For many home buyers the state of repair of the roof is of considerable concern as the cost of remedy can be substantial and the level of disruption to occupants severe.
Often, unsuspecting buyers are unaware of the problems that await as the roof is hard to view, innaccesible and often poorly patched up to conceal defects.
Our recent survey of a property in Liverpool revealed just such a scenario and should be taken as a cautionary tale (to always get a survey!) to anyone considering buying a property:
Missing Damp Proof Barrier
The waterproofing between the chimneys and the roof (Flashing), where visible, were of lead construction. The weatherproofing to the top of the chimney stacks (Flaunching) where visible is of sand/cement construction.
Regular maintenance to the chimney stacks should have been carried out as they are particularly exposed to the weather. Modern chimneys are required by Building Regulations to have a damp proof barrier above the junction with the roof. However these chimneys did not have this and a degree of dampness to the chimney breast in the roof space was discovered as a result.
The render finish to the rear chimney stack conceals the underlying masonry from view. The surveyor suspected that the concealed masonry may have been defective as the render appeared to be a recent and amateurish application.
There were extensive damp stains to the ceiling in the rear bedroom and roof timbers in the loft, indicating a problem with the flashing around the chimney. A cost of repair should be sought from a reputable roofer to inspect and report upon the condition of the area around the chimney.
Disused chimney stacks should be capped at the top and ventilated top and bottom to reduce the risk of condensation and associated defects. We were unable to establish the presence of such provisions.
The roof was pitched and covered with slates, fixed over timber battens and a secondary waterproof barrier.
Roof slopes demonstrated significant dishing and sag (consistent with age). Re -levelling and/or strengthening/renewal of timbers will be required and the roof covering will need to be overhauled (stripped and re-laid).
Always get a Survey
In cases such as these, assuming the buyer has commissioned a Home Buyers Survey prior to exchange of contracts, it would be advised to re-negotiate the purchase price. Re-Roofing can be vastly expensive and for a terraced Victorian Property such as this would cost in the region of £20-30k