Complicated slate roof structure - mainenance problem?

I'm interested in buying an old rambling house in france which is a bit of a mix of this and that added to at various times and without any particular attention to continuity in the roof surfaces. Including 4 or 5 small gables there must be over 20 different roof surfaces and correspondingly just as many intersections though the total surface area might be no more than an average family house (actually perhaps 50% more considering there are also some vertically-hung sections).
It looks to be in good shape generally and was overhauled - indeed some of it was possibly new - in 1980. What is a reasonable average life span for a well built slate roof? Will it always be the junctions/valleys between sections that present the greatest maintenance/repair problem or are the surfaces just as prone?
In general, is a complicated roof structure always going to be a potential maintenance nightmare when compared to a straightforward 'V' shape typical of most terraced houses.
Would appreciate some feedback on this.
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The copper or lead valleys would probably be the first thing to go. The life of the roof depends on the quality of the slate , metals and install. You should spend a few days there in the rain.
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On Wed, 18 Feb 2004 17:09:48 -0600 (CST), snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (m Ransley) wrote:

I expect to see the house with a builder next week - hoping for a downpour.
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a mix of this

continuity in

different roof

surface area

considering there

of it was

well built slate

present the greatest

maintenance
terraced houses.

I live in SE PA and there are a number of older homes with slate roofs. Some are well over 100 years old with original slate. In my area I think the freeze thaw cycle of winter finally does them in after around 150 years. If quality flashing is used on your roof it should outlast you and likely your children.
Chas Hurst
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that's reassuring - thanks
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I would ask some roofers in the area where the house is located. They would be familiar with the materials and methods used in the area and could best answer your questions and recommend solutions. Des

bit of a mix of this

attention to continuity in

20 different roof

total surface area

more considering there

some of it was

a well built slate

present the greatest

potential maintenance

most terraced houses.

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There are many slate roofs in my neighborhood, still quite functional after 80-95 years. Some have had repairs, some not. As someone else mentioned, what generally goes first is the flashing in the valleys. The slate holds up nearly forever unless tree limbs fall on it.
My own roof is a type of tile made of colored cast concrete, sort of a poor man's terra cotta. It is now 84 years old. I've had one major repair and two minor one in the last 25 years, total cost around $7000. Prior to that there seems to have been little or no maintenance or repair as far as I can tell.
Of course, tile and slate are not quite the same. The slate roofs seem to hold up better, last longer. But like tile, when they go it can be expensive.
My recollection of France is that slate and tile is much more common than here in the USA, and I presume more people are available to repair it. Finding someone who can be relied on to do the work properly is the problem I've run into. It's hard work but it doesn't seem that complicated to me and I have done a substantial repair myself on my (detached) garage roof when a tree limb hit it. Many roofers won't touch it and when they do they don't do a good job. But there is no way that this old back is going to wander around three stories up on the house, lugging tiles up and down that steep slope.
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On Thu, 19 Feb 2004 03:37:43 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@xxoptonline.net (Tom Miller) wrote:

yes, I've done small slate repairs myself but as you say there comes a point when it's a risk not worth taking. Sad to say I am at the age where confidence exceeds ability.
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Longer than your life span. 75years would be an exceptionally short lifespan from a very cheaply done roof.

No, it's the flashing that will present a maintenance issue, but it's very managable, and more on the scale of 30-40 years.

Yes, you've got some potential for problems, but you've also got a fine roof that realisticly is only going to need minor attention (work on flashing) sometime in the next twenty to thirty years.

I would not let the complicated roof line dissuade me from a place with a slate roof in good condition.
John
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On Thu, 19 Feb 2004 15:18:12 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@westnet.poe.com wrote:

fair enough - that's encouraging, thanks.

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