Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Roofers, Gutters, Masons, Oh My!

Do not assume that the recent lack of posting equates to an equivalent lack of progress on the house projects. On the contrary, things are moving along at a frightening clip. My head is spinning.

When I started to put together the numbers for these projects in the spring, I allowed for a 30% overrun fund, (my "Oh Crap" fund). The mason was a fixed bid, given to us last year, so I wasn't too concerned about that bid, but the roof and gutters were a different story. The number of contractors and the specialized nature of the repairs made me very wary. When the initial bid came in for the gutters, it was double what I expected and it ate up almost all of my "Oh Crap" fund.

Then, when looking at the cedar shake on the sides of the dormers and the state of the dormer fascia board, I realized we'd need to do some repair work there too, so I called Matt, who has extensive experience repairing historical buildings. When his quote came back, it used up all of my "Oh Crap" fund, and even dipped into my "I'm screwed" fund. The problem, of course, is that the "I'm screwed" fund doesn't contain money. It consists of a roll of antacid and a bottle of aspirin. Unfortunately, Matt doesn't work for antacid OR aspirin (can you imagine), so I called him and we negotiated. I told him how much I had budgeted. He agreed to cut his labor rate by 10% and I agreed to do some of the work myself. It's all that work that has been eating into my posting time. I'm doing all the painting and I had to do demo of the dormer walls. I'm still not done with all that I'm supposed to do, but enough has happened since last Wednesday that I need to post.

Roger continued to do installation of the gutters all through last week, finally finishing them up Friday around noon. Sort of. Really, he just completed enough so that the roofers could come by on Monday. When Roger called me on Friday afternoon to tell me that the gutters were done, I asked him if I could run water through them over the weekend, just to see how they performed. No problem he replied.

So when I got home Friday night, I climbed to the top of the scaffolding to look at the shiny stainless steel gutters, and was dismayed to see that the first two seams I saw were riveted and NOT soldered. No need to run water to test those gutters. With seams like that, they are guaranteed to leak. I called Roger immediately to let him know he'd missed two seams and to ask him if he could do that after the roofers started. He said it was no problem to solder them during or after the roof installation and that, "I thought I'd done all the seams, but maybe I missed some." I've expressed concerns about Roger and his capabilities on the project in the past. This was further proof to me that while the end product looks great, Roger is not great about details and consistency. It concerns me more than a little. If these are the things I'm catching, what am I missing?

Anyway, much to my disappointment, I was unable to test the gutters over the weekend. Roger still needs to add the downspouts to the gutters, which I hope he'll be doing this week. I need to go around and check all the seams to make sure they are soldered. Short of those minor details (soldered seams and downspouts), the gutters are done! Here is a picture of a finished corner. It looks almost identical to the original gutter (which is great).

Here is a picture of the gutter interior. Notice that they have been in place all of two days, and they already need to be cleaned out.

Here is a cross section of the gutter. This matches the original gutter, with the exception that the interior gutter is stainless steel, rather than galvanized steel. You can see the decorative front attached to the interior gutter, which slips up onto the roof decking and is secured there.

With the gutters installed, the roofers were able to come out on Monday. In one day, they were able to get about 60% of the roof shingled. I'm hoping they will finish up today, but it may take them one more day. Putting on the flashing and roof vents will slow them down a bit.

The original roof had no roof vents. This really wasn't a problem as the roof was essentially cement. If the attic got to be 120 degrees, the cement handled it fine (of course it made the house very warm in the summer, but I'm only talking about the roof here). In the winter having a "closed" roof was an advantage. In the days of little insulation, the attic acted as a buffer to the rest of the house helping to keep it warm.

It's not possible to take the same course with our new roof. Our new roof is asphalt and asphalt exposed to 120 degree temperatures will fail prematurely, which is why you see roof vents on all the new houses. Most people find them to be unbearably ugly, so some clever fellow came up with a roof vent that is incorporated into the roof peak. Very clever really and attractive.

Unfortunately, one of the new roof vent systems is not an option for our roof. We have to use the older style vents, which sit up from the roof. I'm one of those people who think that they are ugly. One of the requirements of the roof job was to not put any roof vents on the front of the house. All the roof vents will be going on the back and the sides of the house. This will help keep the attic cooler and extend the life of the shingles.

"But Wait!" you say. "If the attic is cooler what will buffer the rest of the house from the cold?" The house is one big connected system. Changing the roof will affect the rest of the house. Depending on how "leaky" the old roof was, we might see a huge increase in our heating bills or a small one. I doubt we'll see an improvement. This all leads to the next project, which will be to rip up the attic floor boards, plug any air leaks coming up from the basement or the house interior (there are a lot) and then add to the five inches of pink fiberglass already in place. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

The masons continue to work away at the house, although they've been absent for the last two days as they stay out of the way of the roofers. I was hoping they would have been done by now, but I think they've been working on other jobs. So long as they finish up by the end of the year, I'll be happy.


DiploWhat said...

are you going to put screens on top of the gutters to keep the leaves out?

Mr. Kluges said...

That's the plan in the back of my head. Hopefully I can find screens that will work. We had them at our last house and they didn't work great. They kept falling into the gutters and they would occasionally get aligned all wrong. BUT it was a lot easier to fix those stupid screens then to clean out the gutters.