Where you are repairing a roof covering you should check the structure around it is in sound condition: damage in this area will shorten the life of the covering. Sometimes it may be sufficient to patch the damaged areas. Barge boards, fascias and soffits, for example, which have only slightly rotted can be temporarily repaired by scraping away the rotten timber, filling the cavity with an exterior grade filler and painting thoroughly with a waterproof paint. In slightly more serious cases the affected section should be cut out and replaced with a new piece of timber. For a lasting repair and where the damage is too bad for patching, the boards should be replaced.

Replacing boards

Before you begin, remember these boards are heavier than they look from the ground and you should attempt replacement only if you can work from a scaffold.

Fascias AND SOFFITS Fascia boards, to which the gutters are fixed, cover the ends of rafters and a soffit board seals the gap underneath, between the wall and the fascia. To replace fascias and soffits. take off the gutters and gutter brackets and remove the fascia by prising it away from the rafter ends with a cold chisel or wrecking bar. The soffit is nailed to the rafter ends and supported by a batten plugged and screwed to the wall or by bearers nailed to the rafters. If the soffit supports are sound. simply prise away the soffit: where the soffit is fixed to bearers you will have to remove the fixing nails partially to release the soffit. If the soffit supports are rotten, these too should be removed and replaced: where the fixings which hold these in place are too difficult to remove, you can cut out the rotten sections with a panel saw and replace them with pieces of new timber.

Where rafter ends are rotten you may be able to form new ends by bolting pieces of new timber alongside the decayed rafters. If this is impossible, the ends should be removed and replaced.

Treat all the roof timbers with wood preservative before fixing the new boards. Cut the soffits and fascias to length: if you have to join several lengths to make up a long run, check the joints coincide with the centre lines of the rafters and make the saw cuts at an angle of 45 degrees to ensure neat joints. Hold the soffit in position: if there is a definite gap between the wall and the soffit, you will have to cut the soffit to the shape of the wall so make sure the board is wide enough. To mark the cutting line on the soffit, hold a pencil against a scrap of wood and move this along the wall, tracing the contour of the wall onto the soffit. Trim the edge of the soffit to match, making an allowance for the width of the block of wood.

Treat the new boards with wood preservative and apply a wood primer. Replace the soffit by fixing it to the underside of the rafter ends and supports with galvanized nails. Fix the new fascia by nailing it to the rafter ends and through the edge of the soffit. The top edge of the fascia should tuck under the overhang of the roof slates or tiles and any undcrfelt should overhang the front of the fascia so it can be tucked into the gutters later. The lower edge of the fascia should protrude below the face of the soffit to protect the soffit and the walls. BARGE BOARDS These are fitted at the gable end of the roof. They are screwed to the roof timbers and, like the fascia board, incorporate a soffit which seals the gap underneath. Lever out the old boards with a crowbar or wrecking bar. starting at the eaves and working upwards. Use the old boards as a guide to cut the new ones to the correct angle at the ridge; alternatively make a card template of the angle before removing the boards and transfer the shape to the new boards, trimming as necessary. Treat the boards with clear wood preservative and allow this to dry. then prime all surfaces. Fix the soffit to the underside of the roof timbers, using rustproof screws, then fit the barge board over the soffit and screw it to the roof timbers. After fixing. you may find you have to seal the verge by re-pointing the tiles.


Usually these consist of a strip of galvanized steel mesh fixed to support brackets which are screwed to the sides of the rafters or to the fascia board. Where the mesh has come loose, refix it to the supports with twists of copper or galvanized steel wire. If the mesh has corroded, remove the fixings which hold it in place and, after lifting away the mesh, replace it with galvanized steel mesh fixed to the roof side of the support brackets with wire twists. Remove any loose brackets and refix them in a slightly different position so the fixing screws can bite into new wood. If brackets are bent, you can straighten them by using a length of strong tube as a lever, slipping it over the bracket.


For safety reasons, you should always work from a secure foothold, such as a scaffold tower cantilevered over the roof or a ladder which is securely tied at the top.

Some older houses have a small room near, or leading off, the kitchen. Originally a larder or utility room, this can be more useful as a family dining area or a place where the children can do homework without feeling cut off from the rest of the family.

Here the wall in which the door was originally set was not a load-bearing one, so it was removed without any trouble to leave a rectangular alcove. Existing pipes were boxed in and the walls and ceiling given an all-over treatment with paper to disguise odd angles and shapes.

When furnishing this type of area, look for a traditional pine dining table which is long and thin, or choose any other suitably narrow style. Make or buy some plain wood benches and fix a shelf at the end for knick-knacks and condiments.

This kind of treatment will give you an extra family room which can be used at any time without disturbing the normal kitchen activities.

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Windows may crack or stick, the frames warp or let in water and sash cords break. These common faults in windows are relatively easy to correct and it is worth doing so at the earliest possible stage to avoid prolonged inconvenience or further damage. But make sure any repairs are done thoroughly or the problemContinue Reading