Posted to Arkansas-First-Timer by Jack in Trumann, AR
I didn't realize how long it's been since I posted. Let me give you an update. I'm almost in the dry, as the title shows. I don't currently have any pictures to post. I've been using an old CD250 camera of ours to take daily photos and I had about 150 pictures that I lost when the CD I was using somehow became corrupted when I tried to download the pictures. I do have a few pictures, but I don't have them with me.
Anyway, all the rafters are up and the decking is on and most of the shingles have been laid. In fact, all of the shingles on the main roof have been laid with the exception of some decorative "eyebrows" on the house that still need shingles, but that is minor by comparison to the main roof. I've used about 103 squares of shingles so far. Also, the roofers are my framers, so they haven't totally completed their framing yet. I'll get into that below...
I had to fire my first sub when I started the roof. I hired a guy whom I'd been hearing about from others who was supposed to be a good roofer. He quoted me a good price, so we set up a start date and I ordered the materials. He was supposed to show up at 7:00 on Monday, July 16th. So I took the day off to make sure they got a good start and had everything they needed; plus I wanted to monitor his work. I showed up at the job site at 6:30 and hung around until 8:30, no roofers! Now, I've seen this a couple of times already in this project so I about half expect the subs to show up late or not at all on the day they are supposed to start, but it is still infuriating to have to deal with people like that (end of rant).
Anyway, I had the day off so I went with my Dad up to Jonesboro to the local metal recycler where he sold some old air conditioner coils and aluminum. While he was doing that, I called the roofer to see where he was and found out that he had showed up at the house after we left. When we got back, I was immediately concerned because the guy had jumped right into the roofing, but he started on the roof over the front porch instead of the main part of the roof. And instead of just laying felt over the entire roof first and then shingling, he was just laying the felt as he worked his way up with the shingles. Now that in and of itself isn't such a big deal, but it is opposite of what I've seen most roofers do. Also, the porch should have been the last place to be shingled, not the first. That is because the porch is the ideal place to climb out onto the main roof and as such saw a lot of traffic throughout the roofing part of the project; consequently it received a lot of wear and tear from foot traffic.
Also, the guy didn't leave much overhang around the edges of the roof, less than half an inch. Again, that is more of a preference thing from what I've read; I like mine to overhang about an inch and I told him that. In my research I've read a few messages from professional roofers who do not leave an overhang; but most do. After I spoke to the roofer about it, he started leaving an overhang and we left it at that. But then I noticed pretty quickly that this guy was extremely slow. He worked for me for four days during which most real roofers would have laid somewhere between 40 and 60 squares, but he only laid about 10 squares of shingles! Now, that is extremely slow for a roofer; in fact, I've done a few roofs myself (none of the caliber of my new house) and I know for a fact that I can lay shingles faster than that by myself, using a hammer; and he uses a nail gun and five helpers!
But, even that isn't why I ended up firing the guy. No, I fired him because I noticed that he was putting nails in the flashing in my valleys (in the middle of the valleys!) and he installed my step flashing incorrectly. I'd been leaning toward letting him go almost since he started, but once I started worrying about having a quarter-million-dollar home with a leaky roof, I had to do it. He took it well, almost like he expected it and we parted amicably, so at least that was good. But the guys who ended up installing my shingles had to tear off several squares of shingles that this guy messed up, which was anything but good. Still, it wasn’t a major setback; more a lesson learned.
Then I was left without a roofer. The funny thing is that up to this point, my framing still wasn't finished (heck, it's not finished now either). The roof wasn’t even finished though, just the front side was complete, but I expected the back side to be ready by the time the roofers needed to be there.
My framer evidently is not a very good business manager, although he does very good work. When he started the job, he told me that at most it would be a four-week job. I wasn't really convinced about that because I thought it would take more like six weeks but I am paying him for the job, not by the hour and I'm not really in a hurry at the moment, so I wasn't overly concerned. He started with a crew of five, which at times expanded to six and even seven. Early on, they made phenomenal progress, but they wouldn't get started until close to 9:00 each morning and would quit somewhere between 2:00 and 3:00 in the afternoon (this was late spring and fairly nice weather for Arkansas; it hadn't even gotten hot yet and they only got rained out twice, one day each time!).
Their work hours seemed odd to me and to others who noticed it, but they were doing great work so I didn't say anything. Most framers and trade subs in general get started earlier around here, 6:00 to 7:00, so they can get a lot of work done before it gets hot in the afternoons. For the first three or four weeks, the framer and his crew made excellent progress. They got all the walls put up and hung the rafters. But once they started decking the roof, they slowed down a little; even so, the main part of the decking went pretty fast. However, I noticed that when I'd go by there and they were working, there seemed to always be several guys standing around.
Now, I was paying the guy in regular draws with the last draw being withheld until the job is complete, and that was mostly based on a six-week finish date; so when I saw guys standing around, I was afraid he was headed for trouble. Once most of the decking was completed, the work seemed to grind to a slow crawl. I mean, they slapped the decking on fast, but the odd thing was that instead of finishing the roof framing before nailing on the decking, they left the edges of the roof unfinished in a lot of places and finished them after the decking was already in place. So, although they had the biggest part of the roof finished, there were still these little unfinished areas all over the place and it took them forever to wrap that stuff up.
In fact, there was a gable and a gazebo-type roof structure on the back side of the house that was still unfinished when the first roofers started on the front side of the house. And there were several unfinished spots around the inside of the house as well that were left undone because the framer has this annoying habit of jumping around instead of finishing what he is working on before moving on to another part of the house (there are still a lot of these little unfinished spots in the house). Anyway, once the framing took a turn from fast to extremely slow, the framer ran out of money; meaning he was down to his last draw, which is still being withheld until the job is completed. So, he had to lay off most of his employees and he started working without pay to finish the job. Honestly, I don't know why he hasn't finished it yet.
It is so close to being finished, that the last draw would easily cover what is left and I suspect most framers would do everything in their power to wrap it up and get out of there, but this guy just keeps getting slower and slower. On the other hand, I'm impressed that he didn't leave altogether when he got to this point. Today begins his fifth week to work on framing without a paycheck (he had three weeks of roofing mixed into that period for which he was paid, though) and he just keeps coming back. It's to the point now that if he did quit, and after all of this I don't think he will, I could finish it myself; that's how close it is.
Anyway, as it turns out, the framer is also an experienced roofer. His son, who works with him on his framing crew, is a roofer and they often roof the houses they build. Well, after I fired my first roofer, I asked my framer if he was interested. Up to this point, he had said that he didn't want to roof the house because it's too big and has too many steep gables (the primary roof is 10/12 pitch, but there several gables on the house, all of which are 12/12 with one exception and it is 18/12; I’ve been on it and it is steep). But he'd gone for a couple of weeks without a paycheck and he jumped on the offer. They’ve been on the roof now for two full weeks and are just about complete. All they lack is an “eyebrow” that needs to be decked and shingled and a few minor touch-up items, and they will be done; about a day’s worth of work really.
But the best thing about them doing the roof is that they had to finish the framing on my “eyebrows” and roof in order to finish the shingles, so I liked that arrangement. Unfortunately, other than roof framing, they haven’t completed much else in the framing department, which was to be expected. They do usually hit some of the framing work when it gets too hot to work on the roof, but most of it has been roof related. All in all, my framers have been on site for roughly two months now and the windows and most of the doors (external of course) have been installed and the roof is almost complete so all they lack as they say is finishing up.
In other news, I’ve been trying to plan and build this house to be energy efficient. Most of the techniques I’m using were learned from Doug Rye via his DVD and one of his seminars, which I attended. I’ve also done tons of research on the subject, so I’m fairly confident it will work. Well, if you’ve studied much on energy efficiency, you’ve no doubt heard about geothermal heat pumps. Everything I’ve read leads me to believe that I need to go that route for long-term efficiency, but the short-term price always gets me to wondering. They are expensive when compared to conventional systems, but much more efficient. There are many valid arguments both for and against going with geothermal, but I wanted to get some quotes anyway.
I called a local company that actually is a manufacturer of geothermal heat pumps, and they came out to evaluate the house and discuss options. The next day I received a Manual-J calculation of the loads my house is estimated to carry along with a very professional quote for roughly $17,900 for a completely installed system (that’s with me digging the trenches for the loops. Yes, that is quite a lot of money, but it is also less than what I had budgeted and I’m leaning toward doing it. I still have other bids to get for comparison, but I like it so far. A friend of mine is building a house that is actually 300 sq ft smaller than my 3,400 sq ft in living space and his HVAC system, which consists of conventional heat pumps, is going to cost him more than what I was quoted for geothermal. That’s based on a SEER 13 unit, three of them in fact, two 3.5 and one 2.5-ton system. One of the big reasons for his expensive costs is that there wasn’t a load calculation done on his house to determine what he needed; instead, the old spitball method was used (e.g. one ton for each 400, sometimes 500, sq ft) plus he oversized one of the units for his bonus room which is in the attic “just to be safe”.
I’ll post some updated photos soon…