building valuations


Common Pitched Roofs


! independent surveyors can offer you Building Surveys (also known as Structural Surveys) and Home Buyers Reports, together with Specific Defects Reports on problems with roofs, insulation, cold bridging, thermal efficiency, cracking, movement, dampness, and any other property problem.

Please Free phone us on 0800 298 5424 and a surveyor will call you back.


Caveat Emptor

Caveat emptor means 'buyer beware' and is why we recommend you always have an building survey carried out by an independent surveyor (one not attached to an estate agents, bank or building society) to find out if there are any problems within the property as the estate agent certainly will not advise you of any.

We ask you to take a minute to have a look at an example of one of our surveys to see how good they are. Not only are they technically accurate and carried out by experienced, expert Building Surveyors, they are written in plain English with photos and sketches to help you understand and appreciate about the house you are buying.

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What do the red ovals mean?

The red 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. 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 gutter sketch


The good, bad and ugly survey

We would also like to tell you about what we call our good, bad and ugly survey which is a building survey which we have developed over many years, in fact several decades. We have listened to feedback from our clients and amended and altered our surveys to make them easy to read and describe issues clearly.

We believe our surveys are easy to understand, but do not take our word for it call us on free phone 0800 298 5424 and ask for an example of one of our surveys to be emailed to you.

We have normally carried out a building survey similar to the property you are considering buying and therefore we can show you an example of the type of structural survey you will be receiving. We would recommend that you do not just book a survey but with whoever you decide to have your independent building survey with you talk to them, receive an example survey as well as meet with the surveyor at the property.

There are various ideas we have developed over the years to make our surveys more readable everything from 16x optical zoom digital photographs next to the problem which show and explain what the problem is, to sketches that clarify any issues particular ones that we cannot photograph but know are present. We can also carry out thermal imaging of the propety to show any heat loss. We have commissioned our own sketches to explain property issues which you will not find with any other Surveyor.


Types of roof problems

Roof problems fall into two categories: repairable and replacement needed and roofs themselves fall into two categories: pitched and flat (please also see our articles on Not so common pitched roofs and Flat roofs).


Pitched Roofs


Slate roof problems

From the Victorian times, when transport systems in the form of the train became nationwide, slate was used extensively. This is what we would term as quarried slate to distinguish it from the more modern type of slate, which we will discuss later, known as man made slate. The slates were fixed with nails, battens and lapped to make sure it was watertight, approximately 100 plus years ago.


Typical problems with a slate roof

Corrosion of the nails, known as nail sickness

In the older original type of roofs the nails used were not galvanised and therefore rusted over time, which is commonly known as nail sickness, where the slates slipped due to the fixing nail rusting away. There were various repair options, such as:

  A patch repair

  A tingle repair

  A bitumen repair, known as turnerising

  or replacement of the roof if things are severe

Each have their various advantages/disadvantages.


Patch repair

The problem with trying to repair a slipped or damaged slate is that more damage could be caused carrying out the work than good as many slates may have to be removed to replace the one. A product known generically as Flashband is often used, this is like a sticky back lead.
Valley gutter with Flashband repairs (silver)  


Slate roof that has been felted over! Manmade slate roof repaired with a mineral felt




We were tempted to say a lead tingle, as these are often strips of lead that are then hooked around the slate and the batten to hold it into place. We have also seen other material being used other than lead.


Slate roof with lead tingels with some spacing to the slates
Slate roof with lead tingles



This is a cheap and cheerful bitumen coat of paint that is applied to the slates to make them waterproof. It does wear over time but it can be reapplied. Unfortunately, when it comes to the point when the entire roof needs replacing the slates will have been ruined by the bitumen covering.
A turnatised slate roof


A special mention for butterfly roofs


Butterfly roofs are where the gully is in the centre of the roof, which can in itself cause trouble with the gully getting blocked, or a build up of water if there isn't a sufficient flow in it. Other problems can occur where the roof is not prepared or finished properly (but it is normally a repair) and the lead is not taken under the felt but over it.



Slate roof with valley gutter with moss building up and also lead tingles


A modern manmade slate being used on a valley gutter


Broken slat roof


Slate roof with lichens upon it


Slipped slate


A cat slide roof made from slates


Modern slat roof
This photo shows the flatness and shininess of manmade slates


Problems with slate roofs with a bitumen protective underlayer

From the war years forward protective underlayers were used. There have been a variety of materials, including Hessian based felts, and a variety of plastic. This type of roof can have problems with the fixings but is unlikely to as there should be galvanised nails. Having said that, on a practically new build (within three years of it being built) we found a roof that had used a mixture of galvanised and non-galvanised metal nails. This could be as simple as the person buying the nails ordered wrongly or as complex as the person didn't know.


Concrete tile roofs


Problems with the weight of concrete tile roofs

Usually where a concrete tile roof is used as a replacement of an original roof the timber structure within the roof, unless it is amended, will not be able to cope with the extra weight. A worst case scenario involves the walls of the property being pushed out, causing what is known as wall spread. A best case scenario is nothing to a minor dip in the roof. Quite simply, if you are adding roof tiles to an older roof you need to add support as well. The Building Regulations now make this a requirement before such work is carried out.


Cracked tiles

We have come across the occasional cracked tiles, possibly caused by impact damage. This type of roof is relatively simple to replace the broken tile and re-fit into the existing configuration.


Moss on concrete tiles


A problem we have come across more and more is moss on concrete tiles. Often this is exacerbated where there are trees nearby. The moss builds up, which in turn allows water to sit on the roof, which in turn allows damage to be caused to the surface of the tiles. In addition to this, if you are allowing to clear the moss off be careful as it could fall in some gutters and block these and cause further problems.


Interlocking concrete tiles

A new concrete tile that is available is one that interlocks, therefore each tile holds each other tile in position. We feel that this does tend to make it easier for roofers for work at speed and indeed we have come across problems with roof tiles where they have not been fixed down adequately. The interlocking tiles, we hope, will alleviate this problem, although have no long term history of this sort of tile in use. By long term we mean 50 to 75 plus years.



A concrete tile roof
A bed match on a concrete tile roof. Also notice the very shallow (too shallow) roof at low level underneath the window


A modern concrete tile roof
A concrete tile roof with the survace starting to deteriorate.
A very shallow concrete tile roof with potential for problems where it meets the flat roof


Missing tilting fillet
Another example of a concrete tile roof
Too shallow a concrete tile roof



No tilting fillet


Clay tiles

This is an older style form of roof finish. The really old tiles have pegs holding them into place against the battens.


Wet rot to clay tile pegs

Obviously with them being so close to the rain rot can occur. Nevertheless, in the older style pegs the quality of timber was better and they do tend to last longer. There are many fine examples of clay peg tile roofs. With some of them we are not sure what is holding them in place other than gravity!


A clay tile roof, with some tiles missing

Slate roof with lead tingles A clay tile roof with a clay tile on edge as a flashing. This would be much better as a lead flashing


Moss sitting on clay tiles

A clay peg tile with holes at the top for the pegs


Clay tile roof repaired using a mastic
Displaced tiles


A clay tile roof that has been lifted by the wind
A clay tile roof with movement
Clay tile roof repaired using concrete tiles

We refer you to other articles about roofs that may be of interest to you you:

Roof Problems and Information

Not So Common Pitched Roofs

Flat Roofs


How do I repair my roof?


How do I find a good roofer?

This probably has to be equivalent to the how long is a piece of string question. First we would say you need to ensure that whoever you use has your best interest at heart rather than their best interest and that they are not simply trying to sell you the most profitable solution to them. Word of mouth is a great way of finding good builders but do be aware that often word of mouth recommendations come via someone who doesn't have any experience or expertise or working with builders.

Therefore the reasons for their word of mouth could be that the builder turned up on the day that he said he would, finished the job on the day that he said he would and charged the price he said he would, which ironically can be a good recommendation, but not if the work carried out was technically wrong or of poor quality. You should also take great care if your property is an old property as it could be a Listed Building or in a conservation area or simply need a builder that knows how to deal with older properties.

Equally, a newer property also has to be dealt with in an appropriate manner, so the experience the builder has is very important. We have developed a specific defects report for looking at a specific problem, such as chimneys on your property. These originally developed from our engineers report that specifically looked at structural cracks in properties, which then moved onto us giving specific advice on dampness in properties, due to many contracts being involved in this industry simply being there to sell a product rather than to give you best advice.

If you truly do want an independent expert opinion from a surveyor with regard to chimneys, roof problems, roof repairs, roof materials or any other matters please contact 0800 298 5424 for a surveyor to give you a call back.


Access requirements

It is very, very likely that on a re-roof or a major repair scaffolding will be required. Scaffolding is not cheap and you will also have to make the decision as to whether a roof is put over the top of the scaffolding in case it rains or there is inclement weather during the course of the repair or renewal work to the roof. Please see our article on scaffolding.


Work carried off long ladders and crawler boards

In years gone by most roofing work would be carried out off long ladders and crawler boards. This simply wasn't safe then and is certainly not safe now. A good contractor will insist upon a scaffolding to work from, even where the site is difficult, for example where there is a shop front that you have to work around, there are scaffolding solutions. In that instance using a unitary scaffold. Some people use unitary scaffolds all the time as it saves them time, but we certainly would not recommend crawler boards and a ladder.


If you would like help and advise with regard to roofs, roof problems, roof repairs, roof materials or any other matters please call 0800 298 5424 for a friendly chat. Please note we are independent surveyors.

If you have a commercial property and require dilapidations help then please visit our website and for Disputes go to our Disputes Help site .

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

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