A roof is the hat of your home. The purpose of a hat is to give you and your head some form of protection from the elements, but a hat is also a statement of your sense of style, fashion and in some ways, your very own personality. It is exactly the same with the roof of your home. If the design of your roof doesn’t quite suit the style, look and personality of the home that sits beneath it then the place you live in will feel slightly uncomfortable and awkward, even embarrassed about its external appearance. I’m sure there has been a moment in your life when a friend has encouraged you to try on an item of clothing that is daring and completely outside of your comfort zone. You desperately want to be brave enough to buy it, but somehow it always manages to go back onto the shelf. You just cannot bring yourself to wear it. Well I’m afraid; it is exactly the same with the roof of your home. The design, style, form, shape, proportion and materiality of a roof can make or break the look of a building.
Probably the most common roof in the UK is the pitched roof, which is used on the majority of our terraced homes and on detached homes with gable ends to the sides. Or the sides are pitched too, at an angle, this form of roof is known as a hipped roof, which is more common on semi-detached properties. The flat roof became the roof of choice for the modernists, where the building form has been stripped back to the absolute minimum. Some argue that by using a flat roof the building has been stripped of its personality. ‘Where is the building’s hat?’ was the cry of the traditionalists. Unfortunately, flat roof technology throughout the 20th century wasn’t as good as it should have been, so many of us in the wet and windy UK climate associate flat roofs with cold and damp leaky classrooms and Portakabins in the school playground. Although, in the 21st century, flat roof technology is now so much more advanced, the image and reputation of flat roofs in the UK hasn’t fully recovered.
The roof that I grew up with was the mono-pitched roof. This was a shallow pitched single plane roof that sat over the top of our 1970s-built council house. Apart from the fact that it was absolutely freezing, as there wasn’t a single fibre of insulation up there, generally speaking it performed its role pretty well. Forty-odd years after it was first built there still isn’t any sign that it has leaked. Replacing a roof is a big step and is not a cheap thing to do if it’s done properly. There are no hard and fast rules about when a roof should be replaced as it depends on its style, how well it was originally built, how much poor weather it has endured or the lack of maintenance. But, when I’m carrying out a major refurbishment on a home my absolute priority is to strip back the old roof to its original timbers and install a new roof with top spec insulation, protective membranes, new lead flashings and new tiles. Having a new roof then gives you complete peace of mind that all of the new work that you are carrying out inside of the building is properly protected for years to come. It’s also good to know that when a reputable roofing contractor replaces a roof that you are covered by a long term insurance backed guarantee scheme just in case something does go wrong in future.
If you are replacing a roof like-for-like, so it is the same design, style and similar tile to the original roof then you often don’t require planning permission. If you live in a conservation area or in a listed building you may still need planning, so don’t do any work without checking with your local planning officer what you can and can’t do under the planning rules. Replacing a roof also gives you the opportunity to do something different. This is definitely the time to think about adding a loft room to give yourself more space. Adding space, especially if the loft room becomes another bedroom, often adds value to your home so it’s a good way of making your money back on the investment you’ve made to upgrade the roof finish. There are also opportunities to install skylights, which can completely transform the look and feel of your home. A skylight provides 30% more natural light than a vertical window of the same size and as there are so many standard skylights on the market they are incredibly affordable. You’ll be amazed at how your home will be improved by opening up your ceiling and placing a skylight over the top of your existing staircase. The transformation is incredible!
My biggest tip regarding your roof is never compromise on the standard and amount of insulation you install. If your budget can handle it, go for the maximum amount of insulation you can afford with the best thermal performance. Around 25% of all heat lost from your home is via the roof so please invest in the best insulation you can. It will make an enormous difference to the comfort levels of your home, while at the same time saving you a small fortune on your energy bills. Replacing your existing roof can be a costly thing to do, but if you are planning to live in your current home for many years to come, it is an investment well worth making.
For more tips and advice from George, check out his website at www.georgeclarke.co.uk