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So you’ve got your eye on a particular property and you are looking to buy. Have you checked it out properly? Have you gotten a full HomeBuyers Report or Building Condition Survey? No? Why not!

One of the biggest issues with purchasing a property when you haven’t had a full survey conducted is that if there are problems with the roof of the property, you won’t likely notice them until it is too late. A professional chartered surveyor will be able to identify potential problems by looking at both the exterior and interior of the property and should be able to discern as to whether or not further investigation is needed, with regards to the condition of the roof.

Replacing or repairing a roof can be expensive. More historic roofing styles – such as thatch roof – don’t even bear thinking about when you consider the costs of replacement. So why take the risk? Take a look at just a few common issues that can occur in roofs, and why it is important that they are identified and repaired as soon as possible.

Common Issues

There are two main categories of roofing style; the pitched roof and the flat roof. Each style will have its own problems and it is important that you are able to at least recognise those problems, but first we’ll take a look at common issues found in both styles of roof.

1. Gutter Lining
Clogged gutters are a danger to all types of roofing, as the build-up of dirt and debris can cause rainwater to leak through the roof and into the building. Stagnant water present in clogged gutters can also cause rapid growth of mould, weed and grass in the gutter, which only perpetuates the problem. In many cases, the gutter lining – and not the gutter itself – is causing the problem, so professional replacement of the lining is often what is needed.

2. Improper Insulation
While this is less to do with the actual roof itself and more to do with the loft insulation, improper insulation or no insulation at all can seriously affect both the cost of your heating bills and the condition of your roof in the long-term. A lack of proper insulation means that the loft space is more vulnerable to condensation, damp and mould, weakening the roof joists and potentially causing the roof to collapse if left untreated.

According to Haringey, up to 25% of heat loss in an uninsulated home is solely through the roof, so having adequate insulation here is essential. There are a number of different types of insulation available; some of which can be fitted yourself and some of which require assistance from a professional. Get in touch with an expert for advice on the best type of roofing insulation recommended for your home.

Common Issues in Flat Roofs

1. Poor Installation Practices
While it is possible to install DIY flat roof coverings, you are opening yourself up to more potential problems if you don’t know what you are doing. Whether it is a felt roof covering, of asphalt or sheet metal, getting it installed by a professional fitter is essential.

2. Roof is ‘Ponding’
Flat roofs should not normally be ‘flat’ and should have a gradient of around 10°. If this is not accurate, or the gradient isn’t steep enough, rainwater can settle on the surface of the roof instead of running off as it should, and this is where ‘ponding’ occurs. The stagnant water promotes the growth of mould and moss and over time, will seep through the roof, destroying it as time goes on. You will need to check as to whether or not the flat roof has the minimum required gradient, and this can be done with the assistance of a surveyor.

3. People Walking on them
During the hotter months, flat roofs can become impromptu balconies. The roof has not normally been built to withstand a weight load of one (or several) people walking along it and can weaken the roof. Reinforcing the supporting rafters might be the way to go, otherwise, you might just need to stop using the roof as a terrace, as it is not built for that purpose.

4. Blistering
A defect that affects felt roofs, where moisture becomes trapped between poorly bonded layers of felt. The water evaporates into gas over time and forces the layer of felt up and above to form a blister. This issue may have come about as a result of poor installation, so it is important that a registered installer is able to lay down your felt roof and properly protect it in order to prevent this from happening.

Common Issues in Pitched Roofs

1. Moss Build-up
If moss on the roof is left untouched it can quickly build up and cause surface water to back up. Eventually the surface water will penetrate through the roof covering, leading to roof replacements. In more extreme cases moss on the roof can also cause frost damage. Checking your roof every few years and clearing any moss build-up away will easily solve this problem.

2. ‘Roof Spread’
During the 1970s and 1980s, it was common practice for dilapidated slate roofs to be replaced with interlocking concrete tiles. Naturally, these concrete tiles were far heavier than their slate counterparts, so, that added pressure on top of the rafters would cause them to bend and in some cases break. This is referred to as ‘roof spread’ by surveyors and will need additional supports to be installed in order to handle the extra weight, otherwise, more damage could occur over time.

3. Nail Rot/Nail Sickness
Steel nails were often used to secure slate coverings for older roofs, and these can be susceptible to corrosion. As the nails are corroded over time, the slate begins to slip. According to Homebuilding, newer copper or aluminium alloy nails can be used to re-fix the slate and prevent it from slipping again.

4. Damage from Frost
Certain types of clay are more porous than others and as a result are more likely to absorb moisture from rainfall and condensation. In instances where harsh temperature changes are likely to occur, the moisture within these tiles can expand and break the tile or break it away from the roof. Eventually this leaves the roofs underside exposed to the elements. Frost damage is not always easy to spot, which is why you should check your roof every 3-5 years according to Quora, to ensure that everything is working as it should be.

Article provided by Sara Bryant, an independent content writer working alongside a selection of
companies including Peter Barry Surveyors, who were consulted over this post.