Monday, October 23, 2006
Flat Roof & Parapet Story
I've posted here and there about the roof and parapet, but I never really shared the whole story. It was definitely a complex problem that we had to deal with and well worth sharing. It really illustrates how many resources there are out there for finding solutions to your home improvement problems.
We had our flat roof torn off in June. This uncovered a our very deteriorated parapet wall. Our roofing company said, "Just cover it up- no one will ever see it." They were going to put our new rubber roof right over it and bury the problem. We were not so sure this was the right move.
First we called up the mason that had just finished tuckpointing our building to ask his opinion. He said "If the roofing company says it's okay, I wouldn't worry about it." We didn't trust his judgement, so we called up a Mason we found on our Angie's list to come out and take a look. A salesperson came over and said the entire parapet needed to be completely rebuilt and this would cost about $6K. Now we had 2 entirely differing opinions about what should be done. The roofing company probably wanted to just finish the job and get paid. Our original mason didn't seem to want to come back and didn't care much (We won't be hiring him again). And the new masonry company wanted a job ($$$).
Steve then went to the Masonry Association Website . He actually called them and spoke to them about our situation. They said, "It sounds like you have a bunch of charlatans on your hands. What you need to do is hire a Masonry Consultant that does not do work; they just evaluate the job and make recommendations."
Based on this discussion and the referrals they gave us, we hired Walter Laska from Masonry Technologies Inc. to come in for $300 and tell us what should be done. He came out and provided a written report, a detailed blueprint (actually a sketch) and a material list. The consultant also said that our parapet wall was one of the worst he had ever seen condition-wise (deteriorated mortar joints, spalled brick etc...). This confirmed our gut reaction to seeing the wall and our hesitation in covering it up.
Shortly thereafter, we went to a our Masonry Supply store and purchased all the materials needed, which included Chicago common brick, different types of mortar, flashing, roof caulking, and much more.
Steve spent evenings and weekends grinding out the deteriorated joints. It kept raining, which delayed the work repeatedly. We also were living with a temporary base sheet that the roofing company put on, which is not a real roof and no gutter. It just kept raining and we kept getting more nervous about leaks and damage if this temporary roof failed. We had just renovated the 2nd floor and alot was at stake if water got in. We also were having water leaks in our enclosed back porch, which was not good for the structure.
Had we not had so many other projects going on and winter coming, we could have finished the job on time to get our roof completed for fall. (The roof job was on hold for completion until the parapet walls were rebuilt) Steve did manage to completely grind all the joints out, but alas that problem of not enough time came into play.
We were extremely fortunate that we had our contractors around (the ones who renovated the 2nd floor this summer and were still on site working) and they volunteered to help finish the job. They happen to be from Bulgaria and were laying bricks at the age of 7! According to them, lumber is scarce in Bulgaria and everything is brick, concrete and stone. They did a great job- very tidy work and with 2 guys finished the job in 2 full days. Even though we had to bring in outside help, we saved about $3K doing it this way over hiring a mason to do the entire job.
Here you see the roof tiles that run around the edge of the parapet. Steve chipped 100 years worth of tar off of every last one. I told him we have the tidiest roof in town now.
So even though this was by no means a disaster, it was quite stressful while we were figuring out what to do and living with a single asphalt base sheet layer for a roof. On windy days, I would just cringe.
Just last week the roofing company came and out the roof on. I'm sleeping much better since then especially when it rains. Now if we could just find the right tenants for the 2nd floor!