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2004-08-11: We are having a new roof installed, and were strongly recommended Mark Ryan (he trades as Lonsdale Roofing (01723 503314)) by a friend who is a quality builder. We're about halfway through the project and so far so very good. He's a nice guy, and the longer it goes on the more confidence I've got in the new roof.
Our roof .. beforeYou know how it is, our roof's been leaking and giving damp patches for years and we've claimed on the insurance for storm damage and had slates put back and all the chimney stacks re-leaded. All, pretty much, to no avail. So you'll forgive me if I'm not excited about getting a new roof. To start with, if I think about what I really feel about this, past experiences have set up an expectation that this won't work, that the new roof will be as problematic as the old, and we'll have spent our money and still not got any peace of mind. Not only that, if it doesn't, I'll have done everything I can to make it work, so I'll be at the end of my roof road.
Removing our old roof, showing the foam underneathIn 1992 the previous owners had had the roof sprayed underneath with foam by Roof-Tek in Weston-super-Mare, who still seem to be in business. I know I sound surprised, but there you go. I only came across their guarantee after we'd committed to having the roof re-done (but it wouldn't have changed our minds). It guarantees the foam will "perform its function satisfactorily in that it will prevent snow or rain ingress and prevent tiles or slates from slippage for a period of 25 years". Well, it didn't. We've had countless slates slip off, and I can think of three places where we've put pots and pans to collect drips. Mark says what often happens is the roof isn't repaired before it's sprayed, so the tiles get fixed into their bad and leaky positions. Every roofer who's worked on the roof has hated the foam treatment. They sigh and swear and mumble about roofs having to breathe.
The new fabric that goes underneath the tilesOnce the slates are removed, a breathable but waterproof fabric goes up, pinned by the horizontal wooden slats. After this came two days of torrential rain. Actually, the main storm came overnight. We sleep in the roofspace and slept right through it. The first I knew about it was when I went running the next morning, and the force of the water had lifted the personhole covers off all the drains around North bay and created gulleys across the beach to the sea. The roof fabric was watertight. Our new roof, consisting of just that fabric, was more watertight than our old fully tiled, sprayed and guaranteed roof. Wow.
So now I'm getting excited. Now I'm thinking, well, I'm happy with the roof as it is :-) How much better will it be with tiles on? Maybe, just maybe, this could be good. Watch this (roof)space.

By John Allsopp
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