The integrity of our historic buildings is being threatened by the ongoing rise in metal thefts claims Sheffield-based heritage roofing specialists, Martin-Brooks.
Following a huge surge in scrap metal prices, Martin-Brooks is being inundated with calls from residential and commercial property owners whose roofs have been stripped of lead.
The problem is so prolific in the heritage sector that Martin-Brooks has been called out to an average three churches a month for the last three years, to deal with problems ranging from missing flashing to the complete removal of lead from large flat roofed areas.
Martin-Brooks director, Nick Brooks, said: “The cost of replacing lead is massive, but added to this, there is the burden of associated damage caused by wind and water ingress that occurs when the fabric of these precious buildings is exposed to the elements. Many heritage sites are now installing alternative materials such as stainless steel. This is a good replacement, but it cannot compete with lead for quality and longevity.”
Metal theft has become such a problem that churches can now only insure against 50% of lead value and are subject to a cap on individual claims. This is bringing new products to the market, such as smart water, which can be used to mark lead roofs, but adds further expense to the cost of installation.
Nick added: “Whilst churches are bearing the brunt of metal theft, the problem is much more widespread and is having a significant impact on private owners of listed properties and organisations like English Heritage who are responsible for the protection of a large proportion of our architectural history. Continued criminal activity will only result in increased use of alternative products and this will ultimately have a negative impact on the long term cost of preserving these beautiful buildings.”
Martin-Brooks was shortlisted for the second consecutive year in the Heritage Roofing category of The Roofing Awards 2011, run by the National Federation of Roofing Contractors (NFRC) and is listed on its heritage register.