Roof construction advantages and disadvantages

When deciding on the roof structure for either a new build or for an extension it is important to consider the advantages and disadvantages of each to see which is most suitable for your needs.

The pitch of the roof is particularly important, and regulations vary depending on the country your property is in as the pitch will need to be different dependent upon the weather and rainfall in that country. In the UK we experience a considerable amount of rain and so the roof needs to have a certain pitch to enable the rainwater to flow away adequately however in countries with little rainfall the pitch of the roof does not need to be as steep.

Many builders use flat roofs for extensions and single storey properties mainly because they are cheaper and easier to install however the life of a traditional felted flat roof is only about ten to fifteen years so it will need regularly replacing. A rubberised flat roof will have a much longer life and so would be a better alternative if a flat roof is to be used.

With the growing concern over global warming some people are choosing so called green roofs as an option. These roofs are planted with types of grass and even wildflowers and continually grow which does involve some regular maintenance work to be carried out, but it is an excellent way to provide habitats and food for insects.

Choosing the best roofing contractor

If you have an older property especially if it is a listed building and have issues with the roof it is vital that you choose a roofing contractor who is experienced in dealing with heritage roofs. This is not just for properties with thatched roofs but for those with tiled roofs too some of which may have handmade tiles on the roof.

A search on the internet for heritage roofing contractors will provide the names of companies who specialise in this type of roof restoration so you will be able to begin your research here. It is very important that you choose a reputable contractor for your roofing needs, but how can you be sure that your contractor is up to the job?

Reading reviews from previous customers is one way to find out whether the company is dependable and trustworthy. It may be that you can also talk to previous customers if that is appropriate.

There are national heritage roofing contractors’ registers that can be scrutinised to find a contractor in your area and these companies have usually been vetted and can be used with some confidence on your property as only roofing companies with suitably qualified operatives at the level of Roof Master, Craft Roofer or Craft Roofer Operative are listed on the National Heritage Roofing Contractors Register as heritage companies.

Is a light tunnel suitable for my roof construction?

If you are renovating a property or building from scratch you may need to bring more daylight into a specific area and so a light tunnel, sometimes referred to as a sky tunnel could be a good solution. In most situations they can be installed into any roof structure with the exception of thatched roofs. Installing a light tunnel into the external roof surface is similar installing roof windows or Velux windows, so is not a major task for either a professional or a competent homeowner who is used to some simple construction work.

The way that a light tunnel works is by directing sunlight down a reflective tunnel into an area which would previously only have been lit with normal lighting. As any lighting that is provided by a light tunnel is free and does not require any energy to run it is truly environmentally friendly and therefore popular with anyone concerned with reducing their carbon footprint.

Light tunnels offer a great solution to the problem of getting natural light into internal window-less rooms in properties, for example in an added bathroom or utility room. This solves the problem of having to design your renovations keeping in mind that there needs to be a window in the room.

Reduce your carbon footprint and install a green roof

Many people are talking about the issue of climate change and how we as individuals can do something to reduce our carbon footprint in some way. One of the quite innovative ways that people are considering is installing a green roof. The term is used to describe a roof that is seeded, and which grows some variety of grass on its surface and sometimes meadow flowers too. A green roof is more easily installed on new builds in conservation areas but can be introduced on any suitable roof area. They can more commonly be seen on flat roofs, but it is possible to have a seeded green roof on one with a low pitch.

One of the first things to check before you embark on this project is to establish whether there are any council permissions that need to be sought beforehand. Due to the weight of the soil layer on an existing roof structure it could be that the property will need to be checked structurally by a building surveyor before work can proceed.

As long as the relevant authorities are happy for you to install the green roof the next decision will be who to employ to conduct the work. Most people get three quotes which is common practice and ask for references from past clients. Viewing other projects that the company have completed is also advisable.

Maintenance of a thatched roof

If you are fortunate enough to own a property with a thatched roof, the care, maintenance and repair of this type of roof will determine the durability of it. As the cost of replacing a thatched roof is extremely high, preventive care and maintenance is of great importance. If the roof is damaged by birds or by the elements immediate action can reduce the costs involved. For instance, a crack in the masonry of the ridge is easily fixed. However, if you fail to act quickly then water can penetrate the roof and can cause further damage.

Algae, moss and fungi are considered to be the main cause of damage on thatched roofs, so the control of algae and moss needs to be part of the ongoing maintenance.

It is recommended that a thatched roof is cleaned and re-tightened once a year. This ongoing maintenance is essential to the durability of the thatch. A roof that is covered with leaves, moss and algae needs more time to dry than a clean roof. The wet, damp conditions of an uncleaned roof does in turn promote the growth of fungi which affects the thatching reed.

A thatched roof ideally should be cleaned by hand. With the help of different types of rake, the roof can be cleared of leaves and moss during a dry spell as the moss is easier to remove in these conditions.