Roof problems in Portugal are caused by three main things.
* Wood worm infestation
* Dry Rot
* Poor quality materials have been used
We find that roof problems in Portugal show themselves in 3 ways
* Cracks in exterior walls below the roof
* Sagging, splayed roof shape
* Roof tiles have a “wavy” appearance resembling waves on the sea
A roof with a problem in Portugal may have serious and expensive consequences.
Often when I am looking over a property for prospective purchasers I am looking at the structural big picture not the missing floor board or broken window. The odd missing roof tile is less important that the dipping or sagging that is often displayed in old house roofs.
I love the unique character of old Portuguese houses and over the years have bought and sold many. The main driving force for me to buy a property is probably very similar to your own. If I like the feel/vibe of a property its as good as bought.
I have to fight with myself to give a property that I am interested in buying a thorough appraisal.
Take for example a property that I looked at in Porto near the river. It has period features and character in every room, great location, nice views it had it all. In fact I had already justified to myself why I had to have it…….
Then I was unable to visit the house for a while so sitting in an airport idly looking at Google-Earth on my laptop I searched for the property although all I could see was a ariel view of the roofs, following the road I eventually identified the house from above. I noticed that there was a dark shadow on part of the roof. A shadow that the other houses didn’t have. I also noticed that further down the street a couple of houses roofs had collapsed into the houses. Not visible from the street.
This got me thinking and I decided to try to find a vantage point to take a good look at the roof (there was no access from inside the house) sure enough with the aid of binoculars I could see that the “shadow” was actually moss and weeds growing on the roof tiles.
A situation that I have come across many times before on other people’s houses so I clearly understood the consequences.
In order to explain the potential problem lets take as an example a small job we were asked to do before a new owner moved in to a newly purchased property. “Replace a few roof tiles as there were a few small leaks in the upstairs bedrooms” Once up on the roof we noticed that the few gutters that were still in place were full of moss and the down pipes blocked. Due to massive sagging of the roof timbers the tile slope had leveled out somewhat allowing the moss to grow in abundance and causing the rain water to tun back along the roof tiles and into the house. Many of the tiles because they were not now aligned properly were cracked from the weight of holding the roof tiles above.
It gets worse…
We removed a few roof tiles to replace an area of broken tiles only to find that the tile laths (the timber which the roof tiles are mounted on) was rotten it became like dust when you touched it from years of wood worm infestation. We could also identify lots of wet rot and wood worm damage to the roof joists some of which had snapped. The whole roof had to be replaced.
It was this that made me walk away from the house purchase. Not the work of replacing the roof as that is something we do all the time. It was the fact that the house was in a protected zone, would have been very difficult to access the roof with scaffolding from the road and the fact that the roof problems will have been replicated in other parts of the house. Even if I had the money to carry out the total refurbishment the house needed we would have ruined most of the original period features and character. More importantly I would have spent more than the house could be sold for. Not a good idea !
Before you sign in the dotted line for your house in Portugal have it checked out.