Commercial Roof Surveys and Inspections

Do I Need a Commercial Roof Inspection or Survey?


While the terms ‘Commercial Roof Survey’ and ‘Commercial Roof Inspection’ tend to be interchangeable, there is a slight difference the two types of commercial roof assessments.

Companies call West Roofing Systems every day to have their roof inspected, it’s our job to help our customers decide if they really do need a roof inspection or if what they need is a roof survey. If 5 customers call to have their roof inspected, usually about 4 of those times, what the customer actually needs is a roof survey.

That’s why our experts wrote this article to explain the differences between roof inspections and roof surveys along with what a roof survey entails and what you can expect during and after the survey.

A commercial roof survey is performed by a roofing professional before a roofing project such as a repair or replacement. A commercial roof inspection is conducted by a property inspector for instance of real estate transactions or insurance evaluations.


What is a Commercial Roof Inspection?

A property inspector usually performs a commercial roof inspection. These assessments are performed to examine the condition of the facility and that everything is up to building codes before a real estate purchase, a lease agreement is signed, if there is a legal issue or if the owner is getting the building insured. In the case of a property inspector, the entire facility is being inspected which includes the roof.


These inspections are usually brief and mostly include a visual inspection. They collect information such as:

  • Fire Safety Inspections
  • Lead-Based Paint Inspections
  • Wood-Destroying Organism Inspections
  • Phase I Environmental Site Assessments
  • Asbestos Inspections
  • Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) Assessments
  • Radon Inspections
  • Roof condition and remaining useful life
  • Building envelope


What is a Commercial Roof Survey?

Commercial Roof Inspection or SurveyA commercial roof survey is usually performed by a roofing contractor or other roofing professional. These assessments are conducted to examine the condition and quality of the roof membrane, insulation and original structure before a roofing project.

These surveys are in depth, and the contractor will perform not only a visual inspection but they will take core samples and facility measurements as well. They collect information such as:

  • Deck, Insulation, Membrane Condition
  • Base Flashing Condition
  • Metal Edge Condition
  • Wall Coping Condition
  • Drains, Gutter Condition
  • Wall Surfaces Condition
  • Roof Slope
  • Drainage Method and Standing Water
  • If Additional Drains/Gutters Needed


After a survey is completed, the contractor will send a report that includes technical specifications conditions observations and conclusions with recommendations. A survey report should be a professional, polished document that is sent after the survey. Be wary of a contractor that handwrites a survey report in their car.

In a survey report, you should expect photos of the facility roof, a narrative of what the condition of the facility roof is in the opinion of the contractor and a blueprint or CAD drawing with technical specifications of your roof with any accessories (HVAC, vents, etc.).



Infrared Moisture Survey

During a commercial roof survey, your contractor will more than likely perform an infrared moisture survey to measure the quality of the insulation. An Infrared Moisture Survey is a terrific way to visually see the quality of the insulation across a wide area.

When the temperature drops in the evening, your contractor will take photos of your roof with an infrared camera. These photos will tell visually where the insulation is wet under the membrane. By using these photos, your contractor knows where they need to replace the underlying insulation.



When to Schedule a Roof Survey

Commercial Roof Inspection or Survey

Commercial Roof Survey

More often, a full roof survey will be conducted before a roof project. You may call multiple roofing contractors to quote a project; they will each perform their surveys to create their project quote.

When you are ready to repair or replace your commercial roof, line up at least three contractors to come to your facility on different days to survey your roof. The earlier in spring, the better, you want to line up your quote and schedule your project before the roofing season starts to be first on the contractor’s list.


Free Download: Contractor Quote Checklist



What to Do After a Roof Survey

After you have received your roof survey reports, it’s time to collect project proposals. Since you have multiple roof survey reports, you have a few different references to see what type of work needs to be done on your facility. Don’t be afraid to ask your contractors to explain or elaborate on what they have in their reports.

We suggest that you take the scope of work into your own hands.

By using your survey reports, create a scope of what that outlines what you want to be done on your facility. This scope should include the type of work you want to be done (repair, restore, replace), the type of roofing material you want (SPF, Single-ply, etc.), how many square feet you want worked on, and more specifications. It may take some research, but it’s the best way to get accurate proposals that you can easily compare.

Once you have your proposals, you will have an apples-to-apples comparison to choose the best contractor to fit your needs.

Read More: How to Compare Commercial Roofing Quotes

Although it would be just as easy for you to choose a different commercial roofing contractor in your area; choosing West Roofing Systems as turnkey roofing company will provide you with highly trained teams and award-winning service. Our services are flexible and diverse; we can recoat, repair or replace your facility’s roof so that it lasts decades.


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Author: Rufus West

Rufus West is a commercial roofing expert! You may see him on the West Roofing website and also on the West Roofing social media pages, giving fun facts and tips about the company and roofing industry.

Just like West Roofing System’s roof solutions, he isn’t bothered by water—it simply rolls off of his back!

  • Very informative blog! For businesses getting their roof of their facility inspected is a necessity rather that a luxury because in absence of it, damages and other issues may creep in and a damaged roof may lead to accidents causing injury to the employees and also seriously affect the reputation of the business.

  • New and nice blog for me. I used to be exploring on roofing materials and discovered Roof Coatings. With proper maintenance and regular inspection you may prolong your roof life more then twenty years.

  • I just got my first house, and I want to make sure that I take good care of my roof. I agree that you should check for moss and mold and make sure to clean it off as it can cause some serious damage. It would also be smart to get your roof professionally inspected every other year or so in order to catch problems early on.

  • Great article – getting professional inspections is important! Making sure the roof is properly inspected is important to the life of the roof. Well written!

  • Absolutely! All roofs need to be inspected! Keeping up on them rather than waiting for a big problem, as commercial roofs tend to have bigger issues arise over residential.

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