Your home is a place of warmth, comfort and safety, but when the roof over your head is no longer doing its job, it is time to bite the bullet and get repairing.
Whether you have already noticed damp or are just keen to prevent problems before they get serious, here are a few tips on recognising a potential issue, checking where the problem might have occurred, and where and how to find a reliable roofer to fix things.
The recent St Jude's storm will no doubt have dislodged a few slates or tiles, and these easily solvable issues are perhaps the most common roof problem. But damp may also arise from blocked or sagging gutters and downpipes, while damage to flashing - the lead or zinc used at the joins between roof and chimney stack or walls - may also be the cause.
Birds, vermin and insects can all cause damage, particularly if they squeeze their way into the loft where the roof timbers are an easy meal for the latter. If you have a chimney, be particularly watchful of leaning or crumbling mortar or render. A flat roof may also suffer from a split covering that can let water in.
Checking for problems
Many potential issues can be checked without putting yourself in any danger.
If you suspect loose or missing tiles or slates, blocked gutters or leaky downpipes, chimney issues or damaged flashing, simply stand on the opposite side of the road or a good distance away from the house, and get a closer look with the aid of a pair of binoculars. If a flat roof is easily accessible, watch for pooling on any part of the roof, a build up of leaves or moss, and any damage to the covering.
The loft can also provide some telltale clues as to potential problems, particularly if you live in an old building. Check that timbers and joints are tight, dry and feel solid, and keep a keen eye on any evidence of rot or possible insect issues.
In a building where you can see the battens that support the tiles, be aware that if daylight shines through, you likely have a missing tile to deal with.
Repairing your roof
Unless you're a seasoned DIYer or a professional tradesman, fixing your own roof is not advisable. However, simple jobs such as clearing guttering and painting it to prevent rust may be possible if you're comfortable on a ladder and have someone there to hold it steady for safety.
Generally speaking though, it's best to call in a professional when it comes to roofing jobs. To avoid the cowboy builders we hear so much about, it's an idea to look to the National Federation of Roofing Contractors and search for your nearest registered member.
The cost will vary according to what area you live in and how major the repairs, but expect to pay a good roofer anywhere from £150 to £250 a day for labour. Remember though that scaffolding will almost certainly be necessary, and this can seriously bump up the price so ask for at least three quotes, and make sure you get a written quotation detailing the cost of the entire job, rather than agreeing a day-to-day payment.
In general, it pays to replace materials like for like in order to fit in with the surroundings, but your chosen roofer should be able to advise if there is a more durable alternative.
Are you an experienced roofer? What advice would you give to homeowners looking for damage? Leave your comments below...