I have wanted to start a series on “Roofing Horror Stories” or a “Wall of Shame” type projects. Today seems like that day has come; I will share this roofing project that was pretty extraordinary.
This was a project in Brookside area of Kansas City. If you are familiar, you know that this was an upscale J.C. Nichols old development in Kansas City; those are some grand old houses. The roof didn’t look anything out of the ordinary; easy to measure, easy to see from the ground, no surprises. However once I got on to the roof, I realized that there were eight (8) layers of roofing material on the roof. You can often re-roof or install a new roof over an old one, but you cannot re-roof this many times. Typically if there are two (2) layers of roofing shingles, the next roof project is a complete tear-off. In this case, there had never been a tear-off; every new roof was installed over the previous roof.
To illustrate just how big of a deal this is, these are pretty big houses and this one was ~35 squares (each square is 100 square feet). In my DIY blogs, I identified that architectural shingles weight 300-450 pounds/square. In Brookside, you would almost always upgrade, so let’s assume 350 pounds/square. This is 12,250 pounds/layer of roofing material on the house. Eight (8) layers of roofing material equates to 98,000 pounds. I wonder how many of these were installed by professional roofing contractors (that understand the layer limitations) and how many of these were installed by DIY-installers? All of this needs to come off the roof before we can even start, and that is a lot of labor and roll-off container/dumpster. While I would normally order a single roll-off, in Brookside it is difficult to get trucks in and out, so getting the largest roll-off containers is impossible on some streets. This meant that the disposal company was going to need to get several trucks and roll-off containers, one-at-a-time.
Let’s just say my bid was not the lowest. I would also say, I am really glad I trusted my gut to get the ladder out and get on the roof to prepare an accurate estimate of my costs for this project.
And here is how the rest of the story unfolded. That 98,000 pounds on the roof; for perspective, this weighs more than a fully loaded semi tractor-trailer on the roof. This is certainly a testament to the construction quality in Brookside; again what you would hope and expect. All of this weight built up slowly over time, the life of the house. The structure of the house accommodated through compression and deflection, and as this happened very slowly it also was perhaps imperceptible and resulted in minimum adverse effects. But the removal of 98,000 pounds happened within a single week, prior to reinstalling the new roof at approximately 15,000 pounds (upgraded shingles). Have you ever been remote camping, accessible only by backpack? Then you know how it feels at the end of the day when you remove your pack? You have a new spring in your step. Well that house released all of the compression and deflection that had built over many years in a single moment. Every window and door that was open at that moment, no longer closed. Every window and door that was closed at that moment, no longer opened. And whose fault do you think this was placed? The roofing contractor – that was the only thing that changed between windows and doors working flawlessly and suddenly not.
And then the lawyers get involved. At this point, the only winners are the lawyers themselves; every other party loses.
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