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June 23, 2007

We Have a Roof (almost)!

roof 

When we first decided to put a standing seam metal roof on Gypsy Rose, we never anticipated what it would involve. The first supplier we went to greeted us with the caution, “You know that a standing seam roof is not for the do-it-yourselfer.” Undaunted, we requested a quote for materials. The price we received was more than twice what the original estimate had been, so it was back to internet to research other manufacturers.

roof installation

My search led me to Everlast Roofing and luck would have it that the supplier in Connecticut was right around the corner – Wicke’s Lumber/Bradco Supply. This is going to be easy, so we thought.

Those of you who have been following this blog know that we have been waiting for roofing materials since last December. It’s been a nightmare that includes the worst customer service we’ve experienced yet (Wicke’s Lumber/Bradco Supply in Sandy Hook, Connecticut), and a manufacturer that cannot read a clearly laid out spec (Everlast Roofing). It took months to get a quote, weeks to receive delivery, only to find out that the manufacturer had made a big mistake. Back to the supplier we went, and last Wednesday (more than six months after the ordeal had begun) we finally got all the materials – or so we thought.

roof

I had never done much with sheet metal before, but, hey, how hard could it be? The materials don’t come with much for an “installation manual” because they assume that the roofer has been professionally trained. Okay then, I’ll find some “training.” I found some PDF files online and a video (from a competing roofing materials manufacturer). On Thursday, we were ready to begin.

roof

Luckily, the panels are pre-cut to the right length, but that's about as far as it goes. The rest is up to the roofer.

roof

We weren’t satisfied with the boxy end trim that is commonly installed. We wanted a nice clean “formed rake” installation, giving a low-profile edge to the gable ends. That, of course, was the hard way to install. It requires cutting the seams off the starter and end panels and “hemming” the long edge of the panels so they can hook over and “lock” with the gable trim.

roof

Next, the end of each panel has to be “hemmed” (a one-inch fold that forms a hook) so that they can lock onto the eave trim.

roof

After two twelve hour days, we had all the panels in place. In the process, I learned a lot about installing metal roofs. Gypsy’s roof came out very nice, but not without a lot of sweat and spilled blood.

roof

For two days, Marion would often hear, “uh, oh, that’s a bad one!” She came to know that the worse the cut was, the less I’d say. A box of Band-Aides sat nearby and I’d climb down off the ladder so she could wrap another strip around another finger (or elbow, or knee) before too much blood was spilled on the panels. After a couple of good rainstorms, the streaks of blood will be gone and the body will heal.

roof

Oh, yes, and then there was the fall off the shed - into a thick patch of poison ivy and rasberry bushes! I laid there for a moment, taking inventory of the bones and joints. All seemed to still function (for the moment), so on I went.

roof

Finally, on Saturday, we would complete the roof by installing the trim. It was another learning curve. The online manuals and videos we’d found gave a hint at what was involved, but we had to figure out the rest. Much time was spent while the two of us debated the pros and cons of various trim application techniques, but we eventually came to consensus on how to proceed. (“Z” clips, butyl tape, sealant, rivets, locking hems, etc. etc.)

roof

By 5:30 pm we were down to the last task – installing the trim/flashing on the shed roof. We took out the pre-bent panel, cut it to length, mitered the ends to fit under the gable roof, and slid it in place to test the fit. “CRAP!” It turns out that Everlast Roofing made a mistake on that one, too. They’d bent it to the pitch of the main roof (13:12) rather than the shed roof spec (6:12). We tried to “adjust” the angle ourselves with no luck. Back to Wicke’s/Bradco. More weeks of waiting.

roof

 We’re almost there!

 

June 20, 2007

Screen Door Nostalgia

screen door

How many have had the pleasure of hearing a wooden screen door slap closed against a wooden stop? It’s a sound that I heard thousands of times as a kid – every time I came in the back door.

screen door

What do we hear today? The hissing sound of a hydraulic door closer pulling a metal storm door into a metal stop? No thank you. Gypsy Rose is going to greet her guests with a bit of nostalgia. We wanted the “smack” of wood against wood, pulled closed by a simple spring.

screen door

We began with a threshold milled from 5/4 Meranti and a built frame to match. (Nope, there are no pre-hung doors in this project.) Next, we searched for the smallest Douglas fir wooden storm door we could find (2’ 6” wide x 6” 8” tall). We had to cut it considerably to fit our opening – 2’ 4” wide x 6’ 3” tall – but the scaled down rails and stiles were much more in proportion with Gypsy’s dimensions.

screen door

For the finishing touch, we found a remarkably simple, beautifully engineered latch and lock set made by Von Morris. It took much of the afternoon to hand-cut the 2” x ½” x 3” deep mortise for the assembly, mortise the latch plate, and install the hardware, but, in the end I gave the door a swing and there it was, “smack!” That resoundingly nostalgic and oh so familiar sound of a wooden screen door striking a wooden stop.

screen door

June 08, 2007

We Thought We Had A Roof

Roof delivery

So here it is now June and Gypsy Rose still awaits her standing seam metal roof. It’s a saga that began last November and just won’t seem to end.

roof delivery

I’ve come to the conclusion that the only people who have access to metal roofing supplies are roofing contractors. The stuff just isn’t easy to get for the do-it-yourselfer. Here’s the brief rundown on what we’ve experienced.

Last November, I did the research on metal roofing manufacturers. I ended up settling on a product made by Everlast Roofing. There was an added convenience in that the supplier is right around the corner from Marion’s home in Connecticut. I gave them the specs. They got a quote from Everlast. I was hit with sticker shock. The supplier had given me a price per foot for the roofing panels, but the complete package (trim pieces, clips, screws, etc.) came in at a price that was over 50% higher than I’d expected. I called Everlast. They told me that the supplier must have misplaced a decimal point somewhere. I called the supplier. They did not respond. Winter set in. The roof was delayed until spring.

roof delivery

Skip ahead five months. I went back to the supplier and asked for another quote, this time including the roof for the shed addition. Although they were the absolute worst about returning phone calls, we eventually got the new quote. This time, even though we had more roof to cover, the quote was more than $200 lower than the previously received number. What gives?

Turns out that suppliers use a very wide and seemingly random latitude on pricing these sorts of things – perhaps seeing how much commission they can get away with? For someone like me, it’s frustrating at best because it seems impossible to get an honest answer. Every time I’d stand face-to-face with the supplier I’d get the distinct impression that I was not hearing the truth or the whole story.

Even though the price was still higher than we’d originally expected, we decided it was time to give in. We ordered the roofing materials. The delivery truck arrived early one sunny morning. Everything was well packaged and intact. The weather forecast was good for getting the roof on over the next couple days before returning to Vermont. I was excited. We seemed on the verge of having a roof at last.

roof delivery

Not so fast (as if any of this process has been fast). Upon closer inspection of what had just been delivered, I found that many of the trim pieces were of the wrong type and that they’d been bent to the wrong pitch. I called Everlast and pointed out the error. Amazingly, the customer service rep told me, “Oh, I guess someone didn’t read that far.” She went on to say, “Well, 95% of our roofs are of this other type, so we just did yours the same way.” (without reading my complete spec) Crap! Here we go again.

porch trim

Marion and I drove to the supplier. As we approached the counter, the man we’d been dealing with looked up nervously, afraid to ask what was wrong now. We told him. We gave him the detailed list of what needed to be replaced. He called Everlast. I spent the next day installing porch trim instead of a roof. We drove to Vermont. The saga of the roof continues . . .

porch trim