Examples of problems with roof structures


We use lots of sketches and photos in our building surveys

We can provide help and advice with regard to building surveys, structural surveys, independent valuations, property surveys, structural reports, engineers reports, home buyers reports or any other property matters . We can carry out specific defect reports relating to roof problems and advise on practical solutions. In the past we have carried out survey reports on problems with the roof structure to problems with the roof covering.

As you can see from our articles on surveying we use lots of sketches and photos which we also use in our property reports as the feedback we have from our clients is that the sketches and photos help them understand the reports better and ultimately solve the problems and carry out the appropriate negotiations. We, of course, like to meet you at the property during the survey and we are more than happy to talk to you about the reports. Please free phone 0800 298 5424 for a friendly chat with one of our surveyors.


A problem with the roof can often indicate problems with the whole building

1. Replacement of slate or tile roof with a heavier concrete tile without adding strength to the roof structure

This can result in failure of the common rafters (the ones that form the pitch of the roof) and / or the roof pushing out the walls and causing roof spread.


58 Roof spread pushes walls out

Roof spread of heavy roof pushes walls out

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2. Rafter feet rotting

This is a very strange term but this relates to the common rafters rotting at the base where perhaps there is a sit on gutter or even a leaking gutter or a roof against a flat roof and the base of the timbers rots away. The most common place we see this is on Victorian properties to the rear extension and interestingly it is not to the base of the roof it is to the top of the roof where the top of the roof meets the parapet wall.





Rafter feet


3. Roofs affected by wet rot, dry rot or woodworm

All roofs that are significantly affected by wet rot, dry rot or woodworm deteriorate. For example recently we came across a common rafter that had actually broken under the structural pressures having been weakened with dampness getting in the roof. Interestingly in the same building we also saw problems with woodworm eating through a purlin to such an extent that it had structurally weakened the timber and there had been movement in the roof.






4. Wind driven rain

We also had another case where the entirety of a block of flats had been re-roofed and the roofing contractor had not lapped the slates appropriately and therefore wind driven rain got underneath the slates.


Wind driven rain

Some of these problems can happen of course on both a gable roof or a hipped roof.


Other articles that may be of interest

The following articles give further information related to roofs, but don't forget that we have written articles on many different areas of property:

Common Pitched Roofs

Roof Problems

Problems with builders working on your roof

Leaking Dormer Roof


Things to look out for which may be signs that the roof has problems

If you look at the corner of this hipped roof you can see that there is movement in the hipped roof.


Can you spot the problem with this hipped roof?

Hipped roof

Doors can indicate problems

Doors are a very good indicator of any problems and when you see angle irons. In this particular case this movement meant that there was a broken common rafter inside and this was because dampness was getting into the roof.


Signs of movement in roof


Can you spot the problems with these roofs? 

The photo looking into the corner of a roof gave the first indicator that there were problems with movement and that there had been long term problems. If you look at the horizontal timber that goes across the corner of the walls this is the tie that is trying to stop the movement in the property.


Looking at the corner of a roof


Looking up into a cathedral ceiling. The circled tie was added to try to stop movement

Metal Ties

Also metal ties or angle iron externally can be a clue that there are problems, for example in this photo.

Metal ties


Examples of Problems that we see in roofs

This problem was only viewed when we were in the roof. We are forever amazed at surveyors that don't go in roofs and we are well aware that the new Valuation requirement for surveyors means that you don't even have to open the loft hatch. We feel that a surveyor doing either a building survey or a structural survey should always go in the roof.

Crack in common rafter

In this particular case the roof problems have been caused by the dampness getting in the roof and also the poor selection of timber; if you look closely you can see there is a large knot in this timber which has led to it cracking when in the damp environment.


Dampness getting into the roof


If you look closely at these photos, you can see that there is extensive woodworm attack to this purlin. You can see the frass and deteriorating timber where a knife has been put into the purlin. Normally we don't find that woodworm causes a problem, in fact we would go so far as to say that probably only one in a hundred times that we see woodworm it causes what we would term as structurally significant problems however you certainly don't want to have these.




Frass defined

The chewed up sawdust that the beetle leaves behind. A light coloured dust and a light coloured hole indicates this is relatively recent. Obviously if it is a darker coloured frass, or darker coloured hole, it means it is older and the woodworm may have gone.


Frass and deteriorating timber


Dampness to valley gutters

If we can see a valley gutter externally we then look for one internally and check for dampness, which again can lead to deteriorating timbers.

110 Valley gutters examples

Valley gutter



Valley gutter externally


Valley gutter internally with dampness


Independent Surveyors

If you truly do want an independent expert opinion from a building surveyor please call us today on 0 800 298 5424 to have a free of charge friendly chat with one of our surveyors. We are happy to carry out valuations, building surveys, structural surveys, structural reports, engineers reports, specific defects reports, home buyers reports or any other property matters on both residential and commercial properties. We would be glad to email you several examples of our tailor made reports such as Structural Surveys and Property Reports.


We feel our surveys are quite unique, as they are written to your level of knowledge. The surveys include photos, sketches and definitions. The survey will also include an action required section and an estimate of costs in the executive summary. We are more than happy to meet you at the property whilst carrying out the survey to discuss any specific issues you may have or have a general chat about what we have found at the end of the survey.

We trust you found the article of use and if you have any experiences that you believe 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 pause to contact us (we are only human).

The content of the website is 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. Why not free phone 1stAssociated.co.uk on 0800 298 5424


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