Solar panels – what lurks beneath?

Solar panels are more popular than ever but for older installations carried out for “free”  there have been problems resulting from inadvertent long term leases on rented roofs, problems with future sales, remortgages and a few other things that people didn’t think about.

solar panel problems found on a building survey

We have a couple of other concerns too.

Firstly, the strength of the roof. Many older roofs may be undersized, especially if the original slates have been replaced with concrete tiles and no strengthening has been introduced. And more modern prefabricated roofs may have been designed down to minimum loading standards. Care needs to be taken when the panels are fixed and designed.

Then, the weathering, the solar panels are usually fixed to a bracket that is fixed to the rafters – often by removing tiles or slates and whilst there are some excellent fixings and weathering we have come across some shockers.

Where a roof is rented to a solar company, they may then become an “owner” for the purposes of the Party Wall etc Act and will need to be served with party wall notices even if the work is unrelated – for instance a ground floor extension! Some work may affect them, however. A loft conversion for instance, that affects the party wall onto which they have fixed any of their fancy boxes…

And, presumably insurers will need to know about the installation and may vary terms accordingly because of the joint interest.

We’ll be checking for this on our property surveys and party wall jobs from now on. But, if you’re worried, give us a call – 020 8295 1200.

(Originally published by Steven Way, 27 March 2012)