Over the last month there we’ve had typical British summer-time weather – lots of sudden rainfall and wind amongst a few moments of sunshine. These turbulent weather conditions had those in property management over-run with phone calls; leaking water from the roof, blocked and bursting drains, and areas of flooding were everywhere. It’s not nice, but is a reminder that this is actually the best time of year to be thinking about any roof repairs needed ready to face the elements over the winter period, and to take advantage of careful planning and longer daylight hours.
However, roofs can be a pain to repair. Not only is it a hassle to have to carry out the work, but correctly diagnosing where the leak and problem is can be a massive task in itself. It can feel like you’re looking for a needle in a haystack, whilst trying to ensure sufficient funding for the escalating costs and difficult access arrangements. There is already a lot of information on the technical aspects of roof problems and what the issues are, but you really need to take a step back and absorb some bigger-perspective general advice on them as well.
So here are seven specific points to consider from years of experience with these issues:
1. Check How You Can Correctly, Cost-Effectively, and Safely Access the Roof to Repair it
Regardless of the issue, you will need to access the roof to assess the extent of the problem. It could be a straightforward tile-replacement job, but it could still require endless scaffold erecting at huge cost. Besides the cost, it is possible that you will encounter delays gaining consents when difficult access arrangements are required. You then need to make sure that the correct health and safety procedures are being adhered to. This would usually involve ensuring there are enough personnel on site for the job to be completed safely, and you might even look into acquiring special access equipment that may be needed on the roof to help with future access.
2. See if it’s a Condensation Rather Than a Rain-Leak Problem
If the water comes in when it’s freezing cold in winter rather than when it rains, then that’s a tell-tale sign that condensation is an issue. To resolve this, you need to look at better circulation, insulation, and temperature of air, both inside and outside the roof, to reduce this. In the worst-case scenario, you might need to re-lay a roof or install air vents. On the other hand, you might just need to open some windows and consider fitting mechanical extractor fans.
3. Watch Out for Flat Roof Areas
They’re a killer for having leaks at some point, and it can be difficult to pin-point their origin. You could have water coming in at one end, but being caused by a hole in the other end and travelling through the roof. Even when you do know the area, carrying out a temporary patch repair can have limited effectiveness. A seemingly minor leak in a flat roof may require a whole new section of new felt or other covering, or at least the edges and flashings being re-laid.
4. Gutters and Downpipes Can Cause Problems With Water Getting Away From the Roof
Any signs of dripping water, damp walls, damage to the bottom of the roof, and rotten roof fascias and soffits can be indicative of problems with your guttering. A quick clear or bracket re-fix could possibly resolve this. However, being realistic, it is probably only going to provide a temporary solution. Before long it may be worth replacing sections; this could be worthwhile in the long term, as it provides a more permanent solution, and also dramatically improves the appearance of your property.
5. Make Sure the Cost and Liability is Correctly Covered
Whoever carries out the works need to be correctly insured and accredited to provide the right advice and carry out the work required, ideally with a guarantee as well. With roof areas being so difficult to access yourself, it’s paramount that you trust the roofer, or have a specialist surveyor involved to check and monitor. Also, know who has to pay the eventual bill, which might be tenants indirectly through a service charge.
6. Know the Limits of Reactive Repairs
It’s going to be tempting to always go for the quick fix there-and-then, but be careful that it’s worthwhile. Know exactly what it entails, get the roofer to take photos and explain in plain English what they plan to do. It is often worth asking them to see if they think you would be wasting money if a longer-term solution will be needed soon anyway. However, sometimes it can be ok to go for a quick and easy solution if a better one longer term is planned to happen in the near future anyway.
7. Appreciate the Reality of Proactive Repairs
A major new re-fit or work such as re-surfacing or re-lining might sound like the best way, and also looks a million dollars, but make sure it makes sense for your wallet. There may be ways to change the specifications, or at least phase it over a period of time. If it is inevitable that major work will have to be undertaken, then make sure you get everything correctly completed by a specialist, including full specification and cover.
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