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The roof over your head...

12th May 2015

When buying a property, sometimes the excitement of the purchase can cloud your judgement. After all, when you’re standing in front of your “dream home”, it is difficult to think about the implications of cracked roof tiles and poorly designed flat roofs. However, without knowing the condition of a property, how can you be sure that what you’re buying is truly up to the standard you expect?

Major roof repairs and replacements can be notoriously expensive due to the price of materials, the cost of the labour involved and access issues, which is the last thing you need after moving into a new home.

A Home Condition Survey is a survey dedicated to reporting on the condition of a property, helping homebuyers to protect their investment. Research into SAVA Home Condition Surveys carried out in England and Wales has shown that 49% of all properties surveyed were reported to require a repair of some kind to part of their roof covering. This means that almost half of clients who requested a Home Condition Survey on a property they were buying found that the roof was in need of some attention – information which would not have been available had the client relied solely on a property valuation.

As you might expect, on average, the newer the property the better the condition of the roof, but even modern properties are susceptible to damage and wear (and often this damage is not easily visible if you’re unsure of what to look for). Our research shows that, whilst it is true that properties built over 20 years ago are more likely to require repair work (with 45% needing some form of repair work), over a quarter of homes built since 1995 were also in need of repair – so it is not enough to simply assume a roof is not defective just by looking at the date of construction.

Chart shows that 26% of properties built since 1995 required repair.

And what about flat roofs?

Studies have shown that 43% of all houses with a flat roof surveyed needed some form of repair to that flat roof.


Despite its name, a flat roof should never be flat. To aid water run-off and prevent water pooling, flat roofs should still have a slight gradient. Without this, they are susceptible to weakening and pooling water will eventually find its way through any tiny cracks or perforations. Jeff Howel from the Telegraph explains, “The main problem with flat-roof repairs is not usually choosing the material for the weatherproof covering, but diagnosing why it leaked in the first place. Many British flat roofs are too flat and built with inadequate structural materials, so they sag in the middle, allowing rainwater to pond, which then finds its way through any pinprick imperfection.” [i]

Without arranging a detailed inspection, you could be purchasing a property with:

  • Rainwater leakage due to missing or damaged roof tiles or poor construction which could damage property and rapidly lead to further deterioration, even causing a safety hazard if the leak occurs near the electrics.
  • A weakened roof structure where time and weather have not been so kind to the roof timbers
  • Unwanted house guests in the loft space such as bats and squirrels who will exploit weak spots in the roof, soffits and fascias to gain access. And removing animals from your loft is no easy feat, even for professionals, particularly when a protected species, such as bats, have decided to take up residence in your home.

A defective roof can be devastating, so why take the risk?

Residential surveyors are trained to carry out a non-invasive inspection of the property you wish to buy with a view to report on its condition. If you commission a surveyor offering a Home Condition Survey then you also know that the surveyor will literally climb into the roof space and inspect it in great detail (so long as it is safe to do so). This will give you the opportunity to make your decision about how to proceed with the property on more than just face value.

And just because the inspection is non-invasive does not mean it is not thorough. Many surveyors are now embracing new technologies and are able to access the roof safely using 4K cameras and poles. Some surveyors are even licensed to fly drones which can take detailed photographs and video footage of the roof to check for visible signs of damage.

No property is perfect, but there is considerable value in knowing its imperfections before you commit to buy.

Be smart. Be sure. Get a condition survey.



Be confident of the condition of your new home

Our Home Condition Surveys start from £300

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Buying a property can be very stressful. Decisions involving huge amounts of money, technical information, legal wrangling, and deadlines all demand your attention and most of them are outside your control or experience. The feeling of uncertainty can be overwhelming. We recognise that feeling!

Investing in a Home Condition Survey will reduce at least part of the anxiety. Be confident that your new home is not a nightmare in disguise because a trained and audited professional has thoroughly examined every nook and cranny, followed up every suspect symptom, and assessed the work you will need to do to keep the place in good condition.

"A good report and money well spent. I will definitely be referring the surveyor's details onto friends, family and relatives who may be purchasing a property soon."