The Dangers Of Overhanging Roofs


Dear John,

I have noticed over the past few months that where the bottom of my roof overhangs the wall a crack is developing between the roof and the wall and it seems to be getting longer week by week, is there anything to worry about.


Regards


Brian (Lliber)


Hello Brian,

I have been asked on several occasions, mainly in Lliber and usually on houses less than ten years old, to inspect defective overhanging roof eaves. The eaves of a roof are where the bottom of the roof slope overhangs the external wall, the area where in the U.K. a gutter would be found. On many Spanish properties the eave overhang can be large and very decorative and anything from 20cm (8 inches) to 600cm (2 feet). As can be expected the larger the overhang the greater the weight and the more chance of collapse. These overhangs are usually but not always constructed of several layers of decorative clay bricks measuring 24cm (10 inch) x 12cm (5 inch) each stepping out further than the one below. This type of eaves detail if constructed correctly is very expensive, being labour intensive and also costly on materials, however once complete it does have a WOW factor. The big problem is that if not constructed properly the complete length of the eaves overhang can suddenly and without warning just fall off. As you can imagine the weight is tremendous and could easily kill someone passing underneath.
I have seen this problem many times before and it is as a direct result of poor workmanship coupled with a lack of building knowledge by the builders.

The correct construction method for overhanging eaves is as follows:-

The roof structure immediately above the eaves needs to be tied to the rest of the roof and of sufficient strength and weight to adequately resist the eaves separating from the rest of the roof and collapsing.  The best way to tie these sections together is with reinforced concrete, the concrete giving the necessary tailing down weight coupled with the reinforcement giving necessary tensile strength.

It would be wise for all readers with this type of roof overhang, to spend a few minutes walking around the outside of their property, looking for any cracking in this area, especially on the side verges, To be absolutely sure remove a few tiles directly above were the roof eaves meet the wall to look for cracks in the roof render.

John Phillips (F.I.A.S. F.A.B.E. M.I.B.C.O. F.F.B. M.R.S.H. C.M.W.O.B.O. M.B.I.M)


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