Tag Archives: Roof

Fall Building Maintenance Tips – Prepare for the Cold Weather to Come

It’s been a long, hot summer for most of the country, but as the calendar gradually turns to September, fall is almost here and before you know it, the cold winter weather will be here, too.  Here are a few things you can do as a building Owner or Director of Facilities to ensure you and your buildings are ready for the change in seasons:

  • Perform Roof Inspections – Get your ladder and check out the roofs around your campus – or hire a qualified roofing contractor to inspect your low-sloped built-up and membrane roofs as well as the higher sloped shingled roofs.  Look for areas of loose shingles, especially around the building eaves where ice dams can form during winter, which allow moisture to enter under the shingles.  In addition, check flashings at vertical wall intersections, chimneys, and plumbing vent boots to confirm there are no holes or other damage that can allow water to enter the building during heavy rain or snow.  Adequate roof maintenance not only reduces leaks, but extends the life of your roofing systems.  It is important to check low-sloped roofs weekly during the leaf falling season to ensure that roof drains are not clogged with leaves and debris.  Higher sloped shingled roofs should be checked at the end of the season to ensure that gutters, valleys, and other areas are not clogged with leaves and debris as well.
  • Clean Gutters and Downspouts – Ensure all gutters and downspouts are clear from debris so that they adequately drain water away.  This continues to be important as the season progresses and leaves begin to fall.  Consider pruning overhanging trees at this time to keep the leaves and debris off the roof.  Clogged gutters can cause water to back up, which will damage the roof and the trim around the roof and soffits, as well as siding.  During cold winter weather, standing and backed-up water in gutters can freeze and cause ice dams that will damage your roof and sheathing, and lead to leaks.  Downspouts should discharge into underground storm drain leaders or empty onto splash blocks that adequately divert the water away from the exterior of the building.
  • Inspect All Exterior Doors and Windows – Check to make sure that caulking is still flexible and is sealing any gaps between window/door frames and exterior walls.  This ensures the warm air stays inside the building during the winter and seals the exterior building envelope from water penetration and leaks.  For added energy savings, check the weather stripping at all exterior door frames to make sure it’s still in place and serving its intended purpose.
  • Check Exterior Faucets and Service Irrigation System – Install frost-proof exterior hose bib faucets or drain older non-frost-proof faucets to keep them from freezing and breaking during the winter.  This is also a good time to have the underground irrigation system serviced and prepared for winter by a qualified irrigation contractor.
  • Exterior Site Concrete  and Asphalt Pavement – Perform regular sealing of exterior cracks in sidewalks and paved areas during the fall.  Water that freezes inside these cracks can cause the concrete to spall and deteriorate, leading to more costly repairs later.  The water penetration can also cause the subgrade to soften, leading to settlement and potholes.  It is critical to ensure that all expansion joints are adequately sealed with a high-quality joint sealer to prevent water from getting below the pavement surface and softening the structural base course materials.  Routine and periodic sealing of the asphalt pavement with a liquid asphalt sealer will help seal small hairline cracks in the asphalt pavement, which also protects the structural base course from softening and degradation due to water intrusion.
  • Tune Up Your Heating System – Inspect all the furnaces and heat pumps to ensure they are clean and operating properly with clean filters.  Clogged and dirty filters cause the heating system to waste energy while heating the building to your desired set point temperatures.  Check carbon monoxide and smoke detectors to make sure they are operational.  Clean chimneys to ensure they are clear and not clogged with soot and other debris, which can cause gases to build up inside your buildings.  A qualified HVAC contractor will not only perform a visual inspection of your heating system, but will also remove covers and check filters, check blowers, ensure flues are clear and operating properly, and perform other safety checks that will assure a safe and warm environment for your residents this winter.
  • Check Attics – Check the insulation in your attics to confirm it’s the proper thickness and is distributed evenly.  Lack of proper attic insulation is a major cause of heat loss in a building, which will increase your heating costs.  You should also check to see that all vents are operating properly and there is no insulation blocking the continuous soffit vents around the attic perimeter.  This is also a good time to ensure that fire sprinkler lines located in unheated attics are adequately insulated to prevent freezing and breaking of these lines.

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Why it Makes Sense to Remodel Now

As you may have read in an earlier blog, I just had my roof redone by Saber Roofing. It wasn’t that I really needed a new roof right now, I could’ve held out for maybe another five years, it just made sense. I am pushing 60 years old, the roof on my house was 40 years old, and I figure if the new one lasts another 40 years (and the new material warranties  are more like 100 years) it will probably outlast me. Upon exploring my options, I was shocked to find that the price of this new roof was roughly the same as my parents spent on the previous roof 40 years ago.

In talking with quite a few of my friends, I have grown to believe that due to the economic recession, construction in general is about as good of value is it has been ever.

I had my house painted some ten years ago, I think I paid somewhere around $4500. In questioning the painter that did my eves as I had to have have my roof replaced, I was now quoted $3500.

The list goes on and on…

My neighbor just had four huge palm trees removed from her property and I would’ve guessed them to have been at least $5000 a piece. Guess again – $3200 apiece, felled skillfully, hauled to the dumps, and impeccable clean up afterwards.

There are other factors that make it even more attractive right now. I have been watching the (Dow Jones) stock market lately, and having it hover somewhere around 13,000 seems to be a real shot in the arm. We seem to be forgetting that it was only 2007 when it was over 14,000.

With healthcare uncertain, thanks to the GOP (grossly overweight party) and the housing market improving but still near a recent low, it certainly made sense to me to take some of the cash that I had purposely kept out of the stock market and invest it in something that I could be reasonably certain would enhance my near term future.

Hell, with mortgage interest rates near an all-time low, 15 year fixed under 3%, it makes more sense to refinance and take whatever you can out of your stagnant equity and improve your living conditions now!  Screw the kids inheritance!

Take your tax deductions, improve your standard of living, and at least put a tangible stake in the ground of something the government is less likely to be able to figure a way of taking away from you.

Instead of watching my money make zero interest in the bank, I now have a beautiful new roof over my head, wonderful new clean carpets, a new front porch to chill upon, a very utilitarian outdoor storage shed (built with the help of Smallman Construction)  a couple new trees in front of my yard, and a newly landscaped plot on the one side of my house (designed by Diane McGill…650.347.0719). Look up no-brainer in Webster’s and you will see the photographs of my house.





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Positive Buying Experience of the Year!


Every now and then, a vendor or supplier truly out does themselves in service, the buying experience, and value.

My recent experience with of all things, a roofing company, was such a time.

Founded in 1982 by J Saber, an energetic gentlemen that looks very much like the Santa Cruz mountain Gnome, his company proves once again that you can’t judge a book by its cover. I seem to remember one of the founders of Apple Computer had a similar look. If you look at some of the properties that they have worked on, it becomes quite apparent that this guy is the real deal. His son Ryan has more or less taken over business operations on the San Francisco Peninsula and it is with him that I worked the most. Ryan met with me daily to review the progress of the job, and fully explain any additional work that needed to be done. He and his crew were some of the most affable workers I’ve ever seen. They actually seem to be enjoying doing their work.

As a result of many long years of hard and arduous labor and the silicon valley I own a triplex near the Atherton border. It had been roughly 35 years since the last roof was put on this ancient edifice, and I was terrified to find what might lay under the roof when we ripped off. Saber and his crew had the tear off done in one day, and I was delighted to find there was only minor damage to some of the plywood. They were able to replace that in no time, and assure me the rest of the roof was sound.

I can really tell a quality company by the attention to detail and the user experience. Every evening before the crew left, each speck of dust, each dropped nail, and every bit of debris was cleaned to the point you could not tell they had ever been there.

Another thing I greatly appreciate is honesty and integrity. There were several opportunity’s for them to take advantage of a simple homeowner as to the amount of time certain repairs might have taken. I happen to have had a few years in the construction industry myself after college, and was extremely heartened that at no time did they try to blow smoke up my hiney about how long something would take. They also had a significant cost overrun due to the fact that their estimator underestimated the square footage of the roof, costing them a few thousand dollars. Ryan admitted his mistake, and at no time hinted about charging me more.

Feel free to check out their diamond certified five star references on yelp. For those of you lucky enough to live on the San Francisco Peninsula, I recommend Saber Roofing very highly. For those of you not quite so fortunate I can only offer you a few photographs.

SaberRoofing has restored my faith in American workmanship!

More photos at


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