House Purchase Issue With The Roof Should I Worry?

Cletus Van Damme

Previously known as Cheesney Hawks
Last week I agreed to buy an early 70's semi detached house. I thought I offered a fair price for it although I'm beginning to have second thoughts after I went back with some ladders and got in the loft.

There is no signs of water ingress anywhere in the house, the roof tiles are original, like all the other neighbouring houses, nobody has replaced the roof despite the age of the houses.

However when I got in the loft there was 3 places where the felt was damaged, one was pretty big, probably about 1.5m x 1.5m no felt at all just hanging down. I believe that the felt is not really needed, but all the same if I come to sell this house down the line, it is something that surveyors always write on the report and it may cost me. I haven't a clue. I'd assume that all the felt needs replacing due to its age, if it was patched it would just go elsewhere.

I'm just not sure what to do about it. If it was my own house I wouldn't care less. But it isn't yet and I don't want to lose money down the line, as I know a lot of people tend to agree with things in surveyor's reports.

Also this is the reason that I went and looked in the loft instead of letting it get so far down the line with a survey etc. I guess I was expecting everything to be fine.

What are people thoughts on this kind of thing please?


Grumpy Old Barstool
Oop North (ish)
Are you buying outright or via mortgage if mortgage they will insist on surveyor & may pick up on it, felt is important, as water does blow up under the tiles. If you are buying outright, make it a condition of sale that it is rectified or you change your offer in light of the discovery. If you are buying outright, you're a brave person to do it without a survey.
Did you have a survey done, and was that mentioned?

My house is early 1920s has its original roof and has never had felt. It has never been a problem, but that is because it was built of Welsh slate. Tiles have a much shorter life.

I wouldn't worry about it but use it as an opportunity to reduce the asking price and get a new roof.
Cletus Van Damme

Cletus Van Damme

Previously known as Cheesney Hawks
No I am buying it with a very small mortgage. It would've had a basic survey. I was thinking of getting a friend whom is a builder to look at it. I've had an advanced survey done before and didn't reckon much of it. I was just looking myself, before things progressed. I didn't want to waste money if I found something iffy in the loft.

I've had no survey done, this is just my own findings. The last advanced survey I paid for on another house, mentioned the condition of the roofing felt. I haven't got that far yet..


Quite dreadful
lost somewhere
It ought to be rectified. You could try and get a quote for how much it would cost to fix it, and use that to knock something off the asking price. Personally, I would run a mile. The house was built in the 70's. If the roof felt is failing so soon, it could be an indicator of general shoddy workmanship in the whole building.
Cletus Van Damme

Cletus Van Damme

Previously known as Cheesney Hawks
I have a feeling that it is just a characteristic of old roof felt, it goes brittle. They don't use it anymore. But it has put me off, as I wanted to buy a house in decent order. I'm not into major work on houses, it wasn't what I was looking for..
It's a second-hand, well-used item. It will have wear and tear which can be fixed. If it is a tile roof they do have a finite life before they need replacing. It's not in itself a deal-breaker as long as the price reflects the repair cost.

However, for your own peace of mind, do not proceed any further without professional advice.


De Skieven Architek... aka Penfold + Horace
Sarking felt from the 70s often degrades and becomes brittle, but normally due to sunlight at the eaves, so it's unusual for it to break down within the roofspace... see how brittle the existing felt is where it's loose.

The only way to repair felt is to strip the tiles, remove the battens and replace with a new 'Tyvek' or similar breathable membrane, fit new 38x25 treated battens and replace the tiles fixing them down at the verges. The advantage with a breathable membrane [depending on the spec] is that you don't then need to ventilate the roofspace at the eaves and ridge and it gives you the chance to insulate the roof as a 'warm roof' allowing you to then convert the roofspace later without having to remove the roof and insulate it later.

If you intend to do a loft conversion then this all make sense, but if not try to reduce the asking price.


Legendary Member
When buying, put in your offer subject to survey.
However let it be known that you will be reducing the price if any horror stories are found out by the surveyor
(and ask if the seller have any confessions to make, unless they are professionals, they will try to hope the fault they know about won't be found)

Let the mortgage company do their own minimum survey. That will bring up any obvious horror stories.
Then pay for a proper survey of your own, sure it will cost the wrong side of £500 quid, but that is small change if they find a major fault.
Then meet up with the surveyor and discuss what he has found, there may be things which he has mentioned in passing on the report, but actually need more looking into.

I've bough a number of houses over the last 40 years, all of them "in need of modernisation" on the Estate Agent blurb, a number of them were totally uninhabitable. (I've never sold a house though. )


Über Member
Near Norwich
As above although battens are now 50mm. Would also fit new facia/soffits and bargeboards, probably upvc if you don't want future repairs.
It's not a massive job but will require scaffolding also check chimney and point if needed and check or replace lead work. Tiles are most probably
concrete and you may need spares due to breakage so check you can still get pattern and size. I never bother with a survey because for me they are a waste
of money, it's mainly common sense although it helps to be in the trade so to speak and also knowing the right people to ask.

Tail End Charlie

Well, write it down boy ......
The mortgage company survey doesn't really look at things like roof felt. They're more looking at whether it is worth the price they are lending, so things like local schools area etc are more important to them. Basically they're looking at, should you fail to make payments and they repossess, will they get their money back.
I'd get a survey of your own, it's peanuts in the grand scale of house buying and could stop you making an expensive mistake. It will be covered with loads of caveats though, but will pick up major issues.


Legendary Member
In Scotland the seller has to provide a professional survey available to prospective purchasers tho’ you as a buyer are still advised to get your own and in any case a mortgage provider will want one. Very dodgy to buy without your own survey. I think it is a criminal offence for the seller to avoid mentioning any problems and the they could face substantial fines but I am not too sure on this. The only house I bought was nearly 40 years ago so I have no recent direct experience.
Cletus Van Damme

Cletus Van Damme

Previously known as Cheesney Hawks
Thanks for the replies. I've taken everything that you have said on board, I've also researched it a bit and think that I'll either ask for the price to be dropped for a full felt replacement, not a patch-up, or walk.

I'm in hurry to find somewhere as I'm living in a rented house as I sold my house a year ago and couldn't find anywhere to buy in the window I had, so had to rent. It would be different if I was in that situation again, but I'm not. Thanks for the advice though, much appreciated.

It's certainly opened my eyes to the importance of a survey, preferably by a builder. I wanted a fairly modern house and thought they didn't have issues. But I guess these types of houses are getting older, I think I've been a bit naive.
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