Bell Tower Repair
LESLIE: George in Pennsylvania is calling in with an interesting project. George, you live in an old church?
GEORGE: I live in a building that used to be a church; that is correct.
LESLIE: Very cool. How old is the building?
GEORGE: The building was built in 1894.
TOM: That sounds very, very cool. So you’ve got a lot of home improvements to tackle with that place, don’t you?
GEORGE: I have not been lacking of things to do.
TOM: Alright. Well which one can we help you with?
GEORGE: OK. The bell tower – which is still there and the bell is still there – and the roof over the bell tower is kind of an octagonal-framed structure with shingled roofing.
GEORGE: And two of the panels are just basically rotting away from years of use – misuse, rather – or neglect.
TOM: OK. Yeah.
GEORGE: And I’m wondering how the best way to repair this …
TOM: OK. Well, I mean first you’ve got to get up there and short of divine intervention, my friend, you’re going to need a cherry-picker because unless you can figure out a way to build scaffold to get on up there, you need to be really at the roof level to work on this.
TOM: So have you thought about how you’re going to get up there?
GEORGE: Well, I can get up to – the roof, actually, has an attic space, if you will. Over top of the bell, there’s a trap door that goes up and you can kind of get up into that attic space, sort of.
GEORGE: And then what I was trying to figure out was a way to, from the inside, build my framed sections and set them in place and just kind of work my way around. I don’t know …
TOM: Alright. So is the framing rotted, as well as the – you say the roof sheathing?
GEORGE: Yeah. Yeah, the decking pieces – it’s really flats – they’ve kind of gotten in disrepair from weatherization.
TOM: Alright. What about the rafters?
GEORGE: I think they’re reasonably intact.
TOM: OK. Well then, basically what you have to do is take this apart from the outside; you can’t really do it from inside. But you’d pull these shingles off, you go down to the roof sheathing, you’d pull that off and you’re going to have to install new pieces of sheathing and then reshingle it from there on up.
So it’s pretty much the same as doing a regular roof except 10 times more complicated because it’s up in top of the bell tower.
TOM: And also, it happens to be eight-sided. So, it’s a little more tricky but you do it the same way.
So there’s nothing that you have to worry about prebuilding. Today, if you take a good lithium-ion-powered circ saw up there and the right materials, you can do it all in place.
TOM: What I would do, though, is I would make sure that you get really good underlayment under there. You’re going to find that if you cover that entire tower with something like Grace Ice and Water Shield – which is pretty flexible and you’ll really create a roof under a roof with this – that’s what I would do. I wouldn’t just rely simply on the shingles themselves; I would probably put an ice and water-shield membrane under everything. Then you can put the shingles on over that. That’ll give you a really good seal; you won’t have to do this again for 30 or 40 years.
GEORGE: I don’t ever want to do it again.
TOM: You might get your way. Alright, George. Sounds like a very cool house. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT.