When working on listed buildings of historical importance, meticulous planning is vital.

When we strip a slate or clay tile roof, we try to salvage as many tiles as possible and reuse them. Which means that until we have physically removed the tiles or slates, we don’t know the exact quantity of replacements that will be required.

Previously, there would have been some pre-planning of materials, but it was relatively stress-free, as there were always options available from numerous suppliers.

Leaving a roof covered with only felt and battens is not ideal. Battens will become saturated and the felt will become distressed with wind and sun damage, so it is important that we get the roof covering back on as soon as possible.

We used to strip a roof, salvage what we could and then calculate how many new tiles or slates were needed. With most of our suppliers, we could order “off the shelf” and had short lead times and efficient delivery slots.

The shortage of materials

That was pre-COVID, pre-Brexit and pre-China and the USA bulk buying raw materials. Our way of working has undergone some huge upheavals of late and it’s no longer possible to order materials “as and when” we need them.

With up to 26-week lead times, inflated prices, and scarce basic materials, such as wood and clay, it is becoming increasingly difficult to plan efficiently, as we are at the whim of all these obstacles.

As we can no longer wait until a roof is stripped before placing a tile order, we must now pre-order sufficient replacement materials so that we will not have a shortfall. Therefore, our clients may be paying for materials they do not need, and we are sometimes left with a surplus. This way of ordering simply serves to over-stress an already fragile supply chain.

A new way of working

My role has become increasingly more about pre-planning, pre-ordering, chasing up missing orders and calling around all of my suppliers just to get the materials I need. This is happening with every single job, across the board, and there doesn’t seem to be a solution to this disruption coming any time soon.

That said, we are busier than ever and are delighted that the work continues to flow, if at a somewhat stalled pace while we wait for deliveries that, may or may not be stuck in the Suez Canal.

Why choose West Country Tiling

With over 30 years’ experience of working on roofing projects, our Master Roofers have extensive knowledge of stripping, salvaging, and reusing clay tiles and stone slate.

If you have a roofing project that requires our expertise, please get in touch on 01373 462 224 or by emailing us on info@westcountrytiling.com.