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Roof & Cladding

On the face of it there is not a lot of choice in roof coverings. There are the natural materials as dug, such as slate and natural stone, the fired clays, and concrete. Add to this a few comparatively rare means of roofing houses, such as wooden shingles, thatch, metal and turf, and that is the sum total.

So why is it such a big subject? The answer is that in the UK there is a huge choice of all of these. Even with thatch there are three main methods in any number of variations of these, while with natural clay and slate products there is a vast range of textures and colours to choose from.

So for the self-builder or renovator, choosing roof coverings can all be rather bewildering. The temptation is always to act first, then discover later what you might have missed – both in choice and price. There is also the question of workmanship because there is a vast skills shortage in the roofing industry. To quote consultant slater and tiler Brian Rowbotham of the UK Roofing Consultancy, who is writing a comprehensive guide to British roofing styles and techniques: “There are so many people putting on roofs who do not know the trade. Nowadays there is very little training and virtually no support or guidance. It really is a case of ‘buyer beware.’�


What price to pay?
The common mistake people make is to compare the price of the tiles or slates on the normally quoted price per thousand. This is misleading as on this basis many of the interlocking concrete tiles can appear more expensive that some plain tiles. But this is not the measure you should be looking at. Tiles have vastly different coverage rates. It will take sixty plain tiles to cover one square metre but only ten of the interlocking variety. This has a knock on effect with the labour costs, as does the requirement for nailing or clipping.

Most reputable tiling companies will include items such as abutments, valleys and hips within their overall rate and you should question prices that include long lists of extras.
Plain concrete tiles cost considerably less to buy than some quite expensive handmade plain clay tiles, yet the labour involved in laying them is identical – the final difference in the laid price will therefore be less than it first appears.


How to find a roofing contractor
Whether you find a roofing contract through reference, the Yellow Pages, local advertisements or the internet, it is important that you make all of the usual checks on their abilities by reference to previous work and by talking to previous clients. For added security it is often best to employ only those roofers who are members of the National Federation of Roofing Contractors. Members of this organisation are vetted and inspected according to a code of practice to make sure that they are capable of carrying out the work to a high standard, that they carry the relevant third party and public liability insurances and that they follow sound health & safety policies. They can also offer insurance backed guarantees for the work for an additional cost of as little as £20 for a domestic roof. Contact them on 0207 436 0387 or visit their website at

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