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January 2011
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WordPress is a great tool for creating blogs, especially for housebloggers who have a desire for show and tell like me.  There is a vibrant community that supports WordPress and there are also assholes. Free is not necessarily without cost.

A great but technical article on the hidden dangers of using “free” WordPress themes.


Roofing – World Class and Second Class

The roof on your house is probably one of the last things that you think about. Until it leaks, gets damaged, or wears out. Last October a freak hailstorm happened on my birthday which severely damaged a large number of roofs in the Phoenix area. So much so that insurance companies sent damage response teams here to get repairs underway as quickly as possible.  A number of my clients got affected and I recommend only one roofing company. Collum Roofing.

Before I continue, a quick note about contracting in Arizona. Being a Right to Work state, there is no requirement to have your employees actually proficient in the trade they are being paid for. Contractors here hire on a per job basis and pays ‘piecework rates’, which is a set amount for any particular job. There is nothing wrong with this if you are good at what you do, but the downside is finding yourself part of a crew whose tools still have the price stickers on them, contractors who supply cheap materials, and projects run by accountants rather than folks who care about quality. Hourly workers are like pink monkeys here. Crews get hired off of street corners and are together long enough to get the job done before needing to find another job. Even skilled tradesmen get this treatment. Keep this in mind when you look for contractors for your house.

In looking for a contractor in Arizona, the standard License, Bonding, and Insurance questions should be asked, but more important is asking how long the employees have been with the company, as the better companies have stable work forces, who are treated fairly and just do a better job.

Recently I managed a project requiring re-roofing, repair and painting. First the setup.

The front.

The design of this roof with the gables and the lunacy of the entryway is a rant for another time. Note on the right side of this photo the blotches on the metal drip edge. When this roof was applied, the original roofer used 1” galvanized drip edge and the painter did not prime the metal, which would have required another step and would have resulted in a better job. The trim had been repainted once since construction.

One of the first things I did after making the shingle selection and deciding on a standard pre-finished brown drip edge was to computer color match the new trim paint color to the drip edge. This adds to the finish which you will see soon.

The Rear
One of the oddest bits was the back side of the roof having three layers of shingles. This is unusual as this is the north facing side of the roof and is not as exposed to damage like the south sides of roofs especially in Arizona.

One other interesting item is that there is no metal drip edge. More on that shortly.
Last is the rear patio.

Re-roofing consists of tearing off the old roof, down to the decking. This includes the shingles, underlayment, old drip edge, vent caps, and or lifting or removing HVAC units. Anything less is bullshit and you will be sorry. Maybe not tomorrow, but a lot sooner than a world class job.
This gets the roofer to the point that a complete damage assessment can be made. There are always surprises when you get the roof torn off. In the case of this project, Rodney from Collum and I had a good idea going in what was necessary. Having worked with Collum on other projects, the Roof Repair Project, Artroom Expansion, we have a great working relationship.
One of the first things the roofers did was to tear off the rear patio so I could replace the fascia and decking while they were tearing off the rest of the roof. This allowed us to minimize the time that the roof was exposed. Roofing in Arizona in January has two significant drawbacks. One is that it is our winter rainy season, the other is cold temperature making shingles stiff.
World Class and Second Class
As our project was going on, the house next door was also getting re-roofed, by somebody else. I emphasized that as you will see in a moment. I am providing an illustration of a standard roof detail.

It is important to note that after the tear off, and any repair, the base sheet on a shingle roof is a felt underlayment that extends to the edge of the roof, and gets covered with the metal drip edge. This provides the first layer of protection for your house. The eaves and fascia’s  take the brunt of punishment in any roofing project. Neglecting this is a recipe for disaster later on.  It is not economical to save drip edge for reuse, nor is it a good practice in a quality roof job. The same goes for the other sheet metal items like vent caps.

The diagram above illustrates the order of a quality roof job. On top of the drip edge is the starter course, which is a solid shingle without granules. It extends beyond the drip edge to keep water that much farther from your exposed wood. Also note that we are using a 2” drip edge which completely covers the 1×2” wood drip edge.

With the shingles it looks like this.  This is what a world class job looks like.

This is next door.

Not only did they not completely strip the roof, they left the old drip edge and starter course, and just shingled over it. You can tell this by the paint color as well as the over paint on the bottom of the shingles.

The house next door also has a patio. This is their roofers idea of a complete job.

Here again they left the old drip edge, did not remove the old vent material and it looks like they didn’t even parge the shingles where the roof meets the patio fascia.

Here is how it is done right. Not only is there new underlayment, drip edge and fascia,(details are here) there is also counter flashing to the edge of the roof to avoid the dry rot which created the problem with the old fascia. The counter flashing gives the water a place to exit the roof.

Here is our re-roof in progress. Note the new sheetmetal vents, clean work area and not visible is the fact that the shingles extend behind the gable and not just up to it. (this is one of those PITA areas) Also they are using air nailers and not staples. This is  a significant difference, that could consume an entire posting, (nails work better than staples) but for the sake of brevity trust me on this.

One of the other details that set a world class job apart is the details. This is the finish next door.

Note that they reused the old fittings and caps. Actually they never reset them.

Here is our job. New covers, properly set and painted to match. This is not an extra, this is how they do it.

The last detail to demonstrate why I use and recommend Collum is the front entry.

This is the entry. One of the worst parts of this design is that most of the water that hits the front of the roof gets funneled down here.

Here is one of the inside corners.

The elements have taken their toll.

Here is the finish detail. After replacing some of the sheathing,  repairing the trims and fascia, the roofers extended the starter course below and underneath the corner, shingled and wrapped the shingle over the edge and wrapped it beneath the gable end.

This is the finished project.

The paint helped but the roof is the star of the show. No more roof worries for years.

So if you are anywhere in the Phoenix area and need roofing, Collum Roofing is who I use and highly recommend. Their phone number is (602) 437-1184. Or you can request a quote online. Tell them the remodgeek sent ya.

Patio Cover Repair

Due to October’s Hailstorm, the roofing industry in Arizona has been busy. Insurance companies have been opting to replace the shingle roofs rather than trying to repair them as the damage has been severe. Part of a quality roofing companies work is to warranty their work. To do this, they need to have a solid surface to attach their materials. In a tear off, defects may show up that require replacement of sheathing, fascia and or trim. This will affect the final cost of repairs. Structural repairs are not usually part of a roofers job.A recent project  I did as a residential project manager illustrates this.

Patio covers are a common addition to Arizona houses, and are made from light gauge steel to wood framing. This is a typical wood framed patio cover.

Because of the construction type and slope, this cover was roofed with roll roofing as the slope is too gradual to support shingles. Note that the fascia boards exhibit “dry rot” across the face as well along the side where it meets the house. Improper roofing and flashing allowed water to pond and seep into the fascia damaging it as well as the roof sheathing. This cannot be roofed without being repaired.


Here is a closer view of the right side damage.

You can see where the corner has collapsed on the left side. On the right side the damage is more subtle but equally bad. The problem here is that there was no flashing installed under the original shingle roof where it meets the patio fascia. This is probably ignorance on the part of the guy who did this.

Here is the underside where somebody attempted to patch the problem rather than corrected it.

Once the tear off was complete this is what we found. A much more involved area than was seen from below.

Looking at the other side we find an ‘interesting’ repair. On the surface someone strapped the corner with sheet metal.

Underneath they blocked it.

In the center of the patio we saw on the surface of the fascia more dry rot.

Underneath we saw this.

Once the deck was exposed there was more damage then shown.


We start by replacing the fascia all around.  This is a shot of our problem corner.

The front pieces are in place, and it is time to insert the end rafter. The brown piece attached to the underside sticking out is acting as a third hand as I place the end fascia board.

Here is a detail shot of the inside.

The outside blocking was removed to get the fascia in place, which I fastened to the original roof with 3” deck screws. The 2×4” block inside supports the transition between the two roof planes.

In sheathing the deck I used plywood clips as shown.

Because the cover was framed at 24” centers with 1/2” plywood, clips are necessary to provide the support for the dead and live loads of this cover. Clips are a PITA, but are part of doing a good job.

A brief interlude regarding flat roofs.

A lot of flat roofing is done with standard roll roofing, which when applied correctly functions well. Unfortunately this is not the case in Arizona. This project illustrates this in spades. We will replace this with Torch Applied Roll Roofing. Below is a diagram of a typical construction detail and the roofing.

The major point of a  roof is to keep water out of your house . Regardless of the roofing style – hip, gable, flat, etc. the carpentry is the same. Rafters, fascia, sheathing, and or wood drip edges. The diagram below illustrates the preferred method of getting ready to roof.

The Torch Applied Roll Roofing system is different in a couple details. There is a base sheet, that is fiberglass rather than felt. The fiberglass sheet is nailed to the sheathing in case years down the road the roof needs replacement, and also  acts as a fire stop for the torch application of the roll roofing.

It is important to note in almost all asphalt roofing systems(shingle, roll), the base sheet(roofing felt) is covered with the metal drip edge and counter flashings were appropriate. This ties down the base sheet at the perimeter of the roof and provides a handy guide for the roofers in establishing the overhang when applying the shingles, etc. Trying to save them is an exercise in futility and foolishness  and is only done by bad roofers. You cannot get a quality job this way.

This is one of those deals where you may think you are getting a deal, but trust me, you are not.

The Torch applied roll roofing is heated with a torch and rolled onto the fiberglass base sheet where it bonds to it forming a waterproof roof giving you years of use. Highly Recommended.

Here is the almost finished fascia. On top of the 2×6” fascia we nailed a 1×2” which is called a drip edge/batten which brings the elevation flat to the top edge of the plywood. In this photo, the roof side is loose to allow the roofer to install the counter flashing which was not done in the original build and will prevent the rotting problem which led to this repair.

Here is our problem corner ready for roofing.

I mentioned counter flashing earlier. Here is a photo of it in action.

Note that it extends all the way down to the edge of the roof giving the water a clear path and not creating an area to rot the fascia which is one of the things that started this project.

And who are these roofing wizards? Collum Roofing.