New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Insider Guide



The Problem: Roof Roadblock

Roof before solar. We work with a lot of very old building stock, and making sure the roof is in really good condition before installing the solar panels for a 25-year system is crucial. We do a thorough analysis of the roof, look at existing warranties, the manufacturer and the certified contractors. Sometimes you run into a roof that’s midway through its life, and that becomes a big challenge for boards that want to install solar right now, with the Climate Mobilization Act starting to kick into gear.


Extending the warranty. Historically, most solar installers take a look at the roof and say, “Call us in 10 years after you’ve replaced the roof.” But as the climate changes and the city’s climate goals continue to get more strict, everyone needs solar now. And so we’ve formed a partnership with Fortis, a company that provides a guaranteed roof performance program. They look at a roof, see what condition it is currently in, and then do enough repairs to actually extend the roof warranty another 20, 25 years and make the solar system work at a cost that’s more reasonable for co-ops and condos. So you’re looking at maybe $3 to $5 per square foot worth of repairs to extend that roof warranty, as opposed to $15 or more per square foot for adding a layer of waterproofing. If you have to fully rip up and replace the roof, it could be upward of $30 per square foot.


Peace of mind. Think of Fortis as a hybrid of a bank, a law firm, an insurance company and a contractor. They perform a roof risk assessment, use roofing partners to work on the roof, and then take over the roof warranty and put their own in place. Since they’re backing the work, they have to do a very, very thorough analysis. They don’t just look at a roof and say, “Ah, this is good for another 25 years.” They coordinate everything and make it legal and make the building owner feel very safe about this extension of the roof warranty. It seems like a new concept, but if it’s done in the right way, it can make a big difference.

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