RAISE THE ROOF
I’ve recently viewed a house in France and like it enough to put in an offer, but have some concerns about its condition – the roof in particular. The property generally needs some TLC and work to update it, but it’s difficult to know what is simply cosmetic and what would involve more serious work, not to mention cost. If I need to spend a considerable sum of money on repairs, then this would obviously affect how much I’d be happy to offer to buy the property. What are my options? THOMAS STEWART
You are right to be concerned about the condition of a roof; its function is critical to the protection of the house, its occupants and their financial welfare. There are three basic elements; how it is supported, how it is fitted, and the age/condition of the outer covering such as slates or tiles.
A slipped or missing slate can be easily identified and replaced at nominal cost, but it also opens up a number of questions as to why it failed in the first place. This is an early symptom of a wider problem associated with ageing. You can ask what the time period was between the slate falling and the repair – holiday homes can be left unattended for months at a time during the ‘rainy season’; and what damage has been caused to the support frame as a result? Only detailed inspection and examination can provide the answers that you need.
The advances in digital photography allow for the external covering to be closely examined. It would be helpful to use a drone with a high-definition camera that allows those areas not visible from ground level, such as roof valleys, hips, chimney stacks, etc, to be examined in close-up detail.
A pattern of ad hoc repairs, localised patching and fixes of the ‘make do and mend’ type should be a serious cause for concern. It also points to the probability of damp-related problems to the roof support frame, such as attacks by wood-boring insects, rot and fungal growth.
The simplest answer to your question is, of course, to commission a survey of the property which will provide you with a comprehensive appraisal of its current condition and anticipate repairs it is likely to require in the short- and medium-term future. You can then use the surveyor’s report to formulate your purchase negotiation strategy. A precontract survey costs a few hundred euros, but it can save you many thousands in the long run.
Having identified defects with the property, it follows that contractors’ price estimates should be obtained to remedy them. Your initial purchase offer should reflect these previously unanticipated costs. You can then use the surveyor’s report to bring the defects to the owner or agent’s attention and pursue your negotiations with vigour.
As with most commercial transactions, knowledge is power. I hope this helps you. JOHN SNELL