Thursday, 14 April 2016

Fibre Cement Garage Roof Replacement - Part 1 (Removal and Procurement)

You might remember No. 4 of my 2016 House Goals was to make the garage watertight.  Given the timely arrival of Storm Katie, I can now confirm that it is - yay!

This is what happens when it rains...

I also explained on my house goals post that the quote that we received was £2000 to remove the 'asbestos' sheeting and replace with a fairly low spec metal sheeting.  Way too pricey to fit into our home reno budget. So DIY job it was.

You'll notice I referred to asbestos in inverted commas above.  That's because I went and got it tested just to understand the nature of the beast (I was convinced it was asbestos but curiosity got the better of me) to find out that it wasn't actually asbestos! Mega good news!  At only £10 per sample [in fact I got three samples tested from a combination of two different labs just to be sure] it seemed worth it.  That's when I started my victory dance...

I was halfway through my victory dance when I was rudely interrupted.  It turns out no-one will take fibre cement sheets, even if it has a UKAS accredited lab test certificate, because, and I quote: "because it looks like it might be asbestos, we have to treat it like it is asbestos".  I can see both sides of the argument, as I can imagine there are some unscrupulous people out there that will try and pass off fibre cement as asbestos, but I'm not one of them!  Our local county council does an asbestos disposal service for £80 (you have to take it to them in one trip), so we begrudgingly had to settle for that as it was cheaper than all other options.  But I was disappointed that my dreams of just taking it down to the local tip and disposing of it for free were quickly dashed.

So one weekend we devised our plan of attack and started disassembling the garage.  But first, we emptied it.  We saw this as a great opportunity to have a real clean and declutter of the garage, and to dispose of some items in the garage that had gotten rather soggy and mouldy as a result.  It meant that our living room looked like the garage for about two weeks, but it was worth the short term pain.

We then purchased a cheapo angle grinder (Homebase clearance thank you very much) to cut through the old bolts in order to release the roof sheets.  This was a fab investment at only £13, as hacksawing all the bolts would have taken us an absolute age (we tried!).

The angle grinder in action

We then double bagged the sheets (treating it like asbestos) and piled it up under the car port for later disposal.

At this point we gave the garage a really good scrub and pressure wash - don't forget to turn off the electrics and cover up the sockets first!

Now our garage wasn't a normal garage with a normal roof truss - obviously.  That would be way too easy if it was! Ha!  We have an old Compton garage in which the purlins are L shaped, but the roof sheets rest on the very top of the L, rather than the bottom of an upside down L.  This doesn't make it very easy to screw into as it's easy to locally overcompress the sheet.

The existing fixings

At this point, this is when the lovely Tony from Accord Steel Fixings came to the rescue.  I must admit I only went to them to get a free colour sample of the roof sheets as they were more expensive than one of their competitors, but when I experienced the quality of their customer service I was quickly swayed.  Their competitor's customer service by comparison was shocking, which helped justify my decision to pay more for a better service.

Anyway, Tony was fab.  He talked me through my options, based on the photos I sent through to him, and recommended that I fixed treated timber battens to 'fill in' the L so that I had a flat surface I could drill into, as the alternative was the eye wateringly expensive Compton bolts and hooks which were a less than ideal solution for several reasons (did I also mention they are uber expensive?!).  He also talked me through the installation, which gauge thickness of steel sheet to go for (0.5 or 0.7mm thick), special ordered in some fixings for me, and the necessary requirements for ventilation when using anti-condensation sheets.  I never felt a hard sell, I never felt patronised, and I felt comfortable asking little questions which might seem insignificant, but for me helped me better understand the process.    To top it off, just before I pressed the go button on the quote, I cheekily asked if he would think about matching the quote of their competitor (on a like for like basis) - not a problem he said. Tony, you're a star!

Delivery of the sheets took approx. 10 working days (they are manufactured and cut to your exact requirements), and they were flexible with a few days that we said in advance that we would not be able to be in for.

This has turned into a much longer post than envisioned so this shall now be Part 1 of 2!  Watch this space for Part 2 where I will show you the installation of the new sheets.

[p.s. again this is not a sponsored post, I just think good customer service should be rewarded! If you would like to know the name of the not-so-hot competitor please send me an e-mail]


  1. The time has come for us to replace the roof of our house. Thank you for this information of how to start and carry out this process. I like the advice given about getting an extensive warranty. I am all about saving money. Another thing to consider is finding a contractor within my budget.

  2. I think this is a really good article. You make this information interesting and engaging. You give readers a lot to think about and I appreciate that kind of writing.

  3. We hear about asbestos testing and wonder why it is so important? You will even find some writers and bloggers try to convince you there are no dangers related to asbestos exposure asbestos inspector