Thursday, October 14, 2010

Front Entry Roof Part 7

The roof is done. Roger worked part of the day Tuesday and Wednesday. Thursday two other guys came out to finish up the seams and to rework some of the blobby soldering work Roger did. The carpenters (as usual) did a top notch job. Last night I put on the new porch light and I'm calling the roof project done.

Of course it isn't really. There's a bit of caulking that needs doing and bit of painting, but as we'll never really be done with the house, I need to draw a line in the sand somewhere. In all, it took about 70 hours of work from the guys, although it should have taken less, considering the roofing debacle.

Here's a shot of the front of the house now.

Here's what the roof looks like.

And here are two shots of the soffit. Notice how carefully Jake mitered the bead board corners. And compare to some of the original shots.

The original bead board needed replacing, and the replacement bead board found in stores today is not of the same pattern as what is found on the house. So I bought a few Freud router bits and made my own bead board to match what was originally on the house. They're not machined as precisely as commercial bead board, but I am pleased all the same with how they turned out.

And now, before winter comes, its on to the next project.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Front Entry Roof Part 6

All weekend Ms. Huis and I fretted and worried, wondering what the result of our displeasure would be. Sunday night we received a mail from Matt indicating that he had forwarded our concerns to Roger and that he would be meeting with Roger early Monday morning.

After several phone calls between Matt and I Monday morning, Matt came back to us to say that while Roger was not admitting to any wrongdoing, he would tear off the roof panels and install them they way we wanted. That was it. No drama, no fuss. Just the way we wanted it to turn out. The only downside for us was the delay in the completion of the project. Roger wouldn't be out until Tuesday. Another day lost.

I did get a chance to test the gutters by filling them with water. There were no leaks and the pitch was sufficient. The weather the last ten days or so has also been unseasonably warm and dry. Here's looking on the bright side.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Front Entry Roof Part 5

Friday was the day they started the gutter and roof install.

I took Friday off, because I wanted to be there when they installed the roof for three reasons. First, I really, really want to know how hard this is to do. Second I want to know how much time it takes. Third I have a history with the metal shop doing this roof and it isn't all sunshine and bubbles.

When we opted to get the front entry done, I went to the historical carpenter that did the carpentry for the main roof project. Of all the contractors we've dealt with - plumbers, electricians, brick layers, roofers and metal workers, he is the only one that has met my expectations every single time. Matt has never, ever let me down. He's expensive and worth every penny.

I told Matt that I was doing everything through him - roof, gutters and carpentry. We talked about options and what I wanted. It was his recommendation that if I was committed to keeping the look of the integrated gutters, a metal roof was going to be the best bet. He said he would get a bid for the roof and gutters from Roger.

Roger owns the company who did the gutters on our main roof. There were (and to a lesser extent still are) some issues with our main roof gutters. They look great. Unfortunately there was too long a list of things that they "forgot" to do. I had to call them back three times after the installation to fix various things. And they were fairly serious items; support brackets missing, seams not soldered and metal folded backwards that needed to be replaced.

When Matt told me he was going with Roger, I made it very clear that Roger had the potential to do good work, but he needed to be watched very closely. If we went with Roger, it was Matt's responsibility to deal with him. Not mine. I wasn't going to chase him up like I did last time. Besides, I figured that Matt would have more leverage with Roger. If Roger screwed up, Matt might stop using him in the future.

Roger's bid came in at about 60% of the only other bid we had, and while Adam did really, really nice work, he was even harder to get a hold of than Roger. If I have to chase a contractor down for a bid, I figure he really doesn't want the work. So we went with Roger. And I was not fully comfortable with it, which is why I took Friday off.

Greg and an apprentice showed up on Friday morning before eight. This was good. I like it when guys show up ready to work. I talked to them off and on in the morning. While they worked on the gutters and the flashing, I worked in the garage on storm windows. When it looked like there was room on the roof, I'd climb up a ladder, watch them for awhile and ask a few questions. I tried not to annoy them and wanted them to know that I was interested in what was going on. The apprentice knew nothing. He was a gopher. Greg was friendly enough, but only bothered to answer my questions. He volunteered nothing.

After a few hours I was comfortable with Greg, he seemed to know his stuff and to my untrained eye, the gutters and the solder joints looked good. I got complacent. I got lazy. And then all hell broke loose.

Once they were done with the flashing and the gutter, they started on the roof panels. To understand what they did, it's necessary to understand the way a flat metal roof is installed. In some ways it's no different than a regular shingle roof. The covering is made of panels, (18" x 24") that are over lapped and crimped together. The upper course goes over the lower course, so that water flows down the roof without obstruction. Courses are staggered, so no seams line up. Here is a great resource about copper flat seam roofs (and other interesting bits about architectural use of copper too).

Initially the two of them were crowded on a corner of the roof and there was little room for me, so once they'd moved to the middle and there was some room, I popped my head up. They were about 40% done and I saw that they had installed the panels backwards. The lower courses of panels were on top of the higher ones. And they hadn't staggered the panels.

I immediately called them out. "Guys, you installed the panels backwards. And aren't the panels supposed to be staggered?" I was told it would be fine. It would all be soldered and be water tight. No worries. And he went back to work.

I wasn't going to fight him. That's why I hired Matt. I went in the house and called Matt. Matt listened and simply said that he wanted to see the roof before he talked to Roger. Considering it was 2:00 on a Friday I could understand this.

After I confronted Greg, the pace of his labors changed considerably. He went faster. By 3:30, he and his apprentice finished up and left, leaving the bottom course remaining, and the other 20 panels installed the wrong way.

I showed it to Ms. Huis after Greg left. She immediately noticed what was wrong (with no prompting). She was furious. I was just depressed, because I knew it meant phone calls and discussions, and uncertainty and conflict. And ultimately, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me." I crafted a nice long e-mail to Matt on Friday night, along with some pictures, in a professional tone which more or less said, "This isn't going to work. Here's why. We may have to rip off the panels and start over."

And so we waited all weekend, wondering would Matt be able to get Roger to fix this? Would we get our roof put on correctly? Was Roger just going to walk away? Would we need to get a different roofer? How much extra money was this going to cost us?

We didn't get an answer until Monday.

Here are pictures of our roof from Friday. The first is from the top of the roof, looking down. The flat roof on the entry isn't completely flat. It does have a slight patch. Notice that the last course of panels is missing. It's narrower than the other 18" panels and still needs to be fabricated. The last full course sits on top of the next course. During a rain storm, Water would flow towards that hump. The solder job on that seam would have to be perfect. And as soon as it failed for any reason, rain (or melting snow) would sneak in. Even worse, in the winter, the freeze/thaw cycle would force open the seam even more. And notice that the up and down seams are not staggered. Water that enters at one course can easily slip under the next course.

This is a nice shot taken by wife. It's the "water's view". Look at that deliciously large hole I'd like to run into. Again, better hope for a perfect solder joint.

Finally this is the seam between the flashing and the the very first course of panels. Because they started at the top of the roof and worked down, they screwed up from the very beginning. In this case Ms. Huis' hand is the water, straight down into the roof.

I've had better Fridays.

Front Entry Roof Part 4

I'm a bit behind, but that's mostly because I've been waiting to calm down before writing anymore. But I'm getting ahead of myself (even though I'm behind).

This post is about last Thursday. I wish I had pictures to show from Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning, because that's when they fabricated the gutters and roof panels for the entryway. I would have loved to have shown the sheet copper being cut and formed in the brake presses. But I don't have those pictures. I wasn't invited to the shop (nor did I ask), and as I only have so many vacation days, I worked on Thursday anyway.

Two guys showed up on Thursday around 1:00 to dry fit some of the gutters and drop off some material. No installation took place. Here are some pictures of what they dropped off.

Here is the gutter ready to go. It hasn't been fastened in yet.

This is a full cross section of the gutter. I'm a little puzzled as to how they made the two 90 degree bends on the right so tightly.

And here's a picture of the roof panels (and of me too). Two sides have the edges bent towards me. The other two sides have the edges bent away from me. When assembling the roof, the over seam and under seam lock together and then are hammered flat. Finally solder is applied to make the seams water tight.

I'll write about the disaster that was Friday tomorrow.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Front Entry Roof Part 3

I'm a bit behind on the days, but I will still blog the progress in the order that the work occurred. Wednesday, Matt and Jake finished up the carpentry required to prep for the roofing guys. The roofers came out today and took the final measurements for the roof after Matt and Jake finished up the carpentry and installed the ice and water shield.

I can't say enough good things about Matt and Jake. They are truly masters at what they do. They took the time to pitch the gutters. This was not strictly necessary as the pitch can be done by the roofers, but it's a nice extra touch.

This first picture shows the box gutters framed up.

Here's what it looks like from the bottom. The fascia is in place. The soffit will wait until after the roof is on.

And here's what it looks like so far. The roof line almost looks normal again.

This is the roof, waiting for the copper. Ice and water shield are in place.

Front Entry Roof Part 2

When we replaced our cement/asbestos main roof and gutters a few years ago, I did not take off enough time. Looking back now, I realize that things would have probably gone a lot smoother if I had been around more often to keep an eye on things.

I resolved not to make that mistake again even though this is a (relatively) small project. So when Matt (our contractor) told us that he had us down to start work the week of the 4th, I took vacation for a half day on Monday, all day Tuesday and Wednesday. Foolish, foolish me.

When I arrived at home at 11:00 am Monday, imagine my frustration when no one had shown up to work on the roof. I called Matt and that's when I learned that in contractor speak, "the week of Monday the 4th" means any day during the week that begins October 4th, EXCLUDING the actual day of October 4th.

Matt volunteered the following schedule. He and and Jake were coming out on Tuesday/Wednesday to work on the carpentry. Thursday, Greg (the roofing guy) would fabricate the roof in the shop and Friday/Monday Greg and company would come on site and install the roof. Matt and Jake would be back Tuesday/Wednesday of next week to do final tidy up.

So I rearranged my vactaion schedule and took Wednesday and next Monday off, to be around in case of questions, but also to learn how the were going to build up the roof. I have a side porch and a back porch that need roof work as well, and watching these guys might save me some dollars in the future (although in the end it will cost me a lot of time).

Matt and Jake did tear off Tuesday morning and found pretty much what we suspected - a lot of rot at the edges. The roof decking and framing that were away from the gutter were fine. Here's the corner framing that was under the gutter.

The decking though was still in good shape and nothing needed to be done with it.

Again, more rot, this time at the end of the gutter, where it butted up against the house. This is actually where some of the worst water damage in the house was. Water flowed through the gutter here, along the brick and then down into the dining room window, where it saturated the interior wall and damaged the plaster. When we tuck pointed the house a few years ago, it solved the water intrusion issue, although the water still leaked out of the gutter and along the outside of the house. Now finally, the water issue will be solved at the root cause.

Goodbye old tin gutters.

Here is the front entry denuded. The roof looks little and out of proportion to the entry way.

When I got home from work on Tuesday, this is what I saw. Matt and Jake sistered new framing next to the old, rebuild the rotted corners, pushed insulation into the space above the entryway (there had been none), and put the floor of the new gutter in place. I was thrilled to see that they had even pitched the floor of the new gutter appropriately. Technically this isn't necessary, as the roof guys will do this, but it's a nice touch and will certainly help. As I told them, the extra hour or two they took to get that pitch in place means I (or someone else likely) might get an extra five years out of the gutters and roof.

Here's one more shot of the framing, along with the blue tarp thrown over the top to protect the roof for the night.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Front Entry Roof Part 1

After my last post, you may be forgiven if you think that I had in fact

No such thing. Progress is being made. Windows have been painted and re-assembled. Trim and bead board are painted. The front door has been removed. Storm windows installed. Windows cleaned. Garage cleaned. And there are contractors on site today to start replacing our front entry roof and gutters.

I have been aching to pull down the rotten bead board since we first lined up our contractor Matt. If you've ever felt the need to pick at a scab, or pull at peeling, burnt skin, then you know the feeling. Yesterday I finally succumbed to the urge.

First take a look at this and take a guess as to what it might be.

Ignoring the leaves, this pile represents what is left of the corner framing of my entry roof. And after seeing this, if you are wondering what is left, take a look at this picture.

The red, metal bit in the corner is the underside of the integrated gutter. There is no wood left. It has all turned to mush. Here is one more shot of the framing.

You can see the wooden trough that the gutter sits in, and then the fascia board on the outside. If you didn't understand what an integrated gutter is, then this is a good way to see it.

We also had Dave the furniture refinisher come to take away the front door. The oak veneer on it is de-laminating, so we've opted to have him remove the existing veneer and add new. This means we needed to replace the front door with something. I call it my crack house door.

Lovely ehh? I'm hoping that when he is done, it will look like the interior door.

Check back again soon. I'm hoping (expecting?) that the roof construction will go on all week and I'll post pictures and comments as the work progresses.