenance programmes

Cost certainty

Multiple reactive fixes can prove expensive due to the cumulative cost of repeated visits by a roofing contractor to address the problem. There is also the risk that by the time the issue has been identified it has caused further damage, not only to the flat roof system, but also to interior areas of the building.

Alternatively, a high-quality comprehensive flat roof asset management plan, based on detailed information will provide a costed, long-term maintenance programme as this provides a clear view of what work is needed and when. The costs can therefore be factored into budgetary planning.

Compliance

The roof condition survey and annual inspections carried out as part of the maintenance programme will also help ensure compliance with Health and Safety and Building Regulations.

Those responsible for the building have a duty of care to ensure the safety of people accessing the roof to carry out routine maintenance and/or to service rooftop equipment. The survey and inspections will include evaluating and monitoring the condition of walkways, guardrails and access systems, as well as identifying potential hazards such as fragile roof areas.

Optimum utilisation of physical assets is an integral part of efficient healthcare facilities management

In addition, the roof condition survey should include a full assessment of fire safety compliance in line with Approved Document B of the Building Regulations for each area of the roof and identify potential risk areas.

To maximise the safety of the building it is recommended that all flat roof systems meet Broof(t4), the highest fire classification under the European standard system. A solution with this classification should be specified if refurbishment works are needed.

Optimum utilisation of physical assets is an integral part of efficient healthcare facilities management.

And managing the roof estate in the same way as any other asset can support facilities in delivering a high level of care by minimising disruption and ensuring that the buildings are safe and fit for purpose.

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