A roofer placed an emergency patch on a hole on my roof and it works perfectly. Can I postpone getting further works done?

February 2014

Question

A hole in my pitched roof was causing leaks and damp patches inside the house. A roofer looked at it and advised extensive works to fix the problem, but also kindly put an emergency patch on the hole and said this would keep it dry for a while. It has.

The leak has stopped, the damp has disappeared. I’m now thinking that this patch could last for years, and that the leak is fixed for now. I’m inclined to just pay the roofer for his trouble, and postpone the bigger job until the damp patches reappear or I win the Lotto, whichever comes first. Good or bad idea?

Answer

This is a bad idea. I would not advise leaving this patch repair to the main roof of your property until the damp reappears. Even though the previous damp staining has now disappeared, the leak may still be occurring and damaging other elements of the roof, ie timber battens or rafters. Prolonged exposure of water ingress of this nature can lead to wet/dry rot in timbers, which then becomes costly to remedy.

Extensive works to a pitched roof usually entail that the existing roof covering (which is usually slate, concrete tile, clay tile or even thatch) is nearing the end of its life span and requires wholesale replacement. It may also mean that movement to the roof structure has occurred due to excessive loadings, timbers are decaying due to woodworm infestation and/or wet or dry rot, or the roofing felt has perished and requires replacement.

A good example of this is replacing roof slates with concrete tiles on old buildings. The concrete tiles are heavier than slates and, if structural strengthen works to the roof structure is not done beforehand, structural movement of the roof structure may occur, causing further damage. To rectify the above mentioned examples would be deemed “extensive works”.

I would therefore suggest obtaining a second opinion from an appropriately qualified professional such as a chartered building surveyor. They will be best placed to advise you on what the cause of the water ingress is and what the extent of the repair works are. They will also be able to provide budget costs accordingly, and make recommendations for reputable roofers.

If you chose to do nothing, I can safely say the damp staining will re-occur before you win the Lotto!

Michael Ferry is a member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland , scsi.ie