Re-roofing a heritage building can be complicated, especially when its historic significance demands meeting requirements that will impact materials, design, and budget. Challenges are compounded when the contractor faces manufacturing supply chain issues, tight timeframes, and special orders that require shipping materials from the US to Canada. We faced all these challenges while working in this historic property outside of Toronto for this building roof replacement.
- Client: Student campus organization
- Address: 329 Gordon Street
- Guelph – Suburb of Toronto
- Building Type: Off-campus property for a student organization
- Project Type: Roof replacement
- Roofing Material: CertainTeed asphalt shingles
- Project Start Date: 7/21/23
- Project Completion Date: 9/13/2023
This century-old church-owned building in the Toronto suburb of Guelph is owned by the Catholic Diocese of Hamilton. It is currently occupied under a long-term lease by our client, to serve students at the nearby University of Guelph campus. According to the arrangement with the landlord, our client assumed responsibility for the re-roofing costs.
Protected by the Ontario Heritage Act, this beautiful property is located within Brooklyn and College Hill Heritage Conservation District. Any alterations to the roof would require approval by the staff of the City of Guelph Heritage Conservation District (G-HCD). A permit was already in place between G-HCD and the Diocese, but the terms created roofing challenges and expenses beyond the client’s budget. Part of our job would be helping the Diocese and the HCD come to a mutually agreeable solution.
The primary elements of the campus building roof replacement project consisted of:
- Repairing roof sections at the locations of all active leaks as required, based on the results of our roof inspection
- Replacing the original slate roof, including a turret and dormer walls, with new asphalt shingles in accordance with the G-HCD permit
- Installing aluminum siding and capping on four dormer areas, including walls and soffits
- Installing new aluminum fascia at two large and two small dormers and around the turret
- Repairing, replacing, or tuning up of aluminum in other selected areas
- Partially replacing eavestroughs at selected areas and tuning up existing eavestrough at the rest of the property
Key Challenges of this Historic Campus Building Roof Replacement
Achieving Permit Modifications
Before we could finalize project plans and order materials, we needed to review the scope of the existing permit between G-HCD and the Diocese. The permit required that the roof re-create the colour and pattern of the original slate roof, have visual coherence, and maintain a distinctive character. The historic guidelines called for protecting any original fabric, materials, and architectural features.
The main sticking point in the historic guidelines was that “Original roofing materials such as slate, wood shingles, copper, etc. on sloped roofs should be retained and conserved wherever possible.” However, re-roofing using either the existing or new slate tiles would be unrealistic given the roof’s condition and prohibitive cost well beyond our client’s budget.
We were tasked with consulting with the Guelph HCD and advocating on behalf of the Diocese to identify a mutually agreeable solution.
HCD Consulting and Negotiation for Campus Building Roof Replacement
We consulted with the G-HCD about the condition of the roof and what it would take to complete repairs. They concluded that while we would need to retain the look and colour of the original roof, “Retention in this case is not possible and the roof is failing with evidence of water damage on the interior of the structure.”
The newly negotiated permit allowed us to recreate the slate’s original colour, pattern, and scalloped edges using Certainteed’s Carriage House asphalt shingles. While still expensive for asphalt shingles, this solution satisfied the guidelines. This allowed us to complete necessary repairs, enabled roof replacement, and met our client’s budget.
The expense of the premium shingles was only one issue. In addition, CertainTeed hadn’t manufactured these premium shingles for several years during COVID-19. They had just started producing them again several months earlier. With the shingles back in production, a special order was placed to be shipped from the US manufacturing plant in Avery, Ohio.
The first available date to receive the shingles was August 24. However, our client requested that we try our best to complete our work before the start of the fall semester. This allowed us a total of two weeks to complete our work!
Challenging Roofing Materials
The shingle challenge grew. The building’s pitched roof included a large turret, which can be a challenge under the best of circumstances. In this case, it required an aerial manlift. The thickness and heaviness of the shingles made them difficult to work with especially while turning the radius of the circumference of the turret.
Elite Advantage Solutions: Going Beyond the Expected
We are committed to getting the best results for our clients. Working closely with all parties allowed us to move forward. Our experience allowed us to successfully negotiate with the Guelph Historic District Commission on behalf of the landlord and tenant.
We were supported in receiving the earliest possible shipment date thanks to our positive relationship with our supplier. Our expertise allowed us to work with hard-to-use materials to achieve the desired look.
Overall, we accomplished everything we set out to do—build a safe roof, satisfy historic guidelines and permit requirements, and meet the expectations of the building’s owner and tenant. In our client’s words:
“You have been an absolute pleasure to work with, thank you for your patience and for all your consideration.”