Problems with Re-roof

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    Problems with Re-roof

    I own a Victorian terrace BTL which had a knackered slate roof. I accepted an estimate from a contractor recommended by the managing agent for a re-roof. The estimate drew attention to a number of changes eg a dry, maintenance free joint on the ridge tiles, use of substitute lead flashing. The work has been completed, and I have discovered that the slate roof has been replaced with 'Marley Moderns' - a man made concrete tile of similar colour, but much thicker and larger. I now understand this is cheaper to use and lay, and the original slate had some resale value.

    I am completely shocked by this - it never occurred to me that anyone would 're-roof' by replacing anything other than like for like, and I find it utterly bizarre that other relatively minor changes are referenced in the estimate, but this major change isn't. The roofer maintains he has done the work estimated for, as it stated materials used meet the correct BS standard etc, and that materials used were to 'be agreed' (which they weren't!), with samples available on request.

    I'm a long term owner, and would have been willing to have paid more for a natural slate roof had I been offered the choice.

    My objections are 1) the tiles used have a considerably shorter lifespan than natural slate 2) they change the original appearance of the property, which is one of the appeals of it to me and, presumably, future purchasers.

    Does anyone have any views on where I stand on this, and what I can do to resolve?

    Many thanks

    What did the specification say? What, other than the price, did the quote say?

    If you want something specific, especially if it is a more expensive option, you need to provide a detailed specification. That may involve paying a surveyor to produce it.


      The quote said 'strip defective roof tiles to be laid style and colour to be agreed', which is why I didn't question it, and I didn't agree to anything - but the work was being done at distance through an agent. It mentioned a number of differences eg in the ridge tiles, use of plastic verges and lead substitute flashing, but not the fact natural slate was being replaced with man made tiles, which I find disingenuous. It simply never occurred to me that a reroof would entail anything other than like for like replacement, unless the quote made this clear.


        Originally posted by mgt View Post
        - but the work was being done at distance through an agent..
        I have found that tradespeople, and to a degree Agents, view any work to be done on a tenanted property as a job to be done as cheaply as possible. It's probably because most landlords just want to fix the house and get it let as quickly and cheaply as possible. I imagine there is quite a difference in costs between what was actually done and what you wished had been done - and I guess the agent just used his contact to do the usual job. I had this issue with my houses frequently particularly with tradesmen who would say " it's only students so that will do" and that attitude pervaded every transaction and I am surprised you haven't experienced it before.

        If you had used a surveyor I guess that he would be adding at least another 10% to the price


          TBF this agent is pretty good, but agree tradesmen do seem to think rental properties merit a lesser job, although they often tell me 'most landlords don't want to spend too much'. In this case the problem is that I never for a moment considered any reputable contractor would do anything other than like for like, certainly without making this clear, or offering it as a (cheaper) option. I don't regard the price for what has been done as cheap!


            Beware the effect these "modern" tiles may have on the roof timbers.

            We had a similar job passed off on the roof of a let property some years ago: welsh slates replaced with concrete tiles, invisible from ground level because of an intervening parapet concealing the "london roof" arrangement.

            The roof timbers were not strong enough to bear the additional weight of the new tiles, and the end result was that the end wall (of this end of terrace house) was pushed outwards by the heavy tiles.

            It had to be rebuilt, very expensive and not covered by the insurance.


              Bluebonnie's warning is important and useful. If the roof isn't strong enough for the new tiles, you probably have a claim against the roofing contractor under the Supply of Goods and Services Act 1982. As this requires the goods to be fit for their purpose AND the service to be done with reasonable care and skill. The tiles are too heavy for the roof (so not fit for purpose) and the roofing contractor didn't select a tile that was suitable for the roof structure (so insufficient care and/or skill was used).

              However, this turns on whether the roof is in fact strong enough for the tiles or not. You need a Chartered Surveyor to review the roof structure and write a report. Most Surveyors will come out and inspect the situation for an agreed price (£300-£400) and only charge (extra) for the time to write the report if they need to put their findings in writing.

              If the roof is strong enough, you are on shakier ground. The contract gives you the right to participate in the decision about what tiles were fitted, but you can't expect to delay a roofing contractor by taking an unreasonable amount of time over deciding. Both you and the contractor are equally at fault in not agreeing the choice of tile (unless the contract makes one of you responsble for driving the decision). The choice of tiles or slates has a significant impact on cost. £5000 for modern tiles vs £15000 for best Welsh slate. So it should have been apparent to you (as a property professional) that you needed to specify the tiles you wanted because there is so much choice and it has such an impact on the price. I think a judge in court would accept the contractors assertion that it was more important to you than him what tiles were fitted (providing they were not heavy for the roof) such that a failure to drive the decision is your fault. It's a tough decision for the judge, but I would not like to have to argue your case.


                I wanted to write something more about how to remedy the situation:

                Best approach to remedying the situation is likely to be get the structural report done asap, if the tiles are too heavy, negotiate with the contractor to strip the roof and install the correct slates. I expect you will have to pay for the new slates. The newly removed tiles will have a value, so agree who will be responsible for attempting to resell them. I expect the contractor will only agree to you being responsible, but if you accept this with good grace, he might well find a buyer via his contacts or eventually find a way to use them on a future job. As he would (IMHO) be likely to lose in court, he should really cover the cost of stripping the roof and relaying it, but I would suggest that you empathise with him on how difficult this would be for his business and offer to pay him, say, 50% of the cost of his original labour to "try to help him out". In reality, you are really doing it to keep him sweet - the last thing you want is for him to reroof the property with slates that are right for it but do a shoddy job because he is angry with you. Unfortunately, this route will cost you perhaps 80% of the cost of the reroofing, until you can sell in the removed tiles, and you may not be able to afford this. Going to court might be cheaper but it might also turn out more expensive.

                If the tiles aren't too heavy, you will have to decide whether to risk going to court, or accept the situation gracefully.


                  Many years since I reroofed a slate roof - but I used artificial slate then, Welsh slate was ridiculously expensive and therefore only likely to used for listed buildings. The old slates certainly had value. If the tiles are too heavy and the roof needs to be stripped fibre cement slates are light.and what I would have expected to be used. The quote mentioned stripping "defective roof tiles" and replacing them with tiles - no mention of slates, that should have been a warning. I'd have expected new felt and battens to be required - and to be mentioned too. If not mentioned check the felt.


                    Does anyone roof in Welsh slate these days except mainly on listed buildings? I have had experience of Chinese slate in the 1980's ( irregular thickness) and synthetic slate which is pretty good IMO. Marley moderns are heavy and do check out your joists but the closed ridge system that can be fitted with them is very good.

                    You did not get enough spec from the roofer. Ask for your old slates back (yeah he has sold them) and threaten small claims action or a settlement. I think you might win at court but it is hassle.

                    Freedom at the point of zero............


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