Is the roofer just trying to save money?
Laura G from Bristol
Surveying Advice questions and answers
I have recently had a dormer roof fixed by some Trustmark roofers. I had a chartered surveyor conduct a report before the work and in it he said if the work lasts less than 15-20 years it'll be down to poor initial workmanship. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to contact said surveyor as yet. I've asked the roofers for an Insurance Backed Guarantee and I've been promised a 10 year version of this. Surely the IBG would be for between 15-20 years? If not, why not? I am disabled and unemployed so the money raised to cover 15-20 years needs to cover 15-20 years. Is the roofer trying to save money?
The role of guarantees in respect of residential property is often poorly understood. There are three main areas of construction where a guarantee may be relevant.
The first is the well-known NHBC guarantee for all new properties, which runs for a period of ten years and is primarily to deal with major structural settlement due to foundation movement.
The second type of guarantee relates to damp-proofing works, where cowboy builders offer a 'guarantee', which is meant to provide some remedy, should a chemical damp-proof course, together with its associated plastering, break down. However, these guarantees are virtually worthless, as often the firms go out of business and re-emerge weeks later under a different name. In over 30 years in the property business, I have never known one of these guarantees successfully enforced.
The third type of guarantee often relates to roof works, and is significantly misunderstood. A competent roofing firm, where works have been supervised by a building surveyor, should not need to provide a guarantee. Confirmation that a roof will provide satisfactory service into the future is provided by utilising a proper specification of works, with a capable contractor, and with the works adequately supervised on site. Any guarantee offered by a roofing firm is often a PR sop, and is invariably issued by firms whose standard of workmanship is poor, with the work on site having been unsupervised. They offer it essentially as a selling gimmick. The only way that a roof can be guaranteed to have a life expectancy of, say, 50 years, which should be the case to any roof that has been tiled or slated, is in the quality of the original workmanship, carried out by a capable roofer who has been supervised on site by a surveyor. Without this supervision, confirming that the works have been carried out to a good standard, any guarantee is again, almost worthless.
Trying to enforce a guarantee if the roof breaks down, would involve the services of an expert which would be expensive. Should the roofing firm still exist, they would provide a professional, and this would lead to a difference of opinion and possibly a legal remedy being sought. The result of this would be hugely expensive and out of all proportion to the cost of any remedial works.
Stephen Howes, James Ross & Co
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