A Guide to Roof Surveys - What is included?

There are a variety of reasons you might need a roof survey. 

The most likely is that you have a leak, structural or other damage that needs to be professionally assessed – almost certainly, if you are making a claim on your home insurance to repair or replace your roof, you will need a survey conducted to provide evidence from an independent source. The same will be the case if you live in a leasehold property and need to present evidence that work is required by the freeholder. 

You might be planning a project that involves work on your roof so you need to make sure that the roof is in a fit state for the project to be a success, and you don’t want any surprises once you start. 

It might just be the simple fact that the roof covering is old and you need it assessing.

Whatever the reason, a roof survey will provide you with trusted advice on what action, if any, needs to be taken. 

Top 7 roof survey requests received by Collier Stevens in Kent and London

  1. Flat roof problems. We often see problems associated with water leaks from rainwater collecting on the top of flat roofs. These can be exacerbated by defective and life-expired coverings, poor falls, inadequate flashings and detailing, or poor repairs.
  2. Pitched roof problems. Failing tiles and slates are a common issue on pitched roofs. Concealed roof pitches, or inverted roof pitches with valley gutters (where two pitched roofs join together, essentially) are also problematic and we mainly see water leakage with these. Defective flashings, especially at the base of chimneys, are also a big culprit for water ingress.
  3. Chimney problems. Damaged pots, beds, pointing, brickwork, flashings, are all associated with water getting inside your house 
  4. Roof structure. We are often asked to assess the capability of the joists and trusses for supporting replacement coverings. We also see missing timbers, decay and wood worm.
  5. Specialist roofs. Our roof surveys are often related to the popular Kent peg tiling which are fragile and prone to frost damage. We look for any damaged tiles as once any of the internal clay is exposed, the damage will get worse each year eventually causing the tile to break.
  6. Solar panels. Sometimes we are asked to give advice on whether a roof is capable of supporting solar panels in the future, or to simply assess the roof for any problems that may need fixing before panels are installed.
  7. Loft conversions. When an owner has a loft conversion it is often a chance to have any required repairs made to the roof and we will be asked to do a roof survey. Some people also ask for a roof survey to ensure a loft conversion is viable.

What does Collier Stevens look for in a roof survey?

Our roof surveys include assessment of the following:

  • The roof covering – tiles, slate, Kent peg, asbestos – its condition and any defects, life span, replacement options, and your budget
  • Skylights and any potential for leaks
  • Solar panel installation
  • Chimney flashings, pointing, loose pots, brickwork
  • Insulation
  • Underlays and sarking felts
  • Through ventilation
  • Facias and soffits
  • Joists, rafters, purlins and the structure
  • Gutters and drainage

How do you do a roof survey?

We start by visually inspecting the roof from the ground level. A basic survey will be conducted using binoculars, but we do have a licensed drone operator. If drones are allowed in the area and this thorough inspection is required, or it is the only way to view the roof, we can use a drone. 

If the property has scaffolding and safe access is permitted, we will climb that to assess the roof. If the building is not too high, we can use a 12ft surveyors ladder. We also have pole cameras to survey flat roofs and single storey roofs.

We inspect the inside of your roof where there is a safe access hatch, 

Do you need to access next door to do a roof survey?

Not generally. If your neighbour has a window that overlooks the roof concerned, then it could be helpful if we can take a look from there, but this would need permission prior to us attending.

As licensed drone operators we will often conduct an external inspection with a drone enabling us to get up close to the roofs and chimneys. It’s not always possible to fly the drone (weather, flight restrictions, airports etc) but if we think we can we will discuss this with you.

What do you look for in a roofing survey?

Our surveyor looks for any visible damage, such as missing or damaged slates, tiles, or pegs; or loose or missing flashing. We look in  the gutters for any debris or buildup, which could indicate a blockage that can cause water damage.

If we can access the inside of the roof we can also assess the interior for evidence of external damage. We can do this by peering through the loft hatch before turning the light on to see if any daylight is getting in through any holes. Then we’ll switch the light on (if there is one), or use a torch, to inspect fully for damage such as water stains or dampness on the ceiling or walls.  We then look at the roof structure itself – is there any damage to rafters and joists, are there any bowing timbers, etc?

We also check for signs of moisture buildup or mould growth in the loft space as this could be a sign of poor ventilation or insulation methods. We can check moisture levels in timbers with a damp meter.

What if my roof has solar panels? How can you see defects?

Where a roof is covered with solar panels, it can be difficult for surveyors to inspect the exterior of roof slates and tiles, but we can draw strong conclusions from the surrounding visible coverings. Hopefully any issues with a roof would have been resolved before the panels were installed and the panels will act as further protection against the weather for the roof. 

Regular checks, especially after bad weather

We recommend any homeowner regular checks their roof to help identify potential problems before they become bigger issues. Take a look once a year, if you are able to, especially after heavy rain or strong winds, to make sure everything looks intact.

If you find any signs of damage to your roof you should get a professional roof survey – spending a relatively small amount on a survey now, to assess any full damage and remediation requirements will be better than what could become increasingly expensive the longer you wait. 

If you would like a roof survey in the Kent and London area get in touch with us for a free, no obligation quote.

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