I'm interested in buying an old rambling house in france which is a bit of a mix
and that added to at various times and without any particular attention to
the roof surfaces. Including 4 or 5 small gables there must be over 20
surfaces and correspondingly just as many intersections though the total surface
might be no more than an average family house (actually perhaps 50% more
are also some vertically-hung sections).
It looks to be in good shape generally and was overhauled - indeed some of it
possibly new - in 1980. What is a reasonable average life span for a well
roof? Will it always be the junctions/valleys between sections that present the
maintenance/repair problem or are the surfaces just as prone?
In general, is a complicated roof structure always going to be a potential
nightmare when compared to a straightforward 'V' shape typical of most terraced
Would appreciate some feedback on this.
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
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.
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
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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