Challenging roofing projects
Andy Rowlands from Rowlands Roofing recently worked on one of the most complex roofing projects of his career, which involved hand cutting over 60,000 Acme Double Camber clay plain tiles. Here he talks to manufacturer Marley Eternit about his experiences.
Quintain House is a uniquely designed three bedroomed house in Gloucestershire, with a huge sweeping curved roof. With extreme rises and falls in the roof design and the need for a complex roof sub-structure, Herefordshire-based contractor Rowlands Roofing worked closely alongside project architectural consultants John Phipps to create the most challenging roof in its 25 year history.
Owner Andy Rowlands, who has been a roofer for over 40 years, says: “We found out about the Quintain House project through the local builders’ merchant supplying the Marley Eternit clay tiles. When we saw the drawings and the sheer size and complexity of the roof, we knew it was something we had to be involved in. We heard that, at the original design stages, there was some doubt as to whether the roof could be achieved in the traditional way and we were determined to prove that with careful attention to detail, it could be done. We also wanted to make sure the roof would perform its role, not just be an aesthetic feature.”
The Quintain House roof structure is highly complex. This meant Rowlands Roofing had to work closely with consultant John Phipps to devise a satisfactory battening solution, to enable it to replicate the unbroken and smooth flow of the roof. This had to be applied in adherence to BS 5534 (where applicable) and then the roofers needed to securely fix nearly 60,000 Marley Eternit Acme Double Camber clay plain tiles – all of which had to be hand cut!
Andy, who has recently been awarded Master Craftsman status, explains how it was done: “One of the biggest challenges was achieving a curved seamless finish, with such dramatic rises and falls in the design. The ‘snake like’ shape of the roof meant we could not use the traditional approach to batten fixing, so we had to devise another way. Each batten had to be precisely cut to enable us to curve and bend the wood batten. Entire lengths of batten were reduced from 25mm thickness down to 13mm/12mm/9mm/8mm to promote the bending effect. We then layered the ‘thinner’ battens on top of each other to provide the necessary height required.
“At 820sq m, the roof itself is a huge area and to achieve the curved design, each of the 60,000 Acme Double Camber clay tiles had to be individually marked and cut to match the space requirements of all the roof sections. With some areas having pitches of just 21 degrees, we also had to make sure the roof was waterproof and secure.”
Other issues of difficulty included access to areas of the roof with steep drops and non-traditional spaces which meant constant re-appraisal of the scaffolding used, so all roofers could operate in safe conditions and other trades were undisturbed.
Andy adds: “The project has certainly used our skills in adapting to circumstances and mitigating delays. For example, where the roof fell outside BS 5534 parameters, we had to create an EPDM rubber gutter to channel the water to the lowest point of the curve, to allow the water back over the tile and then make its way down the roof in the traditional manner. This solution could only be devised once the project was underway.
“Whilst we work on a fair amount of heritage projects, it is rare to get such an unusual roofing project, so we wanted to embrace the opportunity and show what can be achieved with dedicated workmanship and years of roofing experience.”