Problems dealing with a Roofing contractor?

Problems dealing with a Roofing contractor?

13:29 PM, 10th February 2021, About 3 years ago 24

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In August last year, my tenant sent me pictures of water coming into the front upstairs bedroom. There appeared to be a leak coming from the Bay.

Eventually, I managed to get a contractor to go and look, and he said it needed the Bay recovering, chimney repointing, some guttering needed repairing etc. He quoted a price and gave guarantees for the specific pieces of work I.e. 20 year G’tee for the Bay 5 years for the guttering etc.

Anyway, I got him to do the job and paid him on receipt of the invoice. The Tenant has sent me pictures of the bay again, and it appears that we have a leak again in the same area. I have tried to get the contractor back out and despite assurances promises and excuses he hasn’t been back.

Has anyone been in a similar situation and does anyone know what kind of action I can take to either get this guy back out or to get someone else and pass the cost to this guy?

Any help/advice would be most welcome as this is the first time we’ve had any issues like this since we’ve owned the property in circa 8 years.


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Paul Maguire

10:05 AM, 11th February 2021, About 3 years ago

Ignore the "guarantee" and get another company [preferably recommended by someone you know] to fix the problem. Accept the fact that it'll be cheaper to pay for the work again than chase a meaningless guarantee.

Paul Shears

10:07 AM, 11th February 2021, About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Paul Maguire at 11/02/2021 - 10:05
I must painfully totally support Paul Maguire's comment.

Ian Narbeth

10:51 AM, 11th February 2021, About 3 years ago

The first thing to do is to check that the company that gave the guarantee still exists. You can check for free at Companies House: If it has ceased trading then you will have to find another contractor and bear the cost. If it is still trading, check its accounts (for what it's worth - most small businesses won't have much on the balance sheet and you don't publish a profit and loss account). Then write to the company by registered post/recorded delivery to its registered office referring to your fruitless communication, setting out the problem and requiring the company to take action to remedy the defects. Give them a reasonable time (which may be a matter of days if appropriate) to respond. In the meantime I would get another contractor lined up in anticipation of the company ignoring you. By writing to them you improve the chances of succeeding in a damages claim. You will also avoid the "small print" trap that the guarantee only applies if they are first given the chance to remedy the problem.
A word to the wise: 20 year guarantees are worthless from a £100 company and of limited value from most businesses which don't last 20 years, unless they are backed by an insurance policy from a large insurer or Lloyds. Also, what does the "guarantee" cover? Unless it covers damage caused as consequence of the defective work the company may simply pay for the cost of repairing the bay, not for damage to plaster and paintwork inside.

paul kaye

10:59 AM, 11th February 2021, About 3 years ago

I had the same on two properties.
I paid for a roof leak 3 times until the third roofer fixed it.
I paid again on the second property 3 times before the third roofer fixed it.
I now have a good roofer ! just in case.
I had a guarantee from the first roofer,that was not worth the paper it was written on,he could not even spell guarantee !!!!!!!!!!!!! spelt it as garantee!
lesson learned.My big mistake was not checking reviews first.


11:21 AM, 11th February 2021, About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by paul kaye at 11/02/2021 - 10:59
Same. Decent roofers are as rare as hens teeth. Same with many other trades.

Bring back apprenticeships - the Germans can do it, what is wrong with our useless government?

Ian Narbeth

11:39 AM, 11th February 2021, About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by JB at 11/02/2021 - 11:21
Apprenticeships could be good but it's not really the Government's fault. Rather, I suggest it is (a) minimum wage laws that make it uneconomic to train youngsters (b) customers wanting work done really cheaply (c) the Germans having much more pride in the job and shame at doing a shoddy job and (d) young people not wanting to put in the graft to learn their trades properly.

My long-time builder tells me of the problems in getting decent workmen to stick at a job. When times are good the house-builders will pay top dollar for so-so tradesmen such as brickies or roofers. They rush off to earn good money on a job and then take a holiday, buy a car, new trainers etc. They are not willing to work steadily for a few years at a trade and get skilled.

For example take a look at the brickwork on new build housing. You will often see walls that have three different shades of mortar because the job was done piecemeal by different workers, splashes of cement on the surface of bricks which can never be fixed and will always look unsightly. The problem is the house-builders can get away with it especially where people buy off plan. This contaminates the whole industry.

Paul Shears

11:55 AM, 11th February 2021, About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by JB at 11/02/2021 - 11:21
Reply to JB. I totally agree.
Years ago the government brought in Government "Skillcentres". Having worked at up to degree level for 5.5 years, in my opinion, at a trade skill level, these were by far the best training that I have personally benefitted from or have ever heard of. As a general thing, it was theory in the morning and practice all afternoon.
All you had to do to get on one was to apply and take a simple exam. Then you had to wait for a place. If, like myself, you were prepared to go anywhere in the country to get on a course, you would only have to wait a few months at most.
I went on two of these courses which were funded by the tax payer at a reasonable but modest level. It was just enough to live on for a year.
These places would satisfy a permanent national need.
Further, if you got on a course and it was found by the lecturer that you had no natural aptitude, then they would transfer you to another course with your agreement.
These places were a very successful no brainer and yet they were all shut down years ago.
The lecturers were dedicated tradesmen who thought, quite correctly, that they were adding real value to society.


12:00 PM, 11th February 2021, About 3 years ago

Hmm roofing - the perennial problem. It's understandable that there is a dearth of decent roofing contractors. It's a difficult and dangerous job. Having said that, some years ago I had the roof from hell. Despite many failed repair attempts and guarantees I took the plunge and re-roofed it - specifying room in roof insulation at the same time. 7K later, the roof leaked in exactly the same places. I had several arguments with the roofer, then got another roofer for a 2nd opinion, who told me what was wrong and that I could take roofer 1 to the FMB of which roofer 1 was a member. The FMB found against roofer 1 and gave him 6 months to fix it. He didn't. The FMB refused to act any further saying that I had to take it to court! I took the roofer to court, but in the meantime I was pulled up by environmental health and decided to get roofer 2 to fix the problems at a cost of 2k. In court, the roofer admitted that he had NEVER insulated a roof to modern standards after trying to blind the judge with roofing babble about how it couldn't be done. But the worst of it was that mid-proceedings (that took 2 days!) roofer 1 produced a letter from roofer 2 to say that roofer 1 had done nothing wrong. The judge didn't allow the letter, but I was livid. The judge also didn't allow for reimbursement of the 2K - she said I'd taken a 'commercial decision' to get the work done. That one still escapes me. She did find against roofer 1 to the tune of 5K. I represented myself and the roofer had legal insurance and therefore a solicitor. But I had taken some advice that cost me a lot of money and spent months sweating over roofing practices. The roofer also tried to get the judges sympathy by saying that he had gout and had health problems, (but had still taken on the job). He spent 2 years paying off the debt very slowly. In the end it is true what they say. There is rarely any point taking contract law to court. If you do, DO NOT USE THE SMALL CLAIMS ROUTE. You cannot claim legal expenses and that was my mistake - It would have been worthwhile if I had gone through the normal courts. I still have no room-in-roof insulation in that property as a result. My neighbour suggested taking the stacks down. Given my time again, that's what I'd do.


12:00 PM, 11th February 2021, About 3 years ago

As a former roofing contractor, I would suggest for substantial repairs writing your own schedule of work from the first quotation received by asking that contractor to itemise, in detail, all the steps of the work, ( e.g. State extent of scaffolding and where it would be located; Strip back existing slates adjacent to lower chimney stack and photograph condition of rafters; Leave site completely clean and tidy etc) as well as the quality and brand of materials. This should give you roughly like for like quotes when you then invite two subsequent quotations.
In your initial emailed instructions when making your enquiry, ask all of them to state that the work is on the basis of a 2 month 20% retention in order for you to check water and weather tightness. (This would obviously not apply to very minor repairs, such as re-bedding a ridge tile). You'll almost always get a chance to experience rain from various wind directions, and of various degrees, and the roofing contractor will be very keen to oblige in almost all cases. You could also ask whether scaffolding could be left in place for a few more weeks while weather testing happens for larger jobs. This shouldn't cost you as much as you would think.
Also, since costly scaffolding is really needed these days for even fairly minor repair work, attempted repairs to a leak which may have multiple leakage causes are often difficult to trace, due to travelling water etc., so a contractor can inherit the problems perhaps caused by deterioration and poor previous standards in some cases. Therefore, I would generally look at investing in renewing everything related to a problem if possible, as it could be false economy otherwise. So I wouldn't regard all failed repair attempts as "cowboy" work.
Agree in advance having many photos of all stages of work being sent to you.
Include requiring a written guarantee separate from the invoice stating that it will cover the replacement of defective materials and workmanship for 10 years when not caused by exceptional storm damage and where you have not given access to others since, such as aerial fitting or window cleaners, who can easily break tiles, for example. For repairs, you'll struggle to nail a guarantee down at all in most cases.
Remember roofs do take an absolute hammering, and out of sight is often out of mind.

Paul Shears

12:01 PM, 11th February 2021, About 3 years ago

Reply to the comment left by Ian Narbeth at 11/02/2021 - 11:39
When I was a builder some decades ago, if you were caught laying bricks frog down, you'd be sacked.
When I bought a new detached house up in Sheffield many years later, I found that ALL of the bricks were frog down. I then examined what was happening on countless other houses being constructed in the general area and they were all frog down!
I had occasion to speak to a council building control officer about this as it is easy to stop it, or so I thought. He explained to me that the council fought a losing battle on this appalling practice before finally giving up!

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