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Roofing by iteration




Having vented my spleen about the DNO and AJ, its wayleave officer, it's time to move on to more interesting things, like the puzzle of getting my roofing done, amongst other things.


For my sins, whilst our house is an interesting design and has quite a few twiddly bits, they have proved to be less than straightforward to actually get built.  For a start, the house has a combination of pitched and flat roof sections, there will be an in-roof solar PV system up there and the parapet that extends above the level of the ground floor ceiling also needs to be lined.  In addition to this, there are the balustrades that need to go on the balconies, leading to a chicken and egg scenario - balcony covering first, or balustrade?  Thanks to the helpful comments of both my flat roofers and @Bitpipe

I was able to stop the parapets getting covered over before the balustrade went in and thus making life (more) difficult and (more) expensive for myself than necessary.  The flat roofing guys suggested that it would be better to get the balustrade installed into the cavity in the parapet, then they could wrap the membrane over and around and seal it against the supports of the glass panels of the balustrade.


Before they could get started, though, they had to correct a problem that arose from the architect's plans that had an error in them.  My balconies and the drainage plan is such that the water needs to run off to the outer corners.  For some reason, however, the architect's plans show the fall of the balconies going inward and to the centre, and that's exactly how MBC constructed the firring pieces on the decks.  I guess I should have spotted it earlier, but can only claim that I was working on the assumption that I'm the ignorant one in this building process and that everyone else had it right.  Being me, however, I can never entirely accept that I'm wrong and I couldn't figure out how the devil any water was actually going to flow off the balconies unless the architect had some super sneaky clever plan that I wasn't aware of.  I rang the architect and it turned out that they didn't have a super sneaky plan and they had indicated the fall incorrectly on the balconies.  Bugger!


Flat roof guys to the rescue - before they started on the first balcony, I asked them if they could just lift up the firring pieces and reverse them to point the flow to the outer corners.  We'd worked out a labour rate for a few other things I needed doing, so it's all being corrected and I won't end up with a pool of water lapping against the centre of the windows onto the deck.  I have to add that the flat roofers have been great.  They, along with seemingly every other person involved in construction right now, are fully booked for weeks to come and when I first got my quote from them, the earliest they could schedule my job was the end of October.  Oh god, I thought, my building will have drowned by then and I'll loose my next MBC slot for the airtest, and so on.  Despair.  So I wallowed for a few hours and then rang them back and put my best grovelling voice on.  It's getting lots of practice at the moment.  Anyhow, I asked them whether by splitting the job up into smaller chunks, they could squeeze me in between other jobs.  The single largest area that needs doing is the garage but the least important in terms of time constraints as it's outside the thermal and airtight envelope so doesn't need to be done for when MBC return on 8th October.  The splendid people at County Flat Roofing Ltd agreed that I was grovelling so nicely and had come to them by recommendation, they would get the decks, parapets and flat roof over the stairwell done for me over the next few weeks.  They are currently due back for a couple of days next week and I can get the area over the stairwell done, which will be a great relief as there's an awful lot of water coming in through there right now.


My pitched roof sections aren't straight forward, either.  Because I'm having an in-roof solar PV system, the PV guys need an eaves course put in so that they have something to rest the trays on.  They have also asked that the velux windows are in, but this isn't so much about having the windows in as being able to avoid a clash of flashing (their own and that for the velux).  Cue my trusty roofer, Dylan Faber of Dylan Faber Roofing Ltd.  His firm is very local to me, just the next small town along, and he has been really helpful already.  I met 3 in total, the other two being either arrogant or disinterested, so Dylan got the job.  He's more than happy to work around the PV guys and knows what their requirements are.  He's also helped to overcome a potential problem with the roof tiles, which were originally going to be Marley Eternit, birkdale for the pitch and vertigo for the cladding on the first floor.  It turns out that there's a bit of a lead time on the birkdale for the pitch and the vertigo ones need to be manufactured to order in France.  Mince, alors!  We're now going to use tiles by SVK that are barely a shade different to the Marley ones - I put the two samples side by side and they are close enough to be the same.  Even better, the SVK ones are cheaper and can be used for the vertical cladding as well.  Phew, another bump in the road traversed.


Next up were the balustrade people.  I rang around for prices and to chat about what I needed.  Whilst the architect's photoshop concept of the property shows a frameless system for the balustrade, these generally sit in a rail or shoe and that won't work with my parapet.  I need to keep the parapet cavity clear to allow airflow through it to keep the cold roof of the balcony suitably ventilated; the shoe or rail would block the cavity and so it was a non-starter.  Additionally, the balustrade people advised that it wouldn't meet safety regulations, so that was the end of the frameless sytem.  In truth, I much prefer the idea of a hand rail as leaning on the edge of a pane of even toughened glass somehow doesn't appeal.  I'm using Balustrade UK Ltd, who are based in Dudley in the West Midlands.  They are fabricators and so make most of the components themselves and are very knowledgeable and helpful.  I will admit to having a soft spot as I'm Birmingham born and bred as well as working in manufacturing myself, so it's nice to be able to support a British manufacturer and one that's close to my old stamping ground.  The final balustrade won't be as elegant or clean looking as a frameless system, without a doubt, but it's a compromise I'm happy to live with to make the whole balcony thing work and keep the build moving along. 


Finally, MBC need to send someone down for a quick bit of snagging before the glazing arrives on Tuesday.  I felt at the time that they left the site a little too quickly after the last session and this was the case.  There's nothing major but the reveals of some of the windows don't have the outer membrane continuing into the reveal as they are meant to - this was actually picked up by the glazing installations manager when he came out for a site visit earlier this week.  The internal service battens also could do with putting up before the 8th October as although first fix can't start until the airtest has been done, the battens are needed to clip bits of MVHR and things to in order to keep them out of the way for when they do return.


All in all, it's been a quiet week.  Or at least, quiet on site, but with lots going on in lining up the next load of activity.  Next week, all hell breaks loose with lots of trades on site and I need to make sure that everything is properly co-ordinated and happening in the right order if I'm going to successfully pull it off, but it looks okay so far.  I just hope the house doesn't suffer too much in the gales that are due at the weekend and that the chemical toilet is still upright on Monday.  Brace yourselves, winter is coming.

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Glad to be of service. Always good to pass on a snag that someone else can avoid!


We have a small flat roof area at the front of the house (about 7m x 3m) and it does puddle after heavy rain. It's GRP so no concerns about leaks but obviously the fall was not sufficient and there seems to be a bit of a lip at the edge of the GRP. My thought was to add another few mm to the roof itself by overcoating with the GRP topcoat paint to see if this makes it work better.

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Ha - good luck with the site toilet. I found ours on its back that day after the strong winds - Muck and bullets everywhere but the Hire Company were great. A replacement unit on site within 90 minutes. ?

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