The right rainwater system

With a varied choice of rainwater systems on the market, there should be no problem in finding the perfect product for your self-build project, says Sally Moores from Yeoman

Aesthetics, though important, should not be the only thing that is considered when selecting gutters and downpipes. The environment the system is going to be fitted in (conservation or heritage area), water flow from the roof, rainwater harvesting, snow load and life cycles are examples of some of the considerations that should be taken seriously to ensure you have a rainwater system which will work efficiently and last for many years to come.


After all the hard work, decision making, and expense that will go into a self-build project, it would be wrong to cut corners when it comes to installing a rainwater system. This piece of kit will protect your property from the ingress of water, guarding the structure against dampness and water damage.

Having a durable rainwater system that will withstand the great fluctuations of the Great British Weather, yet which also adds to the design of the exterior of the property, is a paramount concern for self-builds.

A system that will not crack or discolour when the temperature rises is essential as well as one that can withstand a heavy snow load if required without becoming misshapen, and which is also the right size to take the water flow from your roof.


One extremely durable option would be a metal rainwater system offering properties which can overcome the issues mentioned above. With an assortment of materials to pick from, metal gutters and downpipes allow style and function to collaborate nicely.


Available in an attractive paint or mill (raw) finish, aluminium rainwater systems complement both the traditional or modern house. The range of gutter profiles, pipe shapes and sizes along with a choice of colours and ornate accessories such as ear bands, will help to tailor this product to the character of your dwelling.

A deep flow gutter is available to cope with high volumes of water flow from the roof, avoiding overflow and splashing – online guides can be found to calculate flow rates from roofs, or a reputable supplier will be able to advise you.

The gutters will also be strong enough to accommodate heavy snow loads – though the addition of extra fixing brackets in areas of concern is recommended.

Look for an aluminium product that offers a joint clip fixing method on the gutters. Not requiring mechanical fixings or welding joints will make it quicker and easier to install, and UV stability and 100% recyclability are also available.


This classical rainwater system which has been popular since the 1700s is acceptable for use on listed and heritage buildings.

A heavier material than aluminium, cast iron offers the same durable properties with a 40 year or more life expectancy, however a small amount of maintenance such as repainting can further extend this. A range of traditional gutter profiles, decorative ear bands along with the addition of stylish rainwater hoppers can certainly ensure that the feel of old and historical buildings are reflected in the use of a cast iron rainwater system.

100% recyclable, cast iron when oxidising produces iron ashes which being carbon based aid the growth of green and planktonic life helping to counteract the effects of global warming.


These materials are chameleon-like, changing patina over time which adds depth and colour to the rainwater system. A great choice for structures that are timber clad, oak framed or indeed garden houses whose exteriors also change colour as the wood ages, adding to their beauty.

The attractive patina caused by oxidisation also functions as an exceptional, natural defence against the elements, making them a good choice of material to be used on coastal properties where erosion by the salt in the atmosphere can be a concern.

Copper gutters and downpipes have proven durability having been used successfully for many generations offering an almost unlimited life service. A natural, truly sustainable and 100% recyclable material, copper also acts as an algaecide and fungicide helping to keep moss and lichen growth to a minimum, proving to be a maintenance free system. It’s also a great choice for those wanting to harvest rainwater.

A zinc or stainless steel rainwater system will bring a contemporary feel to self-build projects, again having outstanding durability and requiring minimal maintenance.


Sometimes there is more to selecting a rainwater system than meets the eye, so it’s important to take time to investigate what’s available.

There are plenty of shows and exhibitions specifically for the self-build and renovation market around the country throughout the year, which showcase the latest in building materials. Experts will also be on hand at these events to offer advice.

Online blogs and websites can be a great tool as people divulge successes and pitfalls, the rights and wrongs of their own projects. However, for foolproof advice and information on the right rainwater system for your particular project it is best to seek out a reputable manufacturer and supplier.

Some of these companies offer free site surveys or take offs from architect drawings that they can then turn into an itemised, easy to understand quotation. Take advantage as these helpful services will ensure that you get the rainwater system that is befitting of your prized home.

Sally Moores is marketing manager at Yeoman