Cheap Roofing Supplies: How to Save Money on Roofing Supplies & Materials

Your roof is one of the most important parts of your property, but it is also one area that homeowners frequently neglect. Over the last few years the UK has had some very harsh winters paired with some blustery springs too. Roof slates can easily become loose or damaged under such extreme conditions, and it is important to fix those problems before they become serious enough to damage your home.

Many homeowners put off repairing their roofs because they are worried about the expense (of both labour and materials). The good news is that there are ways to keep the cost of roof repairs down by re-using or purchasing cheap roofing materials.

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Many old slates can be re-used or sold.

Re-Use Old Slates and Tiles

High quality slates and tiles can last for a very long time. When you renovate your roof there is no need to throw out all of the old materials. Instead, try to re-use as many of the old materials as possible. Not only will this save you money, it will also give your roof an authentic, weathered look which may be particularly desirable if you live in a period property or a conservation area.

If you live in a period property, take the opportunity to check your roof’s insulation while you are re-slating. Many period properties have either no, or very poor, insulation. Updating the insulation is a quick, easy and inexpensive job and one that could cut your heating bills by as much as 40 percent.

Use Reclaimed Roofing Materials

Instead of importing cheap slates, or paying a fortune for brand new Welsh slate, why not buy reclaimed slate? Purchasing reclaimed materials is economical and can help to protect the environment too.

One thing to bear in mind when buying reclaimed materials is that you cannot guarantee that all of the slate will be the right size or thickness. You should buy 10-15% more slate than you need, and spend some time sorting and re-cutting the slate to fit your roof. Even with this wastage, however, using reclaimed materials makes financial sense.

Don’t try to get away with buying the bare minimum number of slates when using re-claimed materials. The appearance of slates can differ massively from batch to batch, even if they supposedly come from the same quarry. If you want your roof to have a fairly uniform, but naturally weathered, appearance then you should try to get all of your materials in one go.

Importing Roofing Supplies

While Welsh slate has the best reputation when it comes to quality and appearance, you can acquire high quality slate from other sources too. Spanish and Chinese slate costs far less than Welsh slate, for example. The main problem with importing slate is that the quality can vary massively. Low quality slate can peel and crack easily when exposed to harsh weather conditions, and will need replacing many years before slate from more prestigious British or Welsh quarries.

Before you purchase a large amount of slate from a foreign country, request a sample, and inspect the certificate that comes with it. High quality slate should have a certificate that indicates that it has been tested to BS EN 123261:2004. Remember, however, that this is a minimum standard for frost and fireproof slate, and that it is not a sign that the slate will weather or age as well as Burlington, Westmorland or other prestigious UK slates.

Tips for New Build Homes

If you are trying to save money on roofing materials for a new build, why not try synthetic slates? Concrete slates are incredibly hardwearing, and still look nice. Fibre-cement slates have a consistent, neat appearance, are quite lightweight, and last a long time as well. The one downside to synthetic slates is that when they weather they do expose their base colour.

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New roof being installed on an older building.

Cheap Roofing Supplies

If you are on a tight budget and aren’t sure what kind of slate or tile to buy, it is a good idea to get in touch with a specialist roofing materials supplier. Not only will they be able to offer advice on the right kind of materials for your area, they will also have more expertise and purchasing power, so they can get you a good deal on the materials that you decide to go for. Buying the cheapest roofing supplies you can find, especially from an unknown supplier, is a false economy. By talking to the experts, you’ll get a better deal for your money, and some roofing materials that will last you many years. Once your new slate is installed, take the time to inspect the roof at least twice a year. Look for loose or corroded nails, slipped or missing slates and signs of leaks. If you notice any problems, get them fixed immediately to prevent expensive further damage.

Pros and Cons of a Loft Conversion

Loft conversions offer extra space for storage or an additional room, are attractive, require no planning permission and can help to increase the value of your home if you go to sell. The building process is rarely affected by the weather; ideal if you plan to do your conversion work in winter.

If you’ve toyed with the idea of a loft conversion in order to make extra room in your home, you may not be aware of the pros and cons associated with a loft conversion. A conversion is not always suitable for everyone’s home and there are a number of factors that you need to take into account before you proceed.

Advantages

Extra Room and Space

In the case of a smaller property, a loft conversion could be converted into another bedroom or even an office without the need for a traditional home extension. Adding space upstairs means you can avoid running into brick walls such as not having the room, or the planning permission, required to build an extension on your home.

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Photo by: Holland and Green

More Affordable Option

A loft conversion is usually quite a bit cheaper per square metre than an extension as it does not involve in major structural work to the house.

In addition to this according to research by the Telegraph, adding a loft conversion to your home could also increase the value by anything from 10-20% making it a great investment for those who are looking to expand their living space for the time being but also plan to sell further down the line.

You Won’t Lose Outside Space

Many people have to contend with the fact that with a traditional conversion they are going to lose some outside space such as taking a chunk out of the garden or sacrificing a driveway, depending on whether the conversion is going to be on the front or the back of the house. With a loft conversion this is not the case as you are building upwards as opposed to outwards meaning you can keep on enjoying your outside space.

Won’t Obscure or Overshadow Other Properties

Whether you live in a built up neighbourhood or not, nobody likes to feel like they’re being watched, or have to sacrifice natural light to avoid encroaching on your next door neighbour’s privacy. Traditional extensions have strict guidelines about where you can and can’t place your windows, but with a loft conversion, you can use Velux roof windows or sun tunnels to flood your space with natural light without feeling like a peeping Tom.

Photo by: Lydia
Photo by: Lydia

Disadvantages

May Not Be Feasible For Living In

If you intend to use the conversion as a room for sleeping in, bear in mind a lot of loft conversions have a sloping ceiling. Ceilings less than 2 metres could pose a problem fitting furniture in let alone trying to walk in your loft.

Not All Properties Are Suitable

Houses with a low pitched roof such as a truss roof are not always suitable to be converted. In these cases, the roof structure may have to be remodelled, sometimes at considerable expense. There are tight regulations surrounding changing the structure and look of your roof in order to accommodate a loft conversion. For example, an extension beyond the plane of the existing roof that fronts onto a main road is not permitted and no part of the extension can be higher than the highest part of the existing roof.

You Risk Giving Up Storage Space in Other Areas Of The House

Unless your loft conversion is going to be used solely for storage what will you do with the things already in there? Loft conversions can have a big impact on storage space in the remainder of the home; you could end up with even less space in the rest of the house than before due to having to try to make space for the things that was once in the loft.

One way to get around this could be to install built in cupboards at the lowest point of the roof. This space would otherwise be useless as you can’t comfortably fit furniture in such a shallow gap but it provides the perfect cubby hiding place for all of your things.

Photo by: Unnar Ymir
Photo by: Unnar Ymir

Regulations

Most loft conversions can be carried out with the minimum local authority approvals; this is especially the case when you are not changing the visible appearance of the roof in any way. This guide will help you to understand what’s allowed and what’s not when it comes to converting your loft space into living space.

Naturally, a loft conversion requires light and the introduction of Velux windows into the roof allow the maximum amount of light to come into the conversion without changing the overall shape or look of the roof. Other good way of bringing light into a loft conversion without changing the look of the roof is by fitting a sun tunnel, which is effectively a tube that runs from the external face of the roof down to the ceiling of the extension to allow room to flood into the room.

Final Thoughts

Converting your roof does come at a financial cost, but the benefits of converting your roof into habitable space and the extra value to your property gained by adding an extra room should far exceed the outlay of having the work done.

If you’re thinking about adding a loft conversion to your home, it’s best to talk to a professional before undergoing any work. They will be able to guide you through the process and ensure you don’t fall foul of government regulations. You should also talk to your roofer regarding window options as well as tile supplies to make your new conversion fit in seamlessly with your existing roof.

Top 10 Ways to Save Money on your Roofing Materials

Whether you are on a tight budget or not, there are several ways that you can save time and money on your roofing materials.

1) Start by choosing a few suppliers and present them with as much information about your project as possible. By being honest with them about budget, time frame, your particular skills and needs, you will save time and money in the long run.

2) Whilst available to purchase in general builders merchants, you will tend to get a better quality slate at better prices by visiting a specialist roofing materials supplier or someone who imports roofing slates directly from the quarry. A good roofing supplies company will also help you quantify your materials and offer free advice and support – right through the process from planing to installation.

3) A good supplier will accept unused returns and protect you if things go sour. Look for those with government endorsed standards (e.g. TrustMark) or those regulated by the building industry (National Federation of Roofing Contractors- NFRC).

4) If you have cheap labour available, a smaller slate will offer you better value for money. Large slates are quicker to install but are disproportionally much more expensive per meter squared than a smaller slate.

5) Shopping around may gain you savings (the internet may become your best friend over the next few months). However do try presenting one or two suppliers with your full ‘shopping list’ as you may find that you are able to negotiate better terms and conditions, especially on delivery if you buy all your materials in one go.

6) If renovating your roof, consider trying to salvage as many of the existing tiles or slates and mixing those tiles with new ones to preserve the weathered and authentic look of the roof. If you are replacing old slate, stone or manufactured tiles on your roof, speak to your local reclaim yard or roofer as there may still be value in your old materials.

7) Purchasing reclaimed materials can cut your material costs massively compared to buying tiles or slates new, especially if you want to use Welsh slate, which can be in short supply.

Do remember that there tends to be more work and more waste when working with reclaimed materials (expect to loose over 10% of your materials). Reclaimed slate for instance will need to be colour matched, sorted into thicknesses, holes re-cut and broken slates thrown away.

8) Man-made alternatives, such as concrete slate, or slate made from fibre cement, can be a good option for new builds.  In addition to lower costs, these slates are easy to work with thanks to their consistent size and shape.

9) If you are considering purchasing cheaper Spanish or Chinese slate in an effort to keep costs down, be sure to request a few samples before ordering a pallet and always inspect the quality certificate.  A canny buyer will ask for samples of both the best and worse slates to be found in a pallet. Looking at these will give you an idea of the true quality that you can expect and will ensure that you don’t just see the salesman’s sample.

10) Be honest with your supplier. Specifying a Welsh quality slates whilst refusing to pay over £15 per square meter is unlikely to win you many friends. You may get better advice and choice by discussing the budget upfront and asking your suppliers to come up with some choices and recommendations.