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Why Is It So Hard to Find a Good Roofing Contractor?

Why Is It So Hard to Find a Good Roofing Contractor?

As with any trade, not all roofing contractors are equal. Some are expert and conscientious, and will offer an excellent service. Some are well-meaning, but lack the experience to meet all the challenges fully. And some, of course, are out-and-out cowboys. But how can you sort the good from the bad?

Reputations Are Earned

The chances are a top-class, reliable roofing firm will have a substantial history of great work, or else an experienced roofer may have just started their own business. Whether as a firm or an individual, make sure you check the experience of the roofing contractor you hire.

The best recommendations come personally from someone you trust, but you can also judge a contractor’s reputation by membership of trade schemes like Trusted Traders or Checkatrade.com. These schemes only list companies whose standards they’re satisfied are high.

There are many different types of roof, from flat to pitched, and numerous materials. Roofing contractors often specialise, so it’s vital to make sure the contractor you choose has a solid record of the type of work you need doing.

Estimates and Guarantees

You can tell a good deal about a roofing contractor’s quality by the estimates they offer, and more by asking the right questions. Are they offering a quote or an estimate? It’s not always possible to give an exact quote for a roofing job, since extra damage may emerge once the work has begun. A reputable contractor will clarify where you stand with any figure they give you.

Make sure you get any quote or estimate in writing, and that payment will be fully receipted. If a contractor deals “cash in hand, nothing written down”, you’re highly unlikely to get even adequate results. You also won’t have any come-back if there are problems with the work later.

Speaking of which, any contractor that doesn’t offer a written guarantee of at least ten years, and preferably fifteen as we do, should be avoided. Also, establish in advance exactly what the payment schedule will be. You may need to pay a deposit, for instance, but you should on no account settle the full amount before the work is finished to your satisfaction.

Don’t be afraid to ask the contractor for detailed plans, including what materials they’re proposing to use. Remember that the cheapest quote isn’t always the best — make sure they’re not cutting corners.

Feel free to get in touch with us to discuss your roofing needs. And other companies, too — like any quality contractor, we’ve no reason to worry about that.

 

 

 

 

Preparing Your Roof for Winter

Preparing Your Roof for Winter

 

 

 

 

Because we spend less time outside in the winter, we tend not to pay as much attention to the roof as in summer. But winter is exactly when it’s most important that the roof is doing its job of protecting us to its full capacity.

Here are a few crucial things to look out for…

Check Your Roofline

Your fascias, soffits, bargeboards and the rest aren’t just there to make your roofline look good. They support the tiling, as well as sealing gaps that water could get into and cause damp in the rafters. Rooflines made of uPVC are less likely to have problems than timber ones, but they’re not indestructible.

Before winter really sets in, it’s a good idea to walk around your house, ideally with a good pair of binoculars, and check your roofline visually for any sign of rot or damage

Check Your Roof

If you’re checking your roofline with binoculars, you can also do a circuit at a greater distance and examine the tiles themselves. Alternatively, you could climb up to look, if you have a long ladder and a head for heights — but, to be safe, make sure you do this in good conditions. If you have cracked or missing tiles, or signs of moss or mould growing, your roof may soon start leaking.

Alternatively, you could check from inside. Go into your loft during the day and switch all lighting off. If you see any pinpricks of light coming through, you may have a problem.

Check Your Guttering

Your gutters and downpipes are the elements of your roof most likely to cause problems in winter. They can become clogged up with leaves, dirt, birds’ nests and other debris, and if these aren’t cleared, the rainwater they should be channelling off will pool on the roof and start finding ways through.

Besides clearing out your gutters and downpipes, it’s also vital to check that they aren’t leaking or coming away from the wall. A straightforward visual inspection will normally be enough to make sure they’re properly attached, while the best way to check for leaks (unfortunately) is to go out in heavy rain. If there are any leaks, you’ll be able to see the rainwater coming through.

Visual inspection and clearing the gutters are things you may be able to do yourself. If you’re not confident with heights, though, or if you find anything wrong, then it’s time to call in the professionals. Give us a call if you have any problems with your roof.

Preventative Maintenance For Roofing

Preventative Maintenance For Roofing

Whether you have a domestic or commercial property, it’s essential that your roof remains reliable in keeping out cold, rain and wind. Unfortunately, this is all too often approached reactively — you get problems fixed as emergencies when they occur. It’s not only cheaper and less disruptive to be proactive about your roof, it’s also a good deal less hassle.

 

What Is Preventative Maintenance?

Problems with your roof can hit you suddenly, meaning an expensive emergency call-out to fix a leak or worse, but the signs will have been visible for some time to a professional eye. Regular professional inspections enable your contractor to identify problems long before they become critical and plan maintenance with you.

A visual inspection of your roof by an expert eye will be able to pick out damaged tiles or torn felt, dangerous moss and mould growth, pooling water and damage or blockage in your drainage system. Some jobs, like cleaning out your guttering, can be done at the same time as the inspection, while non-emergency issues can be scheduled for repair.

What Are the Advantages of Preventative Maintenance?

It may seem that paying for regular inspection and maintenance is merely a waste of money. Perhaps finances are tight, and you don’t want the disruption of work being done on your roof when it may not be essential. Isn’t it better to leave maintenance for your roof till it’s really needed?

Not at all. In fact, it’s unlikely there’ll be nothing required since the chances are that your guttering will need to be cleaned out at the very least. In any case, though, there are many advantages for regular preventative maintenance:

  • If faults are spotted early, repairing them is often a minor job, whereas if they’re left till they become serious, you may be looking at major repairs.
  • Because faults will normally be identified before they become urgent, you can plan the repairs ahead. This not only means that you can schedule the work for a time when it will cause minimal disruption, but also that you can budget for it.
  • Careful, planned maintenance will not only make your roof look better in the short term, but also ensure that it lasts for its full natural life before needing to be replaced.
  • Peace of mind — you can forget about your roof, knowing it’s being looked after by professionals.

If you need planned preventative maintenance by professionals for the roof of your building, feel free to contact our local roofers to discuss your needs.

Leave It To The Professionals for UPVC and Roofing

Leave It To The Professionals for UPVC and Roofing

Your roof needs close attention, from clearing out the guttering to repairing holes and cracks. It may seem rather expensive, and perhaps you’re tempted to do it yourself rather than pay for professionals. After all, what could possibly go wrong?

 

The answer, unfortunately, is plenty.

 

Roofing Jobs

The work your roof needs divides into repairing particular faults to maintenance that needs to be kept up on a regular basis. Repairs include replacing or recementing tiles, removal or replacement of lead work, repointing, removal of moss and replacement of fascias and soffits. These are one-offs, but they’re likely to be required on a frequent basis over the lifetime of your roof.

Maintenance jobs, on the other hand, should be undertaken at least a couple of times a year, in addition to the aftermath of any harsh weather, such as a storm. This includes clearing dirt and leaves out of your gutters and downpipes, enabling water to drain off as it needs to, and examining the roof for signs of holes or leaks.

 

Can I DIY?

There are some advantages to carrying out maintenance yourself — provided you’re equipped for it. The obvious advantage, besides saving money, is that you can react instantly after bad weather or if you suspect a problem, rather than having to make an appointment with a professional.

What you’ll require to clean out your gutters or inspect your roof close up are a good head for heights, a high-quality ladder and a full understanding of how to use it, and a knowledge of how to work at height. Someone inexperienced working on their guttering, for instance, not only puts themselves at risk of falling, but may also injure someone below if they’ve failed to secure their tools properly.

 

Professional Jobs

While the routine maintenance may be possible for an expert DIYer, many roofing jobs are best left to the professionals. Tiling, pointing, repairing felt roofs and replacing uPVC fascias and soffits aren’t the same as putting up shelves — professionals go through considerable training before they’re qualified to do these jobs. Perhaps you’d manage it adequately, but would you really want to risk a job that may or may not be “adequate”?

In fact, even the routine maintenance might be better left to professionals, who have the experience to spot signs of damage that an amateur could easily miss.

Your roof is your main line of defence against the elements. Get in touch with us to see how we can give it the maintenance it deserves.

 

How to Figure Out What’s Making Your Roof Leak

How to Figure Out What’s Making Your Roof Leak

Roof leaks can come in many different sizes. If you have a large hole in your roof that lets water pour in, you don’t need much effort to identify it, but most leaks are far less obvious. Nevertheless, it’s important to track them down, since the longer they’re left unrepaired, the more damage they’re doing to your home.

Causes of Roof Leaks

Leaks can be caused storm damage to your roof, but often there isn’t such an obvious cause. Roofing materials don’t last for ever, and they can simply decay. Alternatively, work on your roof such as adding dormers can cause damage if it’s sloppily done, or removing fixtures such as TV aerials can leave small holes.

In general, the most vulnerable areas of your roof are the ridge, valleys, flashing and the tiles themselves. Problems can also be caused by the underlay rotting, if water manages to get underneath the tiles.

Signs of Roof Leaks

There are a number of signs to look out for that your roof may be leaking, though many of them could also have other causes. The main ones are:

  • Spots or marks on your ceiling, especially in the form of concentric rings.
  • Black stains around the chimney, which could indicate mildew or mould.
  • Paint peeling or wood rotting around skylights.
  • Roofing materials fallen into the garden or in the downpipe.
  • Visible damage to roof tiles or flashing.

Finding the Leak

If you suspect you have a leak, you still need to track it down. That’s not always easy, unless the damage to the roof is clearly visible, since the marks on your ceiling won’t necessarily be straight underneath the leak.

The best strategy is to examine your loft area. Stains there are likely to be closer to the leak, but you can find it most easily by looking for holes. To do this, go into the loft during full daylight and switch all lighting off. If you have skylights or dormers, try to cover these. If you can get the loft sufficiently dark, holes will be visible as points of light.

What to Do If You Have a Leak

The worst thing you can do with a roof leak is to ignore it. The roofing materials around the hole will degrade, and meanwhile the damp will be causing serious damage to the timber, the plaster and the whole structure of the building, what could have been a simple patch may turn into major repairs.

If you suspect you have a leak, you’re welcome to get in touch with us for an expert examination.

 

 

 

Slate, Tiles or Felt — What’s Best for my Roof?

Slate, Tiles or Felt — What’s Best for my Roof?

If you’re completely replacing your or undertaking a new build or extension, it’s important to decide what kind of roof you want. There’s a wide choice of roofing materials, but for most people the decision comes down to slate, tiles or felt. The decision’s going to be partly based on which you think looks best, but there are definite pros and cons to each.

Slate Roofing

Slate is the strongest of the common roofing materials, and a properly constructed slate roof will last far longer than any other type. It can also give your roof a touch of class.

The downside is that slate is the most expensive roofing material, as well as the most time consuming to fit, since each slate has to be individually nailed or clipped. A slate roof needs a pitch of 30 degrees, and the slates should be fitted to battens over an underlay.

If you’re willing to accept the cost and extra time, a slate roof is an excellent choice. At the same time, there are options for reducing the expense, though at some cost of quality, by using imported slate by aggregate imitation slate.

 

Tiled Roofing

A tiled roof is standard throughout most of the UK. There have traditionally been regional variations in colour and design, but today most varieties of tile are available anywhere.

Tiles are a good deal cheaper than slate and, though not quite as long lasting, can be very durable. A tiled roof is also easier to repair than a slate one, with individual tiles relatively simple to take out and replace.

There are various types of tile available, including clay and concrete, and the choice of which kind to use will depend partly on the pitch and strength of the roof.

 

Felt Roofing

Although it can be used on pitched roofs, felt is the best material for flat roofs. A flat roof can be used for a main structure, extension or out-building, and enables the roof to be put to practical use, such as garden or terrace. On the downside, it’s more vulnerable to pooling water, and extra provision has to be made for drainage.

Felt doesn’t last as long as slate or tiles. On the other hand, it’s considerably cheaper, and if it’s well laid, with three layers, it can be more durable than most people assume.

Help with Roofing

Whichever you go for, it’s as well to get professional advice before making a final decision. You’re very welcome to get in touch with us for a chat about your roof.

 

10 Cool Ideas to Make Use of Your Roof

10 Cool Ideas to Make Use of Your Roof

Most of us don’t really use our roofs. We value their protection, of course, even if we don’t always remember it till something goes wrong, but we tend just to waste that expanse on top of the house. Here are a few ways you might make use of it.

 

1. Roof Terrace

If you have a flat roof (or extremely good balance) you can do a number of things with it. One is to make a terrace to use as an elevated patio, where you can sit out, entertain or even have meals on fine days.

 

2. Roof Garden

Whether you have plants in pots and urns, or even unroll some turf, you can turn your roof into a haven of colours and fragrance. And the great thing is the slugs and snails can’t reach it.

 

3. Bird Oasis

If you set up bird feeders, tables and baths, the birds will flock to your roof. The best thing is they’ll be safe from neighbourhood cats — though perhaps not from your own.

 

4. Pergola

Perhaps one of the more outlandish ideas, but you could build a pergola on a flat roof, though it’s important to make sure the roof will take the weight.

 

5. Swimming Pool

Perhaps even more extravagant than a pergola, given the British climate, but a rooftop swimming pool could be great for fine summer days. Just make sure your roof isn’t overlooked.

 

6. Solar Panels

Fitting solar panels to your roof will mean you’re not taking as much electricity from the national grid. This has the dual benefits of saving money and reducing your carbon footprint.

 

7. Loft Insulation

And, speaking of reducing your energy consumption, effective loft insulation makes a huge difference. It isn’t expensive to install, and you can make the cost back within two years.

 

8. Loft Conversion

While we’re on the subject of lofts, that space under your roof is valuable too. If you need an extra bedroom, playroom or even a space for your model railway, a loft conversion is a cost-effective alternative to moving.

 

9. Skylights

If you do decide to use your loft for more than storing things you’ll never need, installing skylights in the roof can make it a far more pleasant place to spend time.

 

10. Dormer Windows

For a rather more traditional way of bringing light into an attic or converted loft, a dormer window or two will give your home an elegant feel. They also have the advantage that you can look out of them.

10 Signs It’s Time for a Gutter Replacement

10 Signs It’s Time for a Gutter Replacement

If the roof is your home’s main protector against the weather, the guttering is a crucial part of that defence, ensuring that all water is safely conveyed away. Any damage to the gutters or downpipes needs to be repaired at once, but eventually repair won’t be enough and the guttering will have to be replaced.

 

Signs to Look For

In most of the following cases, isolated damage can be repaired, but if the problem recurs frequently, it’s probably time to look at gutter replacement.

  1. Cracks in the guttering — If cracks are appearing in your gutters and pipes as fast as you can repair them, it’s a sign they’re past their use-by date. Rust spots can be an early sign on metal pipes, though this isn’t an issue if you’ve used UPVC.
  2. Gutters pulling away from the roof — If this is happening on a regular basis, the fascias may be rotting. This could mean you need both guttering and fascias
  3. Breaks in the seams — Gutters are made in segments that fit together, but if the seams are constantly pulling apart it’s time for a replacement.
  4. Sagging gutters — You can see from the ground if your gutters aren’t level, and this could result in the water not running off. It could also suggest that the gutter wasn’t designed for the amount of water it’s dealing with.
  5. Nails or screws on the ground — If you keep finding nails or screws that seem to have come from the guttering, this means it isn’t securely fixed.
  6. Water marks on the wall — Marks on the walls caused by water running down them suggests the water isn’t being routed down the pipes. This is easiest to make out in dry weather.
  7. Peeling paint — External paint will eventually peel with age, but if it’s happening extensively it could also be a sign of water leaking from the gutters.
  8. Rotting woodwork — Woodwork such as the surrounds for doors and windows will rot if it’s wet too much of the time. This again may well be caused by leaking guttering.
  9. Water pooling on the ground — Rain falls evenly, but if you get pools straight below the walls, it could be caused by faulty gutters.
  10. Damp or mildew in the foundations or basement — Again, this may be caused by leaking guttering, and can have serious implication for the building’s integrity.

Take Action

Any damage to your gutters or downpipes needs to be repaired or replaced as soon as possible. Contact us to discuss your needs.

Seasonal Roof Maintenance Tips

Seasonal Roof Maintenance Tips

A house isn’t much good if the roof doesn’t keep out the weather, so it’s vital to make sure your roof remains in good condition throughout the year. Each season has its challenges, but this time of year, with winter coming, is the most crucial. Here are a few thoughts about roofing maintenance.

What Can the Weather Do to Your Roof?

The most obvious weather attacks on your roof are severe storms, like last winter’s Desmond, which can blow tiles or slates off, leaving gaps where the rain can get in. Sometimes, though, even normal rain or hail can pick away at the roofing materials, or result in the growth of damaging moss.

Ice is another risk in the winter. Because water expands when it freezes, any water that seeps into the tiniest of cracks will gradually force the gap wider each time it turns to ice. And the bigger the swing between daytime and night-time temperatures, the more stress your roof will be under.

What Steps Can You Take?

  • Check your roof at least twice a year, and after any extreme weather. Ideally it should be done close up (remembering to take all precautions if you use a ladder) but, if you can get a good view from ground-level, a good pair of binoculars can reveal any damage.
  • Pay attention to both roof tiles and any flashing or mortar for signs of damage, as well as checking your fascias and soffits.
  • If you have moss growing on your roof, it will eventually damage the materials. It needs to be removed before you find yourself needing the roof replaced.
  • Check indoors for any sign of leaks, including damp on the walls or ceiling of the top floor. Also, check with the light off for any holes allowing daylight through.
  • Clear out your guttering regularly. This is especially important at the moment, when it will almost certainly have been clogged up with fallen leaves, but this needs to be done at least two or three times a year.

Professional or DIY

Unless you’re a trained roofer, though, it’s unwise to tackle replacement of tiles or repair of cracks yourself. These are expert jobs, and amateur attempts can do more harm than good.

If you need repairs, or would feel safer putting regular maintenance in the hands of professionals, contact us to discuss your needs.

 

It’s All About Soffits

It’s All About Soffits

It’s All About Soffits — What Are They and What Do They Do?

There are two important requirements for anything on the outside of your house: it has to be strong and secure, and it should look good. Getting your soffits right is essential for both.

What Are Soffits?

In a general sense, the word soffit can refer to the underside of any architectural element, from an arch to a chimney. For most practical purposes, though, it means the board that goes underneath the fascia, completing the building’s roofline or eaves.

The fascia and soffit, though different components, effectively make up a single system, protecting any gaps between the walls and roof and supporting the guttering. The fascia is a vertical board coming down from the roof overhang, while the soffit connects it to the siding and is usually screwed or nailed to the rafters.

Materials for Soffits

Soffits can be made of various substances, including:

  • Timber — Wooden structures usually add to the look of a building’s exterior, but even well-treated timber will eventually start to rot and decay, weakening the roofline both structurally and in weatherproofing.
  • Aluminium — Aluminium is a strong, resilient material that will stand up to both stress and weather. Its main drawback is that, unless you want a modernist look, metal soffits seem out of place on your house.
  • UPVC — UPVC is an extraordinarily flexible material. It has the strength of aluminium, but it can be painted to look like timber, giving your roofline the classiness of wood without the drawbacks.

Ventilation

It’s essential to have adequate ventilation through to the rafters in the eaves. This allows the timber to breathe, reducing the risk of dampness and rot.

Ventilation can be through either the fascia or the soffit. Both have their advocates, but the general consensus tends to prefer using soffits for ventilation. The better quality soffit boards come with the option of ventilation technology built in, to allow air to circulate without exposing the roof space to hostile weather.

Kerb Appeal

Even more than the fascia, soffit boards are very visible elements of your home’s exterior. This means that, while making them strong and secure is the primary consideration, you also want them to look good.

It’s especially important, of course, for your house to have kerb appeal if you’re selling it, but even if you’re planning to live there long term, you want an attractive building. UPVC is the best material for combining strength and looks.

If you think your soffits may not be doing their job, contact us to discuss the possibilities.