When you’re buying a house, the survey is one of the most critical parts of the whole process. The property may look wonderful but if it’s about to fall down or riddled with cracks, you want to steer well clear. One of the most difficult yet most vital areas to check is the roof. There are a few easy visual checks you can make yourself to help inform your surveyor of any areas you’d like them to take a closer look at in a full homebuyer’s roof survey.
Our top 10 tips for a homebuyer's roof survey
- From ground level, have a good look at the roof to see if any tiles have slipped or are broken. If so, you may have holes which can lead to more serious interior problems. At the very least you’ll want to have missing or broken tiles replaced.
- Cast an eye over the general condition of the roof – is it discoloured, heavily weathered or patched? All of these could be signs that the roof is nearing the end of its lifespan.
- Even if the roof still looks OK, check the neighbouring roofs to see if many have been replaced recently. If so, this could be another sign that there’s not much life left in the one you’re considering.
- Now check the guttering and downpipes – are they old cast iron types which may be rusting and in need of repair? If they’re plastic, are there any signs of cracking or warping? Most importantly, check the joints, which are a key area for leakage in older pipework.
- Look at the soffits and the boards to which the gutters are fixed. If the paint is cracked, chipped or peeling, this could be a sign that they haven’t been well maintained and could need repair or replacement due to decay.
- Inside the property, ask the estate agent or current owners if you can take a look in the loft. You want to check whether there’s adequate loft insulation – if not, you’ll need to get this put in.
- While you’re there, check the timbers for any signs of water ingress (dampness, mould, mildew) or tell-tale holes from woodworm or other critters which may be chomping away on the beams. If you spot anything, check when the timbers were last treated.
- Have a look around for missing timbers – missing struts (sloping timbers between the middle of the pitch and the floor) and collars – horizontal ties between the pitches. Sometimes these are taken out to create more usable space, but they’re integral to the structural stability of your roof.
- Check whether there is underfelt beneath the tiles or slates. If there isn’t, chances are the roof is quite old and may need replacing sooner rather than later.
- Last but by no means least, have a look at the chimney breasts in the loft. Check if there are any cracks or missing brickwork. Inspect carefully around where the chimney breast goes through the roof itself – if it’s damp you’ll want to get it properly inspected for leaks.
Thoughts of a Bristol roofer
Buying a new house is a very exciting time but it’s also one of the most expensive purchases you’ll ever make, so it pays to ensure your investment is a sound one. Your own visual checks are no substitute for a professional roof inspection, which can provide a full and detailed assessment of any defects and the cost needed to rectify them. You could save yourself thousands of pounds and many hours of hassle over the longer term.