May 24, 2022

Surprisingly underbuilt

This cupola looked a bit rough and was worse than it looked. In the words of one of our craftspeople, “The whole thing just shook if you pushed on it.” It was likely on the verge of breaking apart in a storm, leaving a gaping hole in the roof, and possibly falling through the ceiling below. Our clients, fortunately, recognized the need for its rebuilding.

 

During the demo, Montana Ralstin, Thomas Schauffler, and I realized why that was the case. The feature had been framed with one-by material and sheathed in slats. It was simply underbuilt, and the small amount of rot that had started further compromised its integrity. We took off the copper cap and removed the box structure.

Rebuilt for longevity

The same day, we started framing the new cupola (using two-by-fours,) sheathed two sides, and covered the opening for the night.

The next day, we finished the framing and sheathing then installed rot-proof fiber cement siding. Though excellent once installed, the siding is quite brittle. For fear that the piece would break while we carried it to the location, we did not cut out the openings for the attic vents.

For the copper cap to fit, the new structure needed the same outside dimension as the old, but that put the union of the sheathing and siding further in. The flashing previously had gone up behind the thin shake shingles, but the flashing on the new structure needed to go behind an inch of trim and siding. Removing the old flashing inevitably damaged the shingles, and we arranged for our partners, Vaught Roofing, to come and repair the problem as soon as they could.

We finished everything we could without complicating the roof repair, which meant leaving the bottom of the siding unfastened in case Vaught wanted to replace the flashing we had installed (they did not, but better safe than sorry!) After mapping out the location for the new vents, we cut through the siding and sheathing and installed the pre-fabricated vents. We installed the upper band of trim (a rot-proof engineered product called Boral) and placed the copper cap back in its home.

Always looking out for the people we work with as well as our external clients, we also took this iconic picture that brought our marketing director, Amy, a good deal of joy.

Wrap-up

After the roofing company made their repairs, Montana, Thomas, Joie Brown, and I finished installing the trim, board, and batten style to match the rest of the house. Thorough caulking and two coats of paint completed the waterproofing and finished the cupola. We pulled our support board and filled the holes. Our client had mentioned he didn’t like the conspicuous white vent pipe sticking out of the roof, so we painted it gray while we were at it.