What is the Best Material for a Flat Roof

firestone for rubber roofing in the ukWhat is the best flat roof, or roof material for flat roof replacement? This is a question I have asked a whole lot, and to be honest there was never a right or wrong answer – But the advice I was given by Richard Davies of when I called his company out for the roofing of a new extension,  there’s sometimes a kind of flat roof that will suit a flat roof of a particular size, shape, detail level or budget. So if you want some impartial guidance on the kind of roof I generally go for these days when remodeling properties free of sales patter, read on.

Rubber Roofing

These have stormed onto the UK market after extended results in the USA and some other countries. The rubber or E.P.D.M. (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer) is normally made by Firestone, and can often be installed in one full layer without having to use joins (dependant upon size) which makes it an appealing prospect. It is very lightweight per square metre, extremely elastic and tough, so it lends itself to a lot of roofing situations. Nearly all new residential rubber roofs are glued down to a new wooden roof substrate, although they can in some situations be laid on top and mechanically fixed or weighed down with ballast. My personal preference for domestic roofs is a new install with new roof decking as a single ply membrane.

A well installed rubber roof, to the right roof, could last up to Half a century. Some firms will supply a guarantee for 50 years, but this guarantee varies from installer to installer. I question whether the company is still going to be trading in 50 years or if they’d honour the guarantee after a couple of decades have passed, so take this with a pinch of salt.

The Benefits of Rubber for the Roof

Price – Competitively priced, expect to pay 20-30% more than a torch on felt roof.
Suitability – Ideal for green roofs, light-weight, flexible and solid. Will not install well into roofing with tricky details, pipes, curved upstand walls, complicated gulleys or gutters because it will become full of joints, which can look ugly and lead to leaks. Good for nice simple shaped roofs, no naked flames needed.

Damage level of resistance – An incredibly durable roof, it can resist nearly all kinds of punishment besides heavy impact from pointed objects, but not being cut or vandalised.

Repairability – It is usually repaired very easily with rubber patches, similar to a cycle tyre, although they are not pretty to look at.

Appearance – For me personally, right here is the achilles heel. It’s a personal factor but a big sheet of black rubber, looks like a big sheet of black rubber if you ask me. Of course if it’s not noticeable from a window, should it matter?
Installation problems – Regrettably the evident ease of install has attracted shady roofers who fancy some fast cash. Look for a roofing company with good trading reviews or a history of fitting other kinds of flat roof. A large rubber roof will shrink over time, some say up to 10%, personally I’ve seen it at about 5%. Shrinkage may cause edge details and upstands to pull away from wall structure if they’re not fitted with the right fitting details, like a russ strip (mechanically fixed edge fixings). A better made fleece backed EPDM will resist or stop shrinkage, so if you have a large roof, this can be worthy of a look. A simple roof can be installed in rubber by a savy DIYer.


My personal choice these days when dealing with a new flat roof is rubber, for the reasons mentioned above, but there are lots of other options available which all have their own merits and qualities. In the North East I always use Responsive Roofing for my flat roofing projects, thye specialise in Rubber but take a look at their site if your in the area for more information on various other materials for flat roofs. For the DIYer you can buy the material direct from Permaroof UK Ltd.


A Quick Guide to Combi Boilers

the benefits of a combi boilerThe combination boiler, often known as the combi boiler, is the most popular boiler type in the UK these days. The combi boiler supplies hot water and heating without having to use storage tanks or a cylinder. Combi boilers can be gas, electric or oil fired. In relation to boilers, equipment prices are typically cheaper than the installation and this write-up will help you choose the best combi boiler. This article will also give a guide to installation costs along with the purchase costs for a popular combi boiler.

Unlike most home improvement projects, changing gas boilers isn’t a DIY job. You will have to be a registered gas engineer before you execute work on gas boilers and associated systems. Choosing the right combi boiler is crucial to enjoying heat and hot water reliably for years to come. Like all electrical and mechanical systems, combi boilers need annual servicing to be sure there’re working as efficiently as possible. My personal favourites which i’ve installed in 4 buy to let properties are listed below, I use Herkes Heating for my boiler installations, their a gas safe registered company based in Poole where my buy to lets are, I was lucky to find Patrick and his team really reliable and always happy to answer questions when I have them. Anyway, here we go:

Worcester Bosch Greenstar 24i

The Worcester Bosch Greenstar 24i combi boiler model has a 24kW heat output, which is well suited for most small to medium sized properties. It gives you the following benefits and features:

  • A large boiler controls display making it simple to use.
  • A range of user available controls to help you heat your home to your ideal comfort levels.
  • Reduced electricity use because it has a high efficiency pump fitted, saving you money.
  • Provides immediate hot water for heating or domestic use.
  • Comes with a 5 year standard guarantee.
  • Achieves A rating for both heating and hot water.

The Greenstar 24i with installation costs around £1,600 and the boiler by itself differs in price from £890. It is always a good idea to use an installed price whilst comparing boiler costs, unless you have somebody qualified to perform the installation for you.

vaillant boilersVaillant ecoTEC Pro

The Vaillant ecoTEC Pro combination boiler is once again a very popular product in the UK, because of its simple and user friendly design. Listed below are some of the major features and added benefits of this range of boilers:

  • Built-in frost control (two stage) for maximum all year long performance.
  • High efficiency heat exchanger (stainless-steel) guarantees fast delivery of hot water on-demand.
  • Has an 89.2% efficiency rating making it economical to run.
  • Has a 2 year standard warranty, which may be extended if you are using an approved installer.
  • Features a high efficiency pump which costs less to run.

Boiler only prices for the Vaillant ecoTEC pro 28kW boiler begin at £850 and you can assume a boiler and installation cost of around £1,600. Bear in mind installation prices can vary depending on numerous factors, including complexity of your installation.

Need a Hand With an Installation?

Picking the best boiler for your home can be a challenge but hopefully this short article narrows down your focus a bit. Each boiler brand provides boiler sizing calculator that will help you pick the correct boiler size for your requirements. It’s often unnecessary to pick a boiler with a larger heat output than you require, unless you’re thinking about extending your home. If you have an installation in or around Poole I can highly advocate the team at Herkes Heating, even if your not local but have some questions i’m sure the guys would be happy to offer a little general advise if needed. You might also find the video below from British Gas quite useful, after watching this video myself I called them up for a quote on installation, as is the case often with big firms lets just say they were not too competitive, but helpful all the same:


Hiring Roofers

dont get screwed when hiring a roofing companyHow do I choose a Roof Specialist?

I’ve dealt with my fair share of roofers in my time, some good, some bad, others down right awful, I hope the guide below finds you before you find the bad or the downright awful!

One of the best places to begin looking for a roofer is trade association websites such as the NFRC or CORC. Always make sure the roofing contractor you hire is registered with at leasat one major. Consider at least 3 quotations from three different companies before choosing one. This is the suggested approach when choosing any home professional or contractor.

Weeding out the cowboys, or how to spot a dishonest contractor

It’s every property owner’s headache: Choosing a contractor that looked capable on first impression, only to have him/her make a mess of your lovely home through lack of skill! The good news is, your best defense against this disappointment is good old-fashioned word-of-mouth. Ask friends, family or nearby neighbours for referrals (or warnings!) relating to local companies. Ask them if the work was finished in schedule and within budget. Also, you can ask the potential contractor for a portfolio of personal references and images of their work. Any good contractor is going to be happy to provide you with these. If they’re not, it’s probably wise to look somewhere else. A list of costumer’s addresses would also be helpful, as you could personally see the work.

Evaluate the problem yourself first

One of the key signs that your roofer might be a dodgy tradesman is if he exaggerates the scale of the problem, how much work he will have to do and, subsequently, what kind of money you’ll need to shell out. It was actually a roofing company in Barnet who gave me this advice ( SQR Roofing And Building Services) , it’s so simple and yet makes so much sense, on further research it is actually recommend by industry experts that you attempt to evaluate the problem yourself first prior to calling anybody out. For example, if your roof leaks from one small, single area, it is unlikely you need a full re-roof and instead will simply require one section to be patched and repaired.

If you have a friend or member of the family with knowledge of home improvements or DIY, ask if they would take a look for you. If not, use a ladder to safely and carefully look at the damage yourself.

Check their credentials

It is vital that you always look into a company diligently before employing them to complete any work. This means ensuring that they are a qualified, experienced and insured company with the related accreditations and trade associations.

One of the most effective ways to work out swiftly if they are a well established firm is to ask for all their details – which includes their address and telephone number. Any roof contractor who just gives you a mobile number should raise your suspicions as they are then almost untraceable.

Inquire about their experience

Before contracting a roofing company, even one reccomended like SQR roofing & Building were recomended to me to re roof my flat roof industry experts suggest that you make sure they’ve got related experience executing the job you need them to do. It is ineffective to hire a roof contractor with unique experience in thatched roof restorations when you need a new flat roof installed and it’s likely that, following their work, you will have to hire a second roofer to fix the job the first one didn’t do!

Instead, ask them to be truthful with their working experience. You want to ensure you employ a roofer that has a wealth of knowledge and professional experience undertaking the actual job you require. There’s no point wasting your time – or theirs!

to do fix the roofIn Summary

Finally, trust your intuition. If a roofer rubs you up the wrong way, even at the contract stage, don’t be afraid to back out prior to signing and resume your search. Unless water is pouring in overhead, it pays to take your time on this major financial commitment.

The BBB ( better business bureau) offer some good advice in the video below before hiring a roofer:


The Age Old Question… Whether to Build New or Remodel?

new buildsThe fact is, for the cost of a used home, you could get a new home. On a cost-per-square-foot base, renovation is often far more expensive than new construction. But the decision to do one compared to the other must not be dependant on construction costs alone. There are various areas to consider.

The Basics

So why is constructing a new home much less expensive than a whole home remodel? That’s an easy answer – because constructing a home from the ground-up, you start with a clean slate to construct on. You gain huge efficiencies in scheduling simply because every little thing can be arranged beforehand. First the foundation is dug and poured. Then the walls are framed. Sheathing, windows, doors, roofing, siding and then the plumbing and wiring is installed. Insulation is next and then the wall studs are enclosed in sheetrock, etc.

In contrast, when a whole home remodeling project is carried out, the constructor is forced to work in an existing structure. Walls must be taken out before they can be rebuilt. If window and door locations will be changed, the old openings have to be closed up on the outside and interior, and then new opening cut into the walls. Work teams from the numerous trades frequently work nearly on top of one another. Existing home problems (for instance cracks in plaster or drywall) may force the builder to make compromises to connect the old and new portions of the property together. Making an open concept design change means getting rid of walls. And the challenge there is that you don’t actually know what’s within that wall. With remodeling you can normally count on surprises and all surprises cost more money.

While whole house remodeling is almost always higher in price than new construction, the cost of a home is just part of the equation.

When should you renovate versus looking to build new?

  • You love your neighborhood.
  • There aren’t any readily available building lots in your community. Check out home building for advice on finding a building plot
  • You have an emotive attachment to your house and have the money to make the changes.
  • You want to invest money in the home than in closing and moving costs.
  • Property values in your community are increasing.
  • Your home value is not at the peak for the community.
  • You’re looking to buy in a mature neighborhood with grown trees and landscaping.

When should you think about the option of building a new property?

  • Building lots are available in your area or a location you really like.
  • The cost of redesigning your home will outpace its resale value.
  • You want a home with changes that can’t be added to your present home.

renovations vs new buildsBut don’t think you’re getting off easy by building a new home; it is still plenty of work. And the construction of your house is not the only costs you’ll bear. When budgeting, you’ll have to include non-construction fees including architect, financing, settlement costs and relocating costs.

Remodeling and building are both viable options. Speak with a professional estage agent before you make your final decision. If you’ve read this far then you may find the video below worthwhile watching,  its a video by David Siddons, a real estate broker, whilst he and the topic of conversation is clearly American the arguments for both sides are as relevant to the UK market as they are the American: