Q. I have always lived in an apartment in town but have just viewed a beautiful house in the countryside just outside London. It’s a period house and of course with that brings issues of aging etc. what concerns me most is the roof; I am fairly up to speed with most of the things I should be looking for otherwise, but I have no idea what to look for when it comes to checking out the roof or even looking after it long term if I decide to buy the property, can you help?
A. Period houses are stunning and full of natural charm and character but sometimes behind that beautiful exterior there can be a minefield of potential expensive issues. When it comes to roofs there are several problems that can occur but there are also precautions that can be put in place to keep them in good order. Fugal attack – this can be prevented by keeping roof timbers dry. Insect attack can rarely lead to failure and can be treated by treating the wood with preservatives. Blocked rainwater pipes and gutters is another common issue that can easily be prevented by routine maintenance. Felting and underlay needs to be weather resistant, anything else will be inadequate. Poor ventilation can cause condensation which may cause rot due to fungal growth in timber and corrosion in metals. The current building regulations require all domestic roofs to have a high level of insulation to prevent heat escaping and prevent condensation and therefore rot or decay. Failure of roof junctions (jointings) for instance flashings to chimneys and lean to roofs and valley problems is yet another issue that can flag up. Flat roofs generally have a much shorter life expectancy than pitched roofs and may need to be recovered or substantially repaired. In contrast pitched roofs typically last for 60-80 years, depending on the materials used. Roof coverings can become worn because of old age when the laminating or clay tiles may perish. Slipping slates and lack of under felt can also lead to failure of protection. If you are worried and are thinking of buying the house why not take along a roofer that is a member of NFRC. The National Federation of Roofing Contractors Limited is the UK’s largest roofing trade association, representing over 70% of the roofing industry by value. With a history spanning almost 120 years, NFRC has established itself as the voice of the roofing industry, constantly adapting to change and innovation to ensure its members are at the forefront. Of course when buying a period property I would always recommend doing a full structural survey on the property before you agree to buy it so this would absolutely flag up any impending issues and dispel any worries or fears you may have.