Tiles are blowing off roofs in our estate. Do we have any recourse?

Property Clinic: roofs with loose tiles must be repaired to avoid damage or human injury

Loose slates: A full roof survey inspection should be undertaken immediately by a competent professional to establish the condition of a damaged roof.

Loose slates: A full roof survey inspection should be undertaken immediately by a competent professional to establish the condition of a damaged roof.

 

I live in a recently built house – 2010 – in a housing estate of 200 mixed semi and detached houses in Co Wicklow.

Since the estate was built, there is an ongoing problem with roof tile and ridge tiles being blown off in high winds. Up to 35 per cent of houses are affected so far, with that rising every year.

We have raised this issue with the builder and they have carried out some repairs. We are concerned that this is an ongoing problem and that the builder is not tackling the main problem.

We have made inquiries with the supplier of the roof tiles and in their spec it states that all tiles in very exposed areas should be nailed and clipped. This has not been done. We also have evidence from roof tilers that the wrong concrete mix was used for ridge tiles.

We have also been in touch with Homebond and they have informed us that the roof is not covered. We are also concerned the tiles themselves may have some defects as there is an unusual growth of algae, suggesting water retention.

We are fearful that a tile may fall and injure somebody. We have also raised this with Wicklow County Council but it has informed us that, under the Building Act of 1990, it is statute-barred for buildings completed over five years ago. Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

It appears that there is a serious issue with the roof coverings on your dwelling not only because of the risk of damp ingress affecting the interior of the property, but even more concerning is the potential risk of coverings blowing off your roof and causing injury to someone on the ground.

The use of roof tiles on dwellings in this country is very common and the popularity of roof tiles as a roof-covering material is due to their competitive price, the speed at which they can be fitted on a roof and their pleasing appearance.

However, when any sort of roof-covering material (tiles, slates or metal sheeting) is fitted on the roof of a dwelling, the roof coverings should remain during windy conditions.

We are generally lucky in this country that we do not suffer from extreme weather conditions but, from time to time, we do experience stormy weather. The west coast of our island generally receives more severe weather conditions.

There are a number of potential issues which may be contributing to the roof coverings falling from your roof and the following is a brief list:

- The roof tile coverings may not have been mechanically secured to the roof.

- Inadequate numbers of roof tiles may have been mechanically secured to the roof.

- The roof tiles have been mechanically secured, however the fixings are too short and do not penetrate the roof timbers to sufficient depth.

- There are defects present in the roof tile coverings.

- The ridge cappings have been inadequately mortar-bedded on to the roof while the mortar mix may be too weak.

- The roof structure may not have been constructed in accordance with best practice.

What to do

Given the dangers associated with roof tiles falling, I recommend the following course of action be considered:

- A full roof survey inspection should be undertaken by a competent professional to establish the current condition of the roof.

- All damaged roof coverings should be carefully removed.

On the assumption that the roof structure to this dwelling and tiling battens are fully intact, it is recommended that roof tiles in every second row (starting with the bottom row of roof tiles) be secured using nails or the tiles be clipped into position on the roof.

All roof tiles around the perimeter of the roofs should be secured using nails or be clipped. And where the site of the dwelling is particularly exposed, it may be necessary to secure every roof tile.

The ridge cappings should be secured on a good-quality mortar mix and, depending on the type of capping, mechanical fixings may be required also to ensure the cappings are fully anchored on to the roof.

With regard to your specific concern that the roof tiles may be suffering from defects, it is recommended that a full assessment of the actual roof tiles be performed during the roof inspection to establish whether there are defects in the tiles or whether the tiles are simply suffering from normal weathering.

In the interests of health and safety, I recommend that you have the roof coverings on your dwelling repaired urgently.

On a separate note, difficulty may be encountered with insurers paying out in the event of an insurance claim, should it be found that the roof coverings were incorrectly fitted during the dwelling’s construction.

Andrew O’Gorman is a chartered building surveyor and member of the Society of Chartered Surveyors Ireland, scsi.ie