Roofers - what you need to know
Roofers will work on a variety of different structural roofs, including flat, slate and tiled, metal and thatched roofs. Most of the work they do is aimed at protecting your home from the elements so that water can’t get inside and cause damp. They’ll carry out jobs like replacing lead sheeting, re-slating and tiling a roof. They can also fit new guttering and deal with the rainwater pipe to make sure that water’s not running down the outside wall of a home and damaging the structure. As well as protecting your home by carrying out repair work, they can also help you get more natural light inside by fitting a skylight window in a converted loft or above a kitchen island.
What a roofer can help with
- Repairing or building a chimney(s).
- Re-slating and tiling a roof.
- Replacing fascias, soffits or cladding.
- Fitting Velux or skylight windows.
- Replacing lead sheeting.
- Fitting new guttering or rainwater pipes.
To inspect the roof, it needs to be looked at from both the inside and outside. If you can see sunlight coming through a gap in the loft, you might be missing a roof tile or slate. A water stain in the loft can be a sign of a roof covering problem, and other parts of the roof, like flashing and chimney stacks can cause leaks when damaged which you should be able to spot from the street with a decent pair of binoculars. Because of this, the roof should be inspected twice a year – once in summer when you can take advantage of the sunlight and once in autumn/winter, as it’s easier to spot a leaking roof after it’s been raining.
How can I tell if my roof needs repairing or replacing?
Flat roofs tend to have a slope or pitch of less than 10 degrees and have a reputation for leaks. Sometimes the gradient isn’t steep enough meaning that it can sag and allow rainwater to pool on the roof, before making its way into the room below. If a roof’s more than 20 years old, it’s probably due to be replaced. Newer roofs can still get damaged which is why they should be inspected twice a year. Thatch roofs tend to last a lot longer – between 20 and 70 years – however they face additional fire risks. To reduce this risk, you should have chimney stacks inspected and sweep the chimney regularly.
Costs for common roofing jobs
We surveyed our tradespeople to give you an idea of the amount you can expect to pay for common roofing jobs. The costs below are an approximate national average and based on a 3-bedroom property.
|Some typical jobs
|New flat roof (where the roof’s the main roof)
|New slate/tiled roof (where the roof’s the main roof)
|Flat roof repairs (pooling water)
|Slate/tiled roof repairs (missing or slipped slates/tiles)
Different types of roofs
- Flat roof.
- Slate and tiled roof.
- Thatched roof.
- Zinc/metal roof.
If there’s a leak in my roof, does the whole roof need to be replaced?
Whether your roof needs replacing depends on the location of the leak. It might look like there’s a leak in one place but water can make its way to a different part of the roof. If there’s a leak, a roofer will be able to determine what needs doing. Often, it’s the flashing and not the roofing material itself that’s damaged, so a roof may only need to be swapped for a new one if it’s old and likely to need replacing sometime soon.
Planning permission for roofing jobs
Roofs can be altered without planning permission as long as:
- The alteration is no more than 150 mm from the existing roof pane.
- The alteration isn’t higher than the highest part of the roof.
There are different rules that apply when you extend or alter a roof beyond these conditions. They come under "the enlargement of a dwelling house consisting of an addition or alteration to its roof" and tend to apply to loft conversions. You can find more information on these rules and rules for other projects at the Planning Portal.
Building regulations for roofing jobs
If you want to repair or re-cover less than 25% of a pitch or flat roof, you won’t normally need to submit a building regulations application but you will need approval if:
- You’re altering the structure of the roof.
- The performance of the new covering will be significantly different to the performance of the existing covering in the event of a fire.
- You’re replacing or repairing more than 25% of the roof’s area as the roof thermal insulation will usually have to be improved.
Info correct at time of publishing, head to the Planning Portal to check the most up to date information.
Insurance for roofing work
There’s no legal obligation for roofers to be insured but many choose to purchase public liability insurance so they’re covered in the case of an injury or accidental damage to a property.
Questions you should ask a roofer
- How long have they been trading?
- What experience do they have of carrying out similar work?
- Will they supply the materials for the job?
- Do they have public liability insurance and what does this cover?
- Will they be carrying out the job themselves or sub-contracting it? If the job’s being carried out by someone else, what experience do they have and are they covered by insurance?
- Will they give a guarantee/warranty for the work and how long does this last?
See the latest questions that homeowners have been asking roofers.
Find more tips on protecting your home from water damage and how to maintain your roof in spring and autumn. For design tips, discover how to increase your home’s natural light with skylights.