Getting a new roof is always an adventure, but when your home is a historic landmark designed by one of America’s most famous architects, it’s even more harrowing!
It all started when the historic, Thomas M. Gale home built by Frank Lloyd Wright, caught the eye of celebrated international authors Michael and Carol Jago. They instantly fell in love with the beautiful, circa 1892 Victorian mansion home situated in the historic section of Oak Park, Illinois, just outside of Chicago.
The house is considered an important expression of Wright’s early work. He was a young architect working off a loan from building his own home by working at the famous architectural firm, Adler & Sullivan. Although the firm forbid independent contracting, Wright managed to complete the design of three “bootleg” houses, including the Thomas M. Gale home and two others in historic Oak Park.
When the Jagos looked up the owners of the home, they found it was on the market! The house had been declared an Oak Park landmark in 2002. It had been completely refurbished from 2004-2005, but when the housing crash of 2008 hit, maintenance on the home began to slide.
In 2014, the Jagos purchased the home from the landlord, moved in and made the house their own, even remodeling an upstairs bedroom into a studio with a picturesque view of Chicago. But on the exterior of the house, the beautiful wood shake roof was battered and discolored. It had not been maintained properly and the homeowners knew the roof was in need of attention in the near future.
Then while overseas in France, a wild winter storm tore off many of the shakes on one of the most exposed parts of the roof. “We didn’t realize how vulnerable a cedar shake roof could be,” said Michael.
Finding a roofer turned out to be much harder than expected. Many of the roofers they called were intimidated by the job and never returned with an estimate. Another told the homeowners the replacement would only take a day, which sounded much too good to be true.
When they called Pro-Homes, owner Peter Kiwior gave them a conscientious estimate, taking into account the complexity of the project and the extra manpower and safety measures needed to do the work correctly. With a contract and a handshake, Pro-Homes was awarded the Jago’s roofing job.
Roofing Material Selection
But the homeowners now faced another obstacle: the Village of Oak Park, who had to approve all plans for improvements, including a new roof. The Village was in charge of preserving the integrity of the historical homes in the area. The shingles would have to have the right look, but the couple also wanted roofing material that was durable and dependable enough to protect the precious home from Chicago’s merciless wind, snow and ice.
The process was slow, with meetings and committees involved. Peter attended the Village hearings to see the couple’s wishes fulfilled. He argued that shingles would protect the roof more efficiently from the elements and reduce maintenance costs for the homeowner. Shingles would also extend the life of the roof between replacements, an extra bonus since the roofing job itself was very difficult.
Peter also proposed some of the most attractive, high-performance shingles on the market to appease the Village yet keep the roof well protected. Some were considered and rejected. Three months later, the Village accepted the winning shingle choice which was the GAF Timberline HD® Roofing Shingles in the weatherwood color.
A Tricky Installation
The Jago’s home features a high-pitched, hipped roof with irregular composition and polygonal dormers. The steep angles of the rooflines and the beautiful, rounded turrets were a challenge for even the most experienced roofer. “It’s clear Frank Lloyd Wright was not thinking about roofers when he designed the house,” laughed Peter.
Peter put some of his most experienced, hearty crew members on the job which took a painstaking week to complete. To support the height of the house and challenging roof angles, special scaffolding had to be built. The men used special harnesses to lower themselves at extreme angles to reach the most difficult areas.
“I couldn’t watch,” laughed the homeowner.
In the end, the project was completed within the estimated time and everyone was pleased, including the Village and the homeowners.
“Pro-Homes was very professional at every stage, and proposed ideas and potential solutions. The crew they sent in were heavy hitters—nothing was too difficult for them! They arrived promptly and worked late to get a section finished. There was a general feeling of confidence that they could do the job,” said Michael.
Pro-Homes has the experience, manpower and perseverance to replace even the most challenging roof. If you have a home with special roofing needs, call Pro-Homes today.