The met office has issued a weather warning for high winds across the UK today with inland gusts reaching a predicted 65mph in places.
Strong winds can cause damage to your property in a number of ways, blowing tiles off the roof, falling trees damaging roofs and in extreme cases an up-rooted tree can cause damage with it roots effecting your foundations and drains.
Once the wind has died down have a good look around your property for signs of damage especially the roof area, also check inside your loft space for any tell tell signs of movement or daylight. If you suspect there is any damage to the roof get a quote for repairing it from a reputable builder who will carry out a full risk assessment before climbing onto your roof as roofs can be dangerous places especially on windy days!
Up to 12 inches of snow has fallen over the last few days over the UK and more is predicted for the upcoming Easter weekend. The increased load weight of a large snow fall on the roof of your property can cause damage, here are some hints and tips to help avoid “snow damage”
Replace and repair any slipped or missing slates or tiles as soon as possible- water which is allowed to penetrate the roof structure may freeze and move other tiles.
Keep your gutters clear- when the melting snow freezes in your blocked gutters it increases the weight load on the overall roof and can also split or damage your guttering.
Keep your drains clear – once the thaw begins, moss and other debris which has accumulated over the year could block your gullies and cause localised flooding.
Keep an eye on the inside of you roof – during daylight hours check your loft/attic for any tell-tell signs of light entering from between slipped slates or tiles and any cracks in the timbers.
And finally, be careful, roofs are dangerous places and you should only let a trained person who has carried out a full risk assessment on to your roof, always call a professional to quote for any roof works.
The recent snow often highlights roof and gutter issues, the additional weight placed on roofs and gutters can often be the enough to make already defective roofs and gutters show more visible defects. Wet snow puts a great additional load on to roofs and can also cause serious structural defects to roofs that have been badly built or suffered poor repairs and alterations. For most home owners it is more likely to be simple issues like slipped slates or leaking gutters. The important thing is to take the time after the snow has melted to inspect your roof this can be done in the loft space checking for leaks daylight or any staining or cracked, spilt or damaged structure. Take the time to inspect your roof externally look for slipped slates or tiles sagging gutters lose flashings or other lead work. Taking a positive if you do have a minor defect with your guttering or roof your roofer or builder will be able to inspect the roof structure while they carry out any minor repairs. With roof or gutter repairs it is always important that they are attended to quickly to avoid any further damage or extra unnecessary expense. Most property owners rarely check their roof structures particularly with period properties they can suffer from both dry and wet rot. Wet rot is of course a damaging and costly issue but dry rot is far more serious, in roof voids it can become established without being noticed. The danger of dry rot is its ability to spread through a property and cause potentially tens of thousands of pounds of damage. It can spread to other structural timber like floor joists that are both expensive and invasive to repair and replace. So it is important that roof leaks are attended to quickly and thoroughly and the area is checked and any wet or dry rot is removed and the area treated with a suitable timber treatment.
Most property owners need various building refurbishments and repairs doing from time to time. These range from simple roof repairs through to electrical and building works. Many homeowners and in fact some building contractors are either unsure or unaware that even some repairs will trigger the need to inform the local authority building control department. This is usually done through a building regulations building notice. These vary in costs dependant on the value of the works being carried out, the building inspector will usually be required to conduct a site visit at various stages throughout the building works to check each element of the works as items are covered in. They will want to see drainage, insulation footings details and structural elements that fall under part “A” of the UK building regulations. Good building contractors will take care of managing the building notice as part of their service but ultimately the responsibility lies with the property owner. So make sure you check with your local building control department if your works will require a building regulations building notice application. Some works may not require a building regulations application when you start the works but a change to the works if an unforeseen issue arises can trigger the requirement for an application. Very often this is an issue under part “L”, of the UK building regulations. This is because if more than 25% of any external surface for examples roofs, floors or walls are being repaired it will require a building notice and site inspections.
Many property owners either decide to upgrade their existing homes or decide to buy one that requires building work to save costs or give themselves a project. So where is the best place to start? Well it is important to consider the whole project and what you are looking to achieve from your renovation project. We have often be asked to add alarm systems, T.V. points or outside taps and other items once the plastering has been complete which has added costs, rework and potentially affected the final finish. So the first thing to do is work on your design this does not always mean a full set of architects drawings, although even on small projects they are a good idea if the budget will allow it. So get some drawings or do some sketches, it is a good idea to do small sketches of how you want certain details to finish to help your builder get you just what you want. Along with your drawings you need a list of what you want to do and what materials you want to use. This is called a schedule of works although on bigger projects the projects manager or contracts administrator will use a variety of documents that are cross referenced to form the project documentation and contract documents. The more work effort and time you put into this the easier it will be for your builder to provide a fixed price contract for all the works. This is important as it is the only way to really obtain like for like quotations that allow you to choose your building contractor. When selecting a building contractor it is important to see one of the projects they are currently undertaking and talk to some of their previous customers. Different building contractors tend to be better at some types of work than others simply because of their experience and their employees skills and experience. So ask contractors about similar projects they have undertaken and do a little research so you can ask them a few technical questions about building regulations and how to finish various robust details of the build. Your contractor should be able talk not only with authority about building regulations but also with a passion for your project. Those contractors who are genuinely passionate about their work will leave you with a better finished project than those who just see it as another job.
There are various types of roof structures and they are repaired or designed with a combination of timber and steel trusses or roof members. The two main types of roof structures are trussed roofs which are usual on more modern properties usually properties constructed from the late 1970’s to modern day. The second type is often referred to as being stick built, this is when individual timbers or steels are used to form the roof structure. Roof trusses are usually designed and constructed off site and then delivered as readymade trusses and placed on the wall plate and lined up and braced together on site to form the roof structure. With trussed roofs the skill and experience required to fit these correctly is at a lower level than that required for stick built roof structures. Often when more complex roofs are designed and constructed on sites they usually combine individual or linked steel beams as well as individual timbers usually in the form of rafters. The two main timbers used when constructing stick built roofs are the purlins and rafters. Purlins are normally large timbers or steel beams used to reduce the span that the rafters cover by supporting them at the half way point or breaking the span into even thirds. Many home extension roofs use ridge beams this allows for warm or open roof design and is used to eliminate the potential for roof spread. Roof spread is when the loads from the weight of the roof puts too much pressure on the wall plates and can cause the walls to be pushed out. This is a very serious structural problem and can be both challenging and expensive to remedy. One of the more unusual and difficult structural roof steels is a cranked beam. These are some time used to transfer roof loads down from the roof and still allow for a vaulted ceiling or one with sarking detail, or partially sloped ceilings. Cranked steel beams need to be both perfect in length in both directions from the crank angle and the angle must be degree perfect to allow the roof loads and the roof plan to be constructed with the structural integrity as designed. So you will require a competent and experienced roofing and building contractor to make sure these are installed correctly.
The property market may have been in the doldrums for the last couple of years with the number of new build properties and transaction volumes languishing at historic lows but many potential buyers are still out there. Many have become feed up of waiting for signs of a housing market recovery and with no signs of prices falling are choosing 2013 as the year they step on the property ladder. So are there still bargain properties to be had? Well the answer is yes but as with most bargains there is usually a catch, and in the case of cheap properties it is usually either the area is less desirable not much can be done about this. Or the property requires some form of a renovation, repair or improvement project it is important that you get an idea of what sort of costs are involved in these works prior to you buying the property. The other issue is that especially in the current climate mortgage companies are becoming far pickier about the type of remedial repairs that will affect a property’s mortgagibility. So ideally get a good local building contractor around before you buy to give you some indication of the costs that will be incurred in bringing the property back up to standard. They also have the experience to know where to look and what problems are associated with that type of property. For instance a good local builder will know that certain streets suffer from poor foundations or issues with the concrete floor slabs. This costs nothing and could save you thousands of pounds so take the time to check your bargain property has not got expensive building works that you may have missed.
Many slate roofs are now coming to the end of their natural life as they are usual found on period terrace properties and late 1800’s and early 1900’s detached and semi-detached houses. You then have a choice of using the original slates or replacement slates. You could also chose a composite slate replacement that will be more cost effective but will substantially alter the appearance of your properties roof and overall appearance. The most important consideration is that you do not increase the loadings or weight that is transferred onto the roof timbers and walls. Concrete pan tiles are some time used and these can often over load the roof structure leading to issues and potentially expensive remedial structural repairs. The other consideration is the finishing details like lead work, guttering, and decorative timber works like facias and finales. When roofs are replaced the slates are removed and cleaned checked and set aside to be reused. Then the condition of the rafter’s purlins and other roof timbers should be checked and treated with an appropriate timber preserve and anti fungicide. Then the rafters are covered with a breathable felt membrane before the new roofing batons are fixed and the slates are relayed with the new lead finishing’s. The lead finishing is usually at roof junctions like where the roof meets chimneys or other elevation or party walls. These lead finishing’s should be carried out in accordance with the lead sheet association guidelines.