Slate is a durable and long lasting roofing material, which is why it has become the roofing material of choice on almost all new builds. Slate has actually been popular for roofing ever since the Roman times, but today there is much more choice from local, imported or man-made slate. Slate is hard wearing and watertight, plus building regulations now state that all newly quarried British slate for roofing must be frost and fire proof. There are many different types of slate available, the most popular being Welsh slate, Cornish Delabole, Scottish Ballachulish, Burlington, Westmorland and Easdale slates. High quality slates are pretty expensive however and therefore not the best option for those on a tight budget.
In addition to the material costs, there is also a lot of labour involved as installing a slate roof is a professional and time consuming job. When having a roof re-fitted it is possible to re-use some of the slates to keep costs down. At present, imported slate is actually a cheaper alternative to British quarried slate so is becoming more popular in the UK, particularly slate from Spain, China and Canada. However, you must ensure any imported slate has been tested to BS EN 123261 for water absorption.
Man-made slate roofing material lacks the long lifespan of natural slates, but is considerably cheaper and so very popular. Man-made tiles are produced to the same size and colour as natural slate, so are easy to lay and look more uniform. Man-made slate often comes pre-drilled with holes which saves a lot of time and money. Materials used include concrete slate and roof tiles made from slate dust. Fibre-cement slates are a lightweight option great for steep roof pitches. Clay based slates are also popular and offer good resistance to the UK weather.
To avoid cowboys your best protection is good old-fashioned word-of-mouth. Ask friends, family or neighbours for personal recommendations or warnings regarding local roofing contractors. Any good contractor will be happy to provide references and photos of their work. Avoid pressure sales pitches - if it sounds too good to be true, run a mile! Never hire a roofing contractor that offers services door-to-door. Remember that an honest contractor will not pressure you into making a decision.
Be aware that replacing slates is not always necessary, slates don't always need to be replaced and often professional roofers can easily salvage them. It is always recommended that your roofer be registered in a national trade association, such as the National Federation of Roofing Contractors or the Confederation of Roofing Contractors.
In addition you should always check that the roofers insurance policy covers Employers Liability, Public/Products Liability and Contract Works. Remember that reputable roofers will not charge for estimates and quotes -any roofer that charges you for "taking a look" is to be avoided! To get quotes from local recommended roofers near you without having to work your way through the yellow pages, simply click the post your job" button on this page to enter details about the roofing work you require and your contact information. You can then relax and let roofing companies get in touch with you to arrange a survey and provide a written quotation and references.
The average price of a new slate roof depends on a number of factors including size of your roof, whether scaffolding is required and the cost of any fascia, soffit or chimney work that is needed. Roofing costs will also depend on how long the job will take which is influenced by ease of access and slates chosen. But as a rough guide, a new complete installation of a slate roof in an average UK property will cost between £5,000 and £10,000.