Roof Matters

This post has been really difficult for me to write. It has been sitting in drafts for almost two weeks.

Two Fridays ago, the contractor I hired to install my roof arrived and started the installation.  Friday was a pretty stressful day.  I chose this contractor because they had done really good work for my parents and I left message after message with several other roofing companies who never called me back.  I knew they hadn’t done many metal roofs, but because I knew the quality of their work and they were familiar with my tiny house, I hired them.  Perhaps I should have pushed harder with other roofers, perhaps I should have… Hard to say, what’s done is done. 

The roofing panels had been dropped off that the house in December and the installation had been delayed a couple of times over the course of the past month due to weather and other commitments on the contractors part.  Each delay was  stressful as the weather got colder, the winds stronger and my tarp got weaker.  Before the snow started falling, the tarp had started loosing grommets and it was attached at fewer and fewer points.  Over the past month we have also had some really wicked wind storms.  So by the time they came to do the roof, I was anxious to get the roof on.

They removed the tarp and as soon as the roof came down one of the guys had to leave because they didn’t have the right tools on hand to cut the panels.  I stayed calm.  They marked out the positions of the strapping on the roof for the placement of the 4″ screws.  Once the team was back together they started installing the roof, but they repeatedly asked me questions about the roof that concerned me, I hired them to install the roof and trusted that they knew what they were doing.  They debated as to which end of the panels should sit on top of the overlap, how much the panels should overlap.  Panels were bulging as the screws were put in.  I was a mess at the end of the day.  They had also not finished to roof by the end of the day, and promised to return to finish it the next week as the weather looked promising.

I debated with the contractor about what he called the finishing elements of the roof, which I found confusing, because those elements went under the roofing panels so how could they be the finishing.  He kept insisting that those elements couldn’t be determined until the roof was installed. I felt uneasy.

Saturday and Sunday were construction days with Stefan.  When asked, he confessed that the roof didn’t look right.  So, Monday I called one of the roofing companies I had originally contacted because they were in my city and asked if they would take a look at my roof.  The owner of the company was over within the hour and took a look at the roof and then sat down with me for the next half hour letting me know what was missing, what mistakes had been made and what my options were moving forward.

So here is what I learnt… when installing a metal roof, there is quite a bit more flashing involved than with metal shingles.  Although Stefan installed flashing under the siding of the dormers, there were pieces of flashing that will have to be added (we have to redo the siding on the sides of the dormers). I learned that my roof can stay as is until the spring when it will be warmer and easier to work on the roof.  I learned that I have good instincts and that I should allow myself to listen to them.  I learned that I have a couple of good options going forward to repair the roof.  I learned that the contractor is willing to look at how to remedy the situation.  Nothing much has happened since that Monday when I sat down with Paul, who inspected my roof.  Paul writes a very helpful blog on roofing – please check it out if you are looking into roofing options, I wish I had.  Here is a link to his blog

Please note:  this post has been written not to bash the contractor, but because I hope that someone else can learn from my experience. 

2 thoughts on “Roof Matters”

  1. Hi Natalie,

    Thank you for the mention. In general, every metal roofing system that I know of comes with written installation instructions, often downloadable from the manufacturer’s site. It is a useful exercise to go through this and see what elements seem to apply in a given situation. When hiring a contractor, you should discuss the installation instructions with them. If they have done this type of work before and are comfortable with it, they will explain which elements (flashings, fasteners, etc.) they will use and where. If they don’t want to tell you, or can’t explain, then I would regard that as a “red flag”. I know the contractor in question, and he does do good work, but in this case he was not familiar with the system, and it was a case of not knowing what he didn’t know.

    When training workers or contractors who are not familiar with the various metal roofing systems, I tell them to put their roofing knowledge into a safe box, and enter the training area without any preconceptions. Once the training is finished, and we’ve covered the principles, then they can retrieve their prior roofing knowledge and examine what they can use, and what is no longer relevant. Certain things are similar between asphalt and metal roofing. Some things are very different. Eh. That’s what training and experience are for.

    I find your project very inspiring, as is your spirit for taking this on. It will end in a good place.


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