Problems with builders working on your


Our Independent Surveyors would be happy to help you and give you advice with regards to roofs, roof problems, roof repairs, roof materials, building surveys, structural reports, engineers reports, specific defects report, structural surveys, home buyers reports or any other property matters then please free phone 0800 298 5424 for a free friendly chat.


Fiddlers on your roof, or what builders do when you can't see what they are doing!

As Chartered Surveyors we have come across many examples of poor quality workmanship when carrying out structural surveys. This article specifically looks at the problems we see in relation to roofing work. Unfortunately when a roofing job is carried out incorrectly or poorly it will ultimately lead to water getting into the structure. Many times water will enter the structure without being visible for quite some time and can cause damage and deterioration below it. This means it is important that you ensure, when you have roofing work carried out, that it is carried out correctly.

Ponding on an Asphalt roof

Free phone 0800 298 5424

What do the circles and ovals mean?

The circles and ovals are a system that we used within our structural surveys and building surveys to highlight problem areas so that you are not left wondering what the problem is.


Our sketches

In addition to this if the photographs do not, we believe, explain the problem enough together with our survey report we also add in one of our own sketches such as the example that is shown here.

Valley gutters


Some of the problems we have seen over the years

1.  A modern slate roof that has been fixed without any securing pins. The photos below show what this looks like. The home owner was completely unaware of how the work had been carried out. All they knew is that there were leaks inside the property.

No pins are visible indicating the slates have been masticed in place


Slates pinned in place

2.  The reason you cannot see any pins may well be because it has usually been masticed in place. Here are some photos showing how masticing the slate does not work. As you can see the slates have slipped out and nicely positioned themselves on the flat roof below. In this instance it was lucky that there was a flat roof below to catch them. The amount of mastic that was used was fairly minimal.

Manmade slates that have been masticed in place.

Close up of where a tile has been masticed in place.


3.  The popular way of repairing slate roofs, if you are not going to take the slates off and re-fix them, is to use a lead tingle. Here we can see one on a manmade slate roof.

How the slates should be fixed with a tingle

Roof tingle

Let's talk briefly about why manmade slate roofs are used rather than slate. The main reason is that they are far cheaper. Often a roofer will be able to get a second hand value on a real slate, this would mean a quarried slate, and in the example shown above they may well earn as much by removing the old slates and selling them on as they would from doing the job itself. This is great as long as you know about it and are suitably reimbursed. It is not as great if it is done without your knowledge.

Quarried slate roof


It's all about preparation even when you are using builders/roofers that should know what they are doing.

First of all we mean your preparation!


Quotations are essential.

You need to get quotations for work on a like for like basis. These should be quotations and not estimates as estimates can change in price whereas a quotation tends to be fixed unless it advises otherwise.

Signs that something is not right - plants growing from the gable end

We have dealt with several problems recently where the initial choice of contractors was based solely on price and not on the work they have carried out previously. The people that were about to use the builders were not aware of any of the builders previous work either in the form of visiting previous jobs, talking to the property owners (how long does it take to make a phone call?) or by seeing photos of their previous work.

Signs that the building job is not right no mortar in the gable end also known as a verge detail

You cannot compare quotations if you are comparing apples with pears. You need to be comparing apples with apples whilst making sure the brand of apple is the same! If you obtain three quotes for a specific job and one of these quotes is half the price of the others then this generally means that the contractor is quoting for a completely different job.

Our rule of thumb for quotations is for every thousand pounds spent you should have one page of detailed quotation i.e. a £5,000 quotation should have at least five pages.

Sign that the building job is going well a lead verge to stop wind and rain getting in


What should a quote look like on a large job?

First of all you need to define large. In our experience this varies from person to person. The best way to decide this is to say that a large job is whatever you consider to be a large job. This may be many hundreds of pounds or it may be several thousands of pounds.

Ideally in a perfect world the quotation should be a very detailed explanation of what work is going to be carried out and to what timescale. Trade Institutes such as the Federation of Master Builders do offer a standard-ish contract but you do need to distinguish between the contract and the quotation. The contract sets out the rules whereas the quotation explains what will be carried out.

Parapet wall has plants growing out of it. Black tar paint tends to indicate there has been a leak


As we have already mentioned we recommend as a general rule of thumb that a quotation should have at least one page per thousand pounds. On a smaller job we would recommend one page of quotations / explanation of what is going to be carried out by whom and when. It may be worth ensuring that you receive approximately one page per five hundred pounds worth of work.

Firstly felt has been used instead of lead. Secondly it does not sit under the slates enough. It should lap under two courses rather than approximately 100mm as can be seen here.


We couldn't possibly do an article on roofs without talking about flat roofs.

Over the years materials used in flat roofs have improved considerably to the point where we literally have high performance felt that's elastomeric, meaning that it can cope with movement. However this doesn't mean anything if the flat roof is flat and water sits on it as the water will eventually get into the building.

Mono-ply roof with a felt edging! Yes it was snowing when we carried out this roof survey!

We have also seen the trend of using what is known as a mono-ply roofing system. This is a single sheet of roofing. The best example we have of it as it is commonly known is a fish pond lining. This is very widely used in commercial properties on the hidden flat roofs to a McDonald's fast food restaurant for example or a TGI Friday restaurant.

We have come across some terrible examples of workmanship over the years that have allowed water in or ponding. Often this is on insulation that the rainwater soaks into causing long term damage.

Circular repairs carried out on a fish pond roof


Traditional Cold deck roof with no insulation

Warm roof with insulation


An example of a project that has gone very wrong

Today we were asked to look at a roofing project on a high level property (by high level we mean over three storeys in height) where the roofer/builder did not think for one minute that anyone would ever look at his work. In this case very basic rules were broken. Firstly only one quote was obtained. Secondly the £5,000 quotation was on one page (so not the one page to every thousand pounds) and this literally said that they would repair the roof but did not say exactly what they would be doing or in how long they would be doing it for.

Fish pond roofs can look good on a sunny day

You may be asking how does such a situation arise? You would be surprised at how often we come across people that just automatically trust builders or have often had them recommended and so trust them.

The largest projects we have seen have had quotations carried out on a few pages for costs in excess of a £100,000. The record to date for a one page quotation is £42,000 although it did relate to other work that was being carried out and for drawings of a kitchen completed by a kitchen designer (even though they were then not employed).

Ponding on a felt roof. Although a felt roof is good it still needs to have a fall on it


The builder/roofer was so friendly before the job started.


As with any sales person (and remember that's what the builder/roofer is in this case) they are very friendly and keen to please and will say exactly what you want to hear prior to starting work. At the end of the day it is what is actually in the quote that is important.

Flashing has not been fitted properly


Arguments about what the builder did and didn't include

The most common argument and disagreements we feel are about the quality of the work. Running a very close second is the argument about what is or what is not included. Some builders can be remarkably accurate with their quotations but remarkably inaccurate with their work.

Flashing detail


Sequence of work and timing

This is also a bone of contention as often builders disappear and work seems to be carried out in an illogical manner. This means that sometimes things need to be done several times and can be very frustrating for someone who is watching this happen.

Basics need to be sorted out such as unblocking drains on flat roofs


Using your own contractors

By this we mean where you have a builder on a project and you decide to use some of your own known contractors for some of the work. This can cause all sorts of confusion for the builder and we feel should be avoided at all costs where at all possible. The builder will blame your contractors and your contractors will blame the builder.


Demands for money from the builder before any more work is carried out.

This is often known as builder's revenge where part of the way through a project the builder decides he will not carry out any more work unless you pay him more money. We have heard of contractors that have literally had their men standing outside the person's house waiting for them to pay them before they will proceed. We have also seen jobs where workmen have literally walked off leaving materials on the roof or in the garden and have just gone onto another job. Of course once a builder has walked off it is very hard to get them to come back particularly if you have fallen out with them. It is even harder to get another builder to take over when you have had a fall out with a builder as they feel there could be future problems. There is almost a lack of trust before they start.


How do you work with your builder?

Please see the article that we have previously written.


Cowboy builders and cowboy clients! 


How do you resolve problems once they have happened ?

Phone us for a friendly chat!


Compare Surveys

What is an Independent Survey?

Builders, Building Problems and Roofs and how a Chartered Surveyor can help



Independent Chartered Surveyors

If you truly do want an independent expert opinion from a Chartered Surveyor, and many of us are also Chartered Builders, with regard to building surveys, structural reports/engineers reports/specific defects report, structural surveys, home buyers reports or any other property matters please contact 0800 298 5424 for a chartered surveyor to give you a call back.

We hope you found the article of use and if you have any experiences that you feel should be added to this article that would benefit others, or you feel that some of the information that we have put is wrong then please do not hesitate to contact us (we are only human).

The contents of the web site are for general information only and is not intended to be relied upon for specific or general decisions. Appropriate independent professional advice should be paid for before making such a decision

All rights are reserved the contents of the web site is not to be reproduced or transmitted in any form in whole or part without the express written permission of .



building engineers



building engineers

Home Buyers Reports Property Surveys - why we're the best. Engineers Reports
© Copyright

1stassociated-logo-for-footer IVSA-badge IVSA-putting-client-first call-us-for-footer

We have thousands of free property articles to help you - or call us freephone on 0800 298 5424

We have been working in the property industry for many years and have been
providing free property articles for over ten years. All for free and to help you with buying your next property.

House and Home Surveys and Useful Information

All you need to know about Building Surveys

Building Control, what do they do?

Designers and Architects will they save me money or will they cost me money

Enviroment, Your Building and Garden Gnomes

Estate Agents help sell houses and work for the vendors

Have a Structural Survey to protect you against structural problems

Home improvements, builder problems and ideas for you on how to solve them

How a Surveyor values a property, Chartered Surveyors and Regulated Valuers

How Chartered Engineers and Building Engineers can help you

Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas

NHBC National House Building Council

Structural Surveys and How We Can Help You

Traditional and Non-Traditional Houses and Mortgage Problems

Valuations and how much is the building worth?

Whats the difference between a Chartered Building Surveyor, Chartered Surveyor and an Independent Surveyor

Useful property problem articles by Chartered Surveyors explaining building issues to avoid

External - Helpful information on building problems on the outside of the property

Chimney issues and problems

Cracking and Movement Problems and Surveying Solutions

Flat Roof Problems, how we can solve them

Foundations and Structures and Settlement and Subsidence and Underpinning

Pitched Roofs Problems and Solutions

Roof Problems

Wall Problems

Windows and Doors and Fascias and Soffits and Wet Rot and Dry Rot and other problems

Internal - House problems we have investigated inside

All you ever need to know about floors

Asbestos in your home, what you need to know

Ceiling Cracks and Structural Problems

Condensation, Damp and Black Mould Problems

Cracking and Movement Problems and Surveying Solutions

Windows and Doors and Fascias and Soffits and Wet Rot and Dry Rot and other problems

Woodworm is it a problem or not? Is it active or not?

Services - Building help and advice on costly services

Drainage, what's underground can affect what's above ground

Heating; I just can't get my house warm enough or alternatively I just can't get my house cool enough

You can't mess around with the electric, you need an expert


Commercial Property Services

Building Terms Explained and Directories

Commercial Property Surveys

Commercial Structural Surveys

Leisure Facilites

Offices Large and Small

Shops and Retail

Warehouse and Industrial Buildings

Dilapidations Help and Advice What is a Dilapidations Notice?

A Beginner's Guide to Dilaps

Damp Mould and Condensation

Dampness Rising Damp Mould Black Mould Condensation

Dilapidations and Negotiations

Dilapidations Claim by a Landlord

Energy Saving what can I do?

Finance what is a Financial Adviser (We are not Financial Advisors)

Fire Risk and Help

Health and Safety Risks

Insurance how do I get the correct property insurance?

Landlords Surveying Advice

Property Investment how can I invest in property?

Property TV Reviews by an Independent Surveyor

Schedules of Condition Leasing a Commercial Property

Scotts Schedule and Section 18 Valuation

Tenants Surveying Advice

Weather how does weather affect my property?



Snow and Ice

Strong Winds

Reviews from clients on Commercial Building Surveys

Churches and Charities, helpful reviews from our clients

Industrial Buildings and Warehouses and what our clients say about us

Offices Large and Small, reviews and feedback from our clients

Pubs, Restaurants, Hotels and other Leisure facilities we have surveyed over the years

Shops and Retail, helpful reviews from our clients


First Time Buyers

Buying a Leasehold or Shared Freehold Home

Buying and Selling Houses for the experienced house and home purchaser

First Time Buyers how do I go about buying my first house and home?

Improve your property knowledge with our presentations on house, homes and commercial property

Building Surveys

Building Surveying Useful Information


Dilapidations Presentations in Detail

Final Year Building Surveying Exams for University Students or those that would like to know more

How old is your Building? Which era was it built in?

Party Walls

Surveyors and Design Tools

Disputes and Party Walls

Boundary Disputes

Building and Property Disputes

Party Wall Book Reviews

Party Walls Your Rights and Responsibilities

1stAssociated Surveyors Review for Structural Surveys and Building Surveys

Building Surveys, reviews and feedback from satisfied customers

Buy to let property clients, what they say about our structural surveys

Buying at auction, review of the survey

Buying bungalows and retirement properties and how our surveyors can help

Both at work / busy couples, how we can help and some 1stAssociated client reviews

Families with a young person flying the nest, reviews and feedback

First Time Buyers, what they say about us

Listed buildings, structural surveys

Older buildings, a review of buying an older house

Families with children looking for a new home, feedback and reviews

Buying a Non-Traditional Property

Residential Surveys

House and Home Surveys

Commercial Building Surveys

Commercial Surveys

1st Associated Surveyors Are Also Available in the Following Areas:

East Anglia and East

South and South East

West Country and South West


North and North East



London Markets

London Parks



Areas of Britain

1stAssociated Independent Expert Property Surveyors

Specialists in Home Buyers Reports, Building Surveys and Structural Surveys and Schedules of Condition

All Surveyors are Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors qualified and RICS regulated

and are Members of the Independent Surveyors and Valuers Association

Putting the Client First

We do not accept service of documents by email or fax