Roof Woes…

We’ve been having some minor issues with the roof on The Cupola. Fairly typical stuff for a 150-year old building with a flat roof.

Pics are at the bottom…

Basically, if the roof is in okay shape, a yearly trip up to patch developing cracks and problem areas will usually take care of things.

We had a couple of minor leaks, but since this building has no roof access, it has not been easy for me to get up there and take care of things.

We hired a guy to do this last year, but the work wasn’t great, didn’t stop the leaks, and he vanished and won’t return calls when I tried to get him out to honor his warranty. We will have a … “discussion” … if we cross paths again.

Anyway, decided it was time to address this and began work on installing a roof hatch for access and a future skylight. We envision the rooms upstairs being high-end lofts at some point. The work we started is detailed here.

So, to sum up…minor problems…but time to address it…work in progress.

Well, we had us a storm this weekend. Make that a STORM.

Shortly after midnight a fast moving line of severe storms swept through the city. I decided to head up to the store to make sure the minor leaks were addressed and no merchandise was in danger.

Got to the store, checked upstairs, made a couple minor adjustments to drip buckets, congratulated myself on having the problems well in hand, and decided to head back and get some sleep.

As I approached the front door I saw a large sign go blowing by. I peeked my head out the door just in time to catch it as it blew back may way. Since the rain was blowing sideways (and hitting our front door/windows despite the large canopy) I decided I’d wait a bit.

About two minutes later water started leaking down in the front of the store where we had not seen water before.

I shoved endangered merchandise out of the way, grabbed a mop bucket for the drips, and decided to head upstairs to see what was what.

We had been working in the front room up there…there was a very minor leak…I supposed we could have displaced the bucket or the work could have slightly aggravated the issue.

Now, you have to picture this…the upstairs is vacant…there is little lighting up there. I grabbed a couple extra buckets and my LED worklight and headed up.

I shine my light in the front room and basically am stunned. I look at my two buckets and set them down. I seriously have no idea where to start. It’s *raining* in the room. Water from everywhere. No single drip or even a stream…it’s raining. I have no hope at all of catching this mess. It wasn’t doing this when I was up here not 10 minutes ago.

I can’t even begin to imagine what happened…none of the work we were doing could have done this…and this area is close to the front of the building (the roof slopes to the back) so there should not have been all that much water in this area.

Basically, I wanted to give it up and go back to bed.

Of course, I never give up. Getting things done in this world takes skill, a little luck, willingness to work, and sometimes, flat-out pig-headed stubbornness.

I put the buckets where they would catch something at least, and headed down stairs to do damage control.

One nice thing about these lines of storms is they tend to be short lived.

I spent the next 3 hours soaked to the skin, mopping, moving stuff around, knocking down saturated ceiling tiles, and trying to keep ahead of the flood.

It was a tremendous amount of water…I couldn’t even call for help…I’d left my phone on the bedside table.

Fortunately the pig-headed stubbornness kicked in.

The storm finally abated, and eventually the water slowed to couple of trickles I could put stuff under to catch.

Lost ceiling tiles and insulation, but otherwise a success. No damaged merchandise!

Somewhere around 3:45am I made it home. I had to drive around fallen trees and branches in a number of places on the short trip. What a mess!

Next morning…up despite lack of sleep and an oncoming chest cold (NOT motivated) to see what’s what.

A single trip upstairs is all it took to know…I could see daylight through the ceiling in the front room. This, my friends, is never a good sign.

It’s a bit intimidating too…

Called friends that own other shops on the square so they could check for damages, and so I could use a neighbor’s hatch to get up there and see how bad the roof is.

The high winds coming over the front of the building seem to have managed to suck a section of the roofing off the roof deck and flipped it over. The area is about 5 x 12 feet or so (pics) and is a couple hundred pounds of layered tar and paper. This area is just about in the area we are planning on putting the hatch…so things could have been worse for sure!

Turns out we lost a window on the north side upstairs too. I had to sweep a lot of glass up out of the street (those windows are 10 feet tall, lost the top half).

The plan hasn’t changed much. Cut the hatch, frame the hatch, seal up the hatch. Just have added, seal up whatever area in the roof that missing after we install the hatch.

Oh, and the biggie…do it all next weekend before we get more rain. Yikes.

Just for a little bit of scale…those boards are a full 12″ wide.

More pictures and pictures of the work next weekend!

Cupola roof fix…step the first…

Our 1860’s commercial building on the square needs some tinkering on the roof. Mostly I just need to get up there and fix a few issues, then do some annual maintenance.

It’s time to get started.

Step the one: Access
We don’t have a hatch to get on the roof (previous owners removed it and used neighboring buildings…for a variety of reasons not an option).

So, I need to make one. Figured I’d take that opportunity to repair an issue that is causing a leak and a structural concern. Namely, somebody moved a wall near a 100 years ago and left several roof beams unsupported. This caused a sag in the beams and in the roof surface (and a leak in the sagged area).

You can see the broken trusses here, the three closest the windows connect to nothing:
removedbeadboard
They had sagged well over 5 inches and popped much of the beadboard off that ceiling. We removed the rest.

I then spanned the room with 2?x12?x16? beams across the first three (closest to the window) unsupported beams. Once I had those in place, I wrapped them with great big honkin’ web ratchet straps and use a combination of excessive force from the straps and excessive force from sledge hammering the beams to take the sag out and get everything lined back up.
ceilingbraces
It went VERY well. I got the first three in place (closest to the windows) and was able to remove the sag from the roof. The sheer work involved here simply doesn’t show in the pictures. A LOT of force and time was required to straighten everything out.

I should mention the several hundred pounds of pigeon crap in the attic, which is another reason to remove the beadboard.

Next step, a little more framing/bracing, another crossbeam to install, then I get to chop a hole in the roof! (that’ll be an interesting day)

Much thanks to my friend Mike for helping!