The growing number of church and school closures and costly repairs due to metal theft from roofs can be avoided if GRP roofing materials are installed as an alternative to lead or copper, says British roofing products manufacturer Hambleside Danelaw Ltd.
Across the country, local media are reporting major thefts on a daily basis and often these relate to multiple occurrences of theft from the same building. Recent examples include a church in Suffolk that has been raided 14 times and repeated thefts from a church in Dorset resulted in a repair bill of £20,000 after thieves made off with 100 sq. ft. of lead.
Theft like this can be incredibly costly, not only in replacing the stolen lead or copper, but also because of the potential for water damage to what are potentially priceless contents.
According to building professionals, the problem has now become ‘an epidemic’ and the issue has been raised in the House of Commons. The Ecclesiastical Insurance Group estimates that since 2007 its bill for 7,000 metal theft claims from churches has reached almost £23m. The insurer says that lead and copper roof coverings, roof flashings, copper lightning conductors and lead rainwater pipes have all been targeted.
In the case of churches, guidelines emphasise the need to install security measures, such as alarm systems, and require like-for-like replacement of materials due to heritage considerations. Hambleside Danelaw believes that the huge cost of recurring thefts means that a fresh look at the issue is now required.
The company points to media reports which show churches limited to making an insurance claim only once a year or to a maximum claims level of £5,000, when the repair bill can reach many thousands of pounds, forcing churches to launch appeals to parishioners. In one Berkshire case, the church is now to be demolished following copper thefts from the roof, spiralling repair costs to an unachievable sum.
Hambleside Danelaw says that there is a ready alternative to lead in the form of Glass Reinforced Polyester (GRP or glass fibre) roofing materials, ranging from single-ply coverings to flashings which can appear identical to the original lead or copper installations.
The company’s Dryseal roofing system can achieve complex detailing and a similar finish to lead or copper – ideal for the heritage market – but without incurring the cost and importantly not attracting the risk of repetitive theft. Dryseal can offer a ‘temporary’ solution of up to 20 years to break the theft cycle and provide a period to generate the funds needed to reinstate lead where like for like replacement ultimately remains the first preference.
Dryseal is suitable for most flat and pitched roofs and it has been available as a proven solution for new build and refurbishment projects for over 20 years. The system totally encapsulates the roof with a single material. Its easy ‘Fit and Finish’ installation means that it requires no heat or flames, again a very important point for heritage buildings.
Because this GRP system is not a wet-lay product, costs are saved by a considerable reduction in the on-site lamination work required. Where the condition of the substrate allows, Dryseal can be installed over an existing roof surface, which reduces removal, landfill and installation costs.
Dryseal and Hambleside Danelaw’s other GRP roofing products have been installed in schools, churches and hundreds of other buildings across the UK. They are also increasingly featured on prestigious heritage projects such as Durlston Castle, part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site in Dorset.
Dryseal is guaranteed to remain leak free for 20 years and is BBA approved. Contractors vouch for its durability even in the more challenging weather patterns in the north of Scotland with many saying that little or no maintenance is required other than an annual check.
Chris Avery, Hambleside Danelaw’s managing director, said:
“Those responsible for nonheritage buildings like schools should certainly be looking at GRP roofing materials as a metal replacement if they don’t want to be crippled again and again by costly repair bills or by large hikes in insurance premiums. We feel strongly as well that the scale of the metal theft epidemic means that the heritage and church bodies should be giving more serious consideration to GRP as an alternative or ‘temporary’ solution, especially when that alternative can look identical to the original installation.”
Hambleside Danelaw has enhanced its Dryseal GRP roofing system range to include:
The Dryseal roofing system is available through a network of independent, authorised contractors. Information can be obtained directly from Hambleside Danelaw. Potential new contractors who provide quality, good workmanship are encouraged to contact Andy Fell, Hambleside divisional director of sales, on 07834 049126 or firstname.lastname@example.org