I have a PVC flat roof, but it’s not covered by our home insurer

Property Clinic: Your questions answered

Photograph: Getty

Photograph: Getty

 

When insuring, my home insurers ask for confirmation that: “The property is roofed with slates, tiles, concrete, metal (other than corrugated iron), asphalt, mineral felt or torch-on felt. Where any portion of the roof is covered with mineral felt or torch-on felt, it is no greater than 20 per cent of the total roof area.” My flat roof is made of a PVC membrane I think. Why do they exclude this material? Are they just not up-to-date? It is a relatively new material, I think, used since about 2000. Also 20 per cent is very low, should they not increase it to at least 33 per cent of roof surface?

At the outset, it will be helpful to note that a flat roof is defined as having a roof pitch below 1.5 degrees (or a fall of 1 in 40). There are four main types of flat roof construction – bitumen, liquid membrane, single ply roof and green roof. Building product manufacturers have significantly improved their materials over recent years and specific materials used in the construction of roofs meet particular industry standard requirements.

The particular material you reference in your question is within the “single ply membrane” category. These are strong, flexible sheets composed mainly of synthetic polymer (PVC). The single ply product should be certified by the manufacturer and the Irish Agrément Board (IAB)/ British Board of Agrément (BBA). The material is generally guaranteed for 15-20 years.

It is normal for insurers to seek to obtain full information from a homeowner when they are considering the potential risk associated with a property. In this regard, the insurer will have developed a “risk profile” for varied types of construction, age of property, etc and this will allow for a standard premium quote to be provided. In some cases, the insurer will not provide a quotation and others may require more information to better assess the request.

Flat roofs have in the past been prone to water leaks typically due to design faults and materials used. In addition, older flat roofs may not have been routinely maintained and this can exacerbate potential issues. In more recent times, flat roofs are most often a key design feature of a new build or extensions. With proper design, appropriate use of materials and periodic surveys, such roofs can have a long lifespan and will not cause a particular challenge.

Similar to all insurance types, some insurance companies will provide a quotation for flat roofs, but will require a survey to be submitted as part of the consideration of the risk. In this regard, if you have difficulty sourcing a quote from an insurer directly, you may wish to engage with an insurance broker. A periodic survey report from a qualified professional might also be most helpful.

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

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.