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Your London building surveyor goes up on the roof

15 February, 2017

A few months ago we focused on issues associated with sash windows in London properties. This month, we look at some of the roofing issues that a skilled London building surveyor can help you detect if you’re planning to buy one of the city’s Victorian or Edwardian houses…

As pointed out in an interesting Telegraph article a few years ago, the Edwardian era gave us some very high-quality homes. An important part of this down to the work of pioneering architects – including professionals that surveyors in London still revere, such as Lutyens and Thackeray.

In London, Hampstead Garden Suburb probably epitomises the cream of residential architecture in the golden years just before WW1. And of course, this era followed on from the Victorian period that gave us another big part of today’s housing stock. Advising on the properties of these eras forms a major part of the work of chartered surveyors in London.

Many London homes have been neglected

Unfortunately, as The Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors ( RICS), London will confirm, due to time’s passing and societal changes, many homes originally built in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries now suffer from a lack of care – or downright abuse. Many have also suffered the consequences of poor or inappropriate works. This can mean anything from insensitive repairs to thoughtless removal of original features and ill-considered extensions. They’re all things that an experienced building services professional can help with.

Here’s how London chartered surveyors help

Whether you’re considering a purchase in Hampstead, or want to restore a property that you already own in Wimbledon, RICS-accredited London surveyors can help you understand all manor of roof-related issues and do the following:

Give you more negotiating power.
Help you avoid the cost and hassle of a ‘bad buy’.
Give you valuable understanding about the scope of works needed on a property.

Save money; enjoy priceless peace of mind

Having a building survey in London, as anywhere else, is really about the following: helping you save money; helping you make money; and above all the peace of mind that comes from being properly informed and avoiding the stress caused by nasty roof surprises. That peace of mind, as we all know, is a priceless gift. It’s out of all proportion to the cost of employing a good surveyor.

So what kind of roof-related issues will London surveyors be able to help you with? So many of the following seem so obvious when they are in front of you in black and white. But in the excitement of a property purchase, with your mind on a hundred and one other things as well as the biggest purchase of your life, it’s easy to overlook these. And their implications for other aspects of the property’s condition. You need a chartered surveyor. London property is expensive enough to buy without the added worry of unexpected costs once contracts are exchanged.

Send your surveyor up on that roof

Fortunately, building surveyors in London know the capital’s property almost as well as they know their own back gardens! They’ll know exactly what to look for in the kind of property you’re considering.

Mortar joints and flashing

Neglect of deteriorated mortar joints or flashing around roof features such as parapets, ridges and chimney stacks can lead to serious damage – very often hard to see. Similarly, where original lead flashing has been replaced by ‘quick and easy’ mortar wedges. And for property that was originally built with breathable lime-based mortars of an earlier age, what effects have modern, cement-based mortars had? Or sub-standard repairs to chimney stacks or roofs themselves due to unsympathetic workmanship.

Fascia boards

Minor details like ornate, but deteriorated, Victorian fascia boards can mean costly, inconvenient works when you should be enjoying your new home. They’re easily overlooked because of their height on the building. But a building surveyor in London who has grown up professionally with these properties will see more than just neglected fascia boards. They’ll pick up clues about leaking roofs and gutters that can save you a lot of money.

The effects of new roof materials on old roofs

Please also consider the effects, probably over decades, of replacing lightweight original slates with heavier materials such as concrete roof tiles – roof spread, for instance. Again, an untrained person could easily miss the effects on roof timbers, whether earlier cut-timber or the engineered roof trusses that started being used in Victorian times.

Aside from the possibilities of neglected infestation, your surveyor will look for problems caused by insufficient roof support. Would you even know if purlins are overloaded? Or what can, and should, be done to remedy this? And what if you need to jack the roof and prop the purlins? Done correctly, this could put a problem right. But done wrong… Can you see pound signs – and not the nice ones – flashing before you?

Where old meets new

Last but not least, let’s not forget what often happens where an original main roof meets a later extension. Poor-quality flashing is an obvious risk; less obvious are the long-term consequences of overloading guttering and downpipes.

London surveyors understand local challenges

Another advantage of using the services of a local (i.e. London) Property Services professional? They will understand site-specific, and even aspect-related problems in different parts of the London and its surrounds.

As part of our structural survey on your London property, we’ll help you to understand the condition of that roof and the cost of maintaining and repairing it. If it’s been neglected, we’ll advise accordingly. That way, we’ll spare you from (or at least prepare you for) later expenditure.

Surveyors give you the gift of peace of mind

It’s all part of the service. From full structural surveys to acting as specialist party wall surveyors or advising on roofing and other property issues in conservation areas, the best building surveyors in London add value and give you peace of mind. How? By really understanding the finer points of the design, construction and heritage of London’s heritage of London’s rooftops.

Is it time to talk to your London surveyor?

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