News

Home / Archive by category "News"
Environmentally Friendly Roofing Options

Environmentally Friendly Roofing Options

Environmentally Friendly Roofing Options

Most of us today are waking up to the need of being more environmentally friendly, whether that involves cutting down the waste we throw away or reducing our carbon footprint. This includes ensuring our homes are as eco-friendly as possible — especially the roof.

So what do you need to think about to make your roof as environmentally friendly as possible?

Recycling Roofing Material

One of the most important aspect of an eco-friendly roof is the issue of recycling. Can your roof be made from recycled materials, or can they be recycled once their use is at an end?

If you have a tile or slate roof, for example, these can be broken down and reconstituted when their lifespan has come to an end. This means you can get materials that have already been recycled, as well as knowing they can be recycled again when you’ve finished with them.

However, there are other recyclable roofing materials available — plastic, wood fibre and especially rubber. Liquid rubber is a highly effective roofing material, especially for flat roofs, which can both be made of recycled rubber and recycled after it has to be replaced.

The lifespan of Your Roof

It’s great if your roofing material can be recycled when it has to be replaced, but it’s even better if this isn’t going to be for many years. That’s where tiles and slates score heavily. These materials should last a long time before needing to be replaced — in the case of slate, at least a century.

Liquid rubber roofs, on the other hand, don’t last as long, but a well-constructed roof should be effective for at least twenty years, and perhaps longer. Combined with being easily recyclable (not to mention cheaper), this makes it an effective eco-friendly option.

Insulate Your Roof Efficiently

The likelihood is that one of the biggest elements in your carbon footprint is the energy you waste by heat that’s lost from your home. And, since this is also costing you money, it’s a no-brainer to stop it.

Your roof can be one of the biggest culprits. You can insulate it whatever roofing material you’ve used, but some materials make it easier than others. Perhaps the best of all is to have a green roof — besides looking great, it provides highly effective insulation.

You can go even further, though, in making your roof eco-friendly by installing solar panels, so the heat you use has no carbon cost. Combine this with a long-life, recyclable and well-insulated roof, and you can slash your carbon footprint — and save on bills.

Feel free to get in touch with us to find out more about environmentally friendly roofing options.

 

How a Sound Roof Can Save You Money and Help Save the Planet

How a Sound Roof Can Save You Money and Help Save the Planet

How a Sound Roof Can Save You Money — and Help Save the Planet

Most of us are worried about our energy bills. With so many energy companies competing for our business, we love to shop around, and there are numerous comparison sites to help us with that.

There’s a simpler way of saving money, though — reduce the amount of energy you need to use. Not only will this be good for your bank balance, it’ll also reduce your carbon footprint. And your roof is the key.

How Heat Escapes from Your Home

The heat you generate in your home, whether it comes from radiators or an open fire, is meant to heat up the rooms in the house. Unfortunately, the reality is that in most houses a large proportion of it escapes and is wasted.

There are many culprits for heat loss, including doors and windows, but the biggest can be your roof. This is, of course, because warm air rises. If it’s held in by the roof, it creates a circulation of warm air in the building. However, you can be sure the heat will find any way available to escape through the roof.

Preventing Heat Loss Through Your Roof

Some of the heat loss through the roof can be prevented by effective insulation, but that doesn’t solve the whole problem. Any roof gets a battering from the elements and can develop cracks or holes. Besides being routes for damp to get in, these also allow the heat out.

This makes it vital to check your roof on a regular basis for any damage. You should also look out for moss, which can damage the roof, and check chimneys and other structures piercing the roof to ensure their sealing is still intact.

Saving Money and the Planet

It’s been estimated that around 25% of the heat generated in an average house escapes. So, if you calculate how much of your energy bill is accounted for by your heating system, you can assume that you’re throwing away a quarter of that sum.

Ensuring that your roof is in good repair will go some way towards saving this lost money — but that’s not all. Many of us today are keenly aware of the need to reduce energy consumption and the production of greenhouse gasses for the sake of the environment, and making your roof more efficient will help with that, too.

Repairing your roof can seem a large outlay, but you’re likely to get that sum back (and more) in reduced energy bills. Why not get in touch with us to find out more?

 

Taking Care of Your Roof in Winter

Taking Care of Your Roof in Winter

Taking Care of Your Roof in Winter

 

Winter isn’t a comfortable time for your roof. It’s an unusual winter if we don’t have regular storms, and there’s likely to be frost, ice and maybe snow at various stages of the season. All these can damage your roof, so it’s vital to check regularly for any warning signs and get them repaired.

 

Cleaning Out Your Guttering

 

If you haven’t already cleaned your guttering in preparation for winter, it needs to be done as soon as possible. Gutters and downpipes can get clogged up at any time, but autumn is particularly bad, with falling leaves blowing about in the wind.

 

This can create a major problem if the water that’s meant to run off is held in the guttering or on the roof, especially if it then freezes. Not only can this damage the guttering, it may also create cracks in the roof that will allow moisture to get in and damage the roof timbers.

 

Check Your Roof Regularly

 

Winter is the time your roof is most likely to get damaged, so it’s essential to check it regularly. If you’re confident on ladders, you could climb up and observe at close quarters, or alternatively you could look through binoculars from ground level. The main things to watch out for are:

 

  • Cracked, curled or missing tiles.
  • Moss growing on the roof.
  • Peeling or damage to the flashing on your chimney.
  • Cracking or peeling to the sealant of vents or skylights.

 

You can also check from inside, where water damage can show up on the ceilings as dark spots or blistering paint. Also look for holes in your roof by going into the loft during the day with no lighting on, where they’ll show up as pricks of light.

 

Can Roofing Be Done in the Winter?

 

It’s both unnecessary and unadvisable to put off roofing work till it gets warmer. Certainly, if you’ve identified any of the problems above, it’s best to get them fixed as soon as possible.

 

When it comes to scheduled work, such as replacing a worn-out roof, there are pros and cons to having it done in winter. On the one hand, having the roof open to the elements may not be ideal in cold weather. On the other, you’re likely to get better prices in winter.

 

Simple jobs like cleaning the guttering can be done yourself, as long as you have experience in working at heights, but actual repairs should always be left to professionals. If you need advice about your roof in winter, or at any time, you’re very welcome to give us a call.

 

Why You Shouldn’t Put Off Fixing Holes in Your Roof

Why You Shouldn’t Put Off Fixing Holes in Your Roof

Your home wouldn’t be much of a home without the roof. You’d not only be exposed to the rain, wind and snow, but it would also be impossible to maintain a suitable temperature. Your roof has to be kept in good repair, so it can do its job properly. And that includes repairing any holes promptly.

What Causes Holes in Your Roof?

There are a number of factors that could cause small holes to develop in your roof, including:

  • an empty nail hole
  • broken seals around chimneys, skylights or other penetrations
  • rusting metal or rotting wood
  • a tree branch colliding with the roof in high winds
  • removal of a satellite dish leaving empty screw holes

Alternatively, holes can be created simply by the ongoing wear and tear of the elements, especially from repeated freezing and thawing.

How Can You Detect Holes in Your Roof?

It’s important to inspect your roof regularly for holes, especially when the weather has been cold or stormy. It isn’t practical for everyone to climb up onto the roof, though, and this should only be attempted if you really know what you’re doing.

Fortunately, there are other ways of detecting that there may be a hole. These include:

  • water dripping inside
  • damp patches on your walls or ceilings
  • pinpricks of light coming through the roof

You can keep an eye open for the first two at any time, but it’s useful to check periodically for light coming through. For this, go up into the loft or attic during daytime and switch off all lighting. You should then be able to see any light coming through.

What Could Happen if You Don’t Repair Your Roof?

It’s easy to assume that small holes are small problems and you can put off repairing them, but this is very unwise. The smallest hole will allow moisture to seep through, which can cause severe problems.

For one thing, if the moisture gets into the timbers of the roof frame, it can cause them to rot. Thus, what would have been a minor repair job could turn into something much more serious. In addition, damp can lead to mould and mildew growing, and these could be a health hazard, especially if anyone in the house suffers from asthma or has a compromised immune system.

It’s important to get holes in your roof repaired as soon as possible, but also as expertly as possible, since a botched job can make things much worse. If you need help with your roof, you’re very welcome to give us a call.

How Gale-Force Winds Affect Your Home

How Gale-Force Winds Affect Your Home

We normally associate gales and storms with the winter. This year, though, has been a reminder that storms can hit us even at the height of summer — and that means we need to be prepared year-round to protect our homes.

The Dangers of Storms

One of the primary roles of your house’s structure is to protect you from the weather, such as high winds, heavy rain or cold. The walls, foundations, doors and windows play their part in this, but the brunt of the assault is borne by the roof, since it’s more exposed than the rest.

A storm can pose a number of dangers to your roof. High winds or heavy rain can damage individual slates or tiles, leaving them likely to let in water. Your gutters and downpipes can also be damaged by the wind, or else get clogged by debris being blown into them.

Checking Your Roof

If your home has been battered by a storm, it’s important to check the roof for potential damage as soon as possible. It may be possible to examine the tiles or slates from the ground, using binoculars. If the angle makes it difficult to see, you could climb a ladder to roof level for a closer look — but don’t go onto the roof unless you’re an experienced roofer.

You can also check for damage from inside. Go into your loft or attic during the day, with all lights switched off. If you see any points of light in the roof, this suggests you have gaps where water can get in and damage the timbers.

Checking Your Gutters

Your guttering should be checked on a regular basis, especially in autumn and spring, but high winds can give it a battering. The gutters or pipes may have sprung a leak, or else debris could have been blown into them and clogged them up. Either might result in water seeping down the walls, risking damage to both walls and foundations.

Ideally, its best to check the guttering close up, but other signs can suggest a problem. If you see water marks streaking the walls, or water pooling on the ground, it could well suggest a leak immediately above.

Fixing the Problems

If you’re an expert DIYer with experience of working at height, then you may be able to unclog your gutters or fix a small leak. Repairing roofing material, however, is always best left to professionals. If you suspect recent storms may have damaged your roof or gutters, you’re very welcome to get in touch with us.

The History of Roofing Construction

The History of Roofing Construction

When you come down to it, all a house really needs are walls, a roof and an opening to go in and out. Even the floor can be simply the bare earth. A roof fulfils many functions. It keeps out undesirable weather, from rain, wind and cold to excessive heat. But more than that, it makes us feel safe in our own homes.

Early Roofs

The earliest known roof was a mammoth skin stretched over a shelter built around 40,000 years ago. Various types of animal skin were used in prehistory, though sometimes leaves, turf or wood were preferred.

Clay tiles were first used in China at least 5,000 years ago, and in Europe by the Greeks and Romans. It was the Romans who introduced them to Britain, along with much of the rest of the continent.

The shape of roofs has always depended largely on the climate. Rounded or pitched roofs have always been necessary for drainage when rainfall is common, which is why flat roofs were rare in Britain until recent times. However, in drier countries, such as many Mediterranean lands, flat roofs are much more common.

The Development of Roofing

Although buildings in Roman Britain were commonly tiled, with either clay tiles or slates, the Anglo-Saxons tended to prefer thatch. It’s a beautiful material (who doesn’t love seeing a thatched cottage in a village?) but it tended to catch fire. Because of this, it began to be replaced by clay tiles during the medieval period.

Tiled roofs gradually became standard throughout much of Europe, with slate and even wooden tiles used as well as clay. Other materials, such as sheet metal, have been rare until recently. Copper and zinc were occasionally used throughout the world on special buildings, with even gold roofs occasionally rumoured, but they’ve only become common in the past century.

Roofing Today

With the development of asphalt roofing in the 20th century, flat roofs have become more common in Britain, especially as buildings began to stretch upwards. Various strategies to solve the drainage problem now make this a viable option, even in the British climate.

Nevertheless, pitched roofs of clay or slate tiles remain the overwhelming favourite in Britain, as well as throughout much of Europe and North America, with asphalt and metal as alternatives.

Roofing has come a long way since the days of mammoth skin, but its function is still the same — to keep us safe and comfortable in our homes. You’re very welcome to get in touch with us if you need more safety or comfort.

Can I Replace my Roof if There Are Birds Nesting There?

Can I Replace my Roof if There Are Birds Nesting There?

Since humans began building houses with roofs, birds have been taking advantage of them to nest. Most of the time, this doesn’t cause a nuisance or a health hazard (though there are exceptions) but there is still a problem. In general, the birds will have gained access through roof damage — so this is precisely when you’re likely to want to repair or replace your roof.

What Does the Law Say?

Most wild birds are protected by law, and in general, it’s illegal to destroy or disturb an active nest — that is, a nest containing either eggs or chicks. Disturbing includes preventing the adult birds from returning to the nest, which would result in the chicks dying.

There are some exceptions to this. In certain circumstances, removing a nest can be justified on the grounds of hygiene — this most often involves feral pigeons are nesting in a roof. In addition, there are situations where the nest may be moved to a specially constructed nesting box close to the original site.

However, you can’t normally do this on your own initiative. If you feel you may be justified in moving or destroying a nest, the best thing is to contact your local authority or the RSPB to clarify the situation and establish how this should be done.

The Implications for Repairing Your Roof

Unfortunately, this almost certainly makes it impossible to repair or replace your roof while there’s an active bird’s nest in the way. Small repairs to a different part of the roof may be permitted, but roof replacement isn’t going to be feasible.

An exception to this may be where the nest is discovered after work has already begun. If leaving the roof replacement half done will leave your home vulnerable, you may move the nest to a box fixed to the wall as close as possible to the originate location. If you’re unsure how to do this safely, the RSPB will be able to advise you.

What Are the Alternatives?

If you’re aware of roof-nesting birds (e.g. swifts, swallows, house martins or house sparrows) active near your home, it’s best to plan any roof repairs or replacement for autumn or winter, when the nests won’t be active. If at that time you want to discourage further nesting, you can block off any openings — but make sure no birds are trapped inside.

If you’re unsure whether you have birds nesting in your roof, you’re very welcome to give us a call, and we’ll advise you about your options.

Is It Safe to Walk on My Roof?

Is It Safe to Walk on My Roof?

In general, the roof of your property isn’t a safe place to walk. Any repairs that require access are best left to the professionals, but if you’re an expert DIYer (and have a good head for heights) you might want to try minor jobs yourself. If so, it’s essential to take precautions.

Reasons for Walking on a Roof

The most common reason for accessing your roof, and the only good reason on a pitched roof, is for repair work. While substantial repairs shouldn’t be undertaken by a DIYer, however skilled, you may want to try small jobs like replacing a single broken tile or cleaning off mould or moss.

A flat roof could also need minor repairs, but you may also want to use it to reach other parts of your building. For instance, the flat roof of a single-storey extension may be the best way to access a window for repairs or cleaning. A flat roof can also sometimes be used for leisure purposes — but only if it’s suitable.

Walking on a Pitched Roof

If you’re going up onto a pitched roof, it’s essential to take safety precautions. You should wear a hard hat and a safety harness attached to a firmly secured line. Also, make sure you have someone down below who could phone the emergency services if something goes wrong.

Besides the danger to you, you risk cracking tiles by walking on them. Wear soft shoes, or even better walk pads which will distribute your weight, and keep as much as possible to flat areas or valleys. If you have to step on the pitched sections, tread on the places where the tiles overlap and try to keep the weight distributed evenly between your feet.

Walking on a Flat Roof

A flat roof is less precarious than a pitched one, but you still run the risk of damaging the felt and potentially going through the membrane. You’re less likely to cause damage on a warm day, and it’s generally advisable to lay boards across it to walk on.

A flat roof can only be used for recreational purposes if it’s constructed to take the weight of continual walking and any equipment you bring up. If you’re not sure about this, you should have it surveyed by a structural engineer before attempting this use.

While your roof isn’t necessarily a no-go area, it’s generally better to leave it to the professionals. Feel free to get in touch with us if you want to know more.

Do You Know What’s Under Your Roof?

Do You Know What’s Under Your Roof?

Do you ever look up and admire the roof on your home? You should, as it’s vital in keeping you safe and comfortable from outside conditions, but the chances are you’ll only be thinking about the tiles, slates or roofing felt. There’s a lot more to a roof, though, and most of it goes on underneath.

By knowing how your roof is made, it’s a lot easier to identify when something’s going wrong, so here’s a quick rundown of what you might find under various types of roof.

Timber Rafter Roof

The traditional method of constructing roofs, this is still sometimes for pitched roofs. A timber beam called the wall plate is nailed to the top of the walls, and wooden rafters are fitted using joints to define the roof’s pitch.

Joists to support the ceiling and the loft floor are nailed at either end to the wall plates, allowing them both to support the whole frame and to resist the downward push of the rafters.

A ridge beam is then fitted along the top where the rafters meet. This doesn’t normally need to be very strong, but a roof featuring dormer windows might need a sturdier ridge beam, perhaps of steel. Finally, purlins are fitted to the inside of the rafters to support them — either one midway up or two at one third and two thirds.

Trussed Roofs

A quicker technique that’s grown steadily more popular since the 1960s is to use prefabricated trusses for the roof frame. In this case, made-to-measure trusses, consisting of sections formed by rafters and joists held together by struts and collar beams, are lifted into place and attached to the wall plate.

This is generally a more efficient method, often allowing a roof frame to be in place within a day. However, it’s important to be careful about choosing your trussed roof design, as some types make it difficult to use the roof-space for more than minimal storage.

Flat Roofs

The structure of flat roofs is relatively simple. Horizontal wooden joists are laid between wall plates, with a roof deck over them. This is typically a sheet of 18mm plywood or similar material, although in the past chipboard was sometimes used, before its shortcomings became clear.

Flat roofs are, in fact, normally constructed with a slight pitch, to enable water to drain off. A variant of the flat roof construction is a curved roof, which replaces the straight joists with curved timber glulam beams.

If you want to know more about what’s under your roof, you’re very welcome to get in touch with us.

 

What You Need to Know Before You Remove Your Chimney

What You Need to Know Before You Remove Your Chimney

Most houses built before the second half of the last century had a chimney. However, since central heating has largely replaced open fires, you may feel a chimney is unnecessary and wish to remove it.

This is certainly possible, but it’s not an easy job — and it has the capacity to go very wrong if you rush in without considering what you’re doing.

Why Do People Remove their Chimneys?

  • It may be as simple as that you have no plans to use the chimney in the future and wish to remove it completely.
  • Your chimney may have deteriorated or suffered from damp or weather damage and require substantial renovation. In this case, it could be cheaper to remove it than to repair it.
  • You may wish to reclaim the space the chimney is taking up inside your home.
  • You may live in an area where smoke emissions are banned, which would effectively rule out the possibility of future use.

Will It Affect the Property’s Value?

This will depend on the property. With many houses, the buyer may not miss the chimney, while the floor space gained inside could actually increase the value. On the other hand, if the house has a period feel, the lack of a chimney may be felt to diminish its charm.

However, it’s vital that every step is followed correctly. You probably won’t require planning permission, but it’s always worth enquiring, and you must certainly follow Building Regulations and have the work inspected by the local building control officer. If you can’t produce the necessary certificates when you put the property on the market, buyers may well pull out or request a price reduction.

What Are the Most Common Problems When Removing a Chimney?

As mentioned, you must ensure that you have all necessary permissions. Besides following the Building Regulations for structural strength, fire safety, sound insulation, maintenance of your neighbour’s chimney (if relevant), damp prevention and ventilation to rooms, don’t forget that if the property is a leasehold you’ll need the freehold owner’s permission. Also, if the chimney is in a party wall, you must comply with the Party Wall Act.

If you’re removing the chimney breast, you may need support beams for the masonry above it, while the roof timbers will need to be extended to compensate for removing the chimney stack.

The most important thing is to have the work done by an expert company who will be able to advise you of what’s necessary. Feel free to get in touch with us if you need to discuss removing your chimney.