Monday, June 29, 2009

Let's Go Dutch!

June 25

The masons started at about 7 am this morning, but I had to leave them on their own around 7:45 to go to the Dutch House to meet the roofing contractors.

Over at the Dutch House, the dumpster has arrived on Monday, but the roofers de
cided not to start until today due to the threat of rain. So at 8 am they arrived on site, along with a representative from our general contractor. After reviewing the specs for the roofs - and going over every little detail - the roofers began the tear off process. They planned to get the shingles off the front of the Dutch House roof and get the plywood sheathing and ice and water shield installed today so that the house would be water-tight by the end of the day (See previous posts for explanation of why we are using plywood with cedar shingles).

The tear off process went well with all the original shin
gle lath left in place. The plywood will be installed on top of it. We want to leave the lath in place because it is an historic document of the changes that the roof went through. Based on the spacing of the lath, the saw or lack of marks on the lath, and the nails used to fasten it, it's possible to learn a great deal about the history of the roofing system, and evolution, of the house. Here's a pic of tearoff:

Once they finished the tear off process they took a break for lunch which gave me and our general contractor a chance to climb up on the roof to examine the structure of the house.

If you look closely at the following pic, you'll notice that there is a narrow section of newer lath to the right of the chimney
. It extends from just below the ridge to the top of the timber frame (about to the top of the left ladder of the pair in the photo) . This is a section of lath that was added to fill in the space where a dormer had been previously.

Compare the location of the new lath to the historic photo of the Dutch House that shows the dormer:

There's been a lot of lath filled in between the original lath in the top half of the roof (the lower hald is mostly newer lath). The contractor measured the distance between strips of original lath and said that the lath was spaced 10" on center. So...naturally I asked what that meant for the roofs appearance. He said that spacing indicated that the original shingles had to 30" - 36" in length. Wow - that's long! We're using 24" shingles since we are simply replacing the roof in-kind. If at some point in the future the Society wants to restore the the roof to its earliest appearance - the lath spacing information will be useful.

We were also particularly interested in seeing the structure of the the front overhang and any part of the timberframe structure that might be visible once the shingles were removed.

With the shingles removed we had a good view of the timberframe - visible here through the roof lath (above the red fascia board):

Here are some some close-ups of some of the timberframe details for you joinery fans out there:

These photos show just the original hand-hewn timbers, however there are several circular sawn timbers visible as well. My thought is that these are probably from the restoration of the 1930s. I'll need to check our archives to see what was done in this part of the house. It also appears a good deal of restoration work was done on the brick fill between the timbers.

We also had a chance to get into the attic and look around. Besides the requisite old hornet nests, we found some old shingles (1930s - 40s maybe?), and a number of old nails t
hat span the history of the building. I think I may devote a separate post to the nails and try to tie them in with our historical strictures report that was completed a few years ago.

Inside the attic we could also view the door that allowed external access to the attic. It's located directly above one of the 2nd floor bedroom windows. Here's a pic:

We also found some framing that indicated that there may have been an access hatch into the attic from the ceiling in the center stairwell.

Once we got out of the way, the roofers finished up as they planned with plywood and ice & water shield. They were even able to get a couple of courses of shingles and the cedar breather installed. They will return tomorrow to finish this side of the house.


  1. great work!.. i know how hard those roofs are to fit. well done

  2. Definitely good work done here, and yes I agree with the previous comment, these roofs are indeed difficult to install.