We’ve been spending the last several days putting the finishing touches on our metal roof estimate. We’ve learned so much in that time that we thought it would be helpful to share that information. Read on for our experience with estimating a tiny metal roof!
In the beginning, we decided that we wanted a standing seam metal roof (which was spec’ed in our Tumbleweed plans). We started doing web searches for both buying metal roof materials as well as installation, and came across American Building Components‘ excellent Youtube series, where they take you through installation of their SL-16 standing seam panel products. We found that ABC Metal Roofing is available in Las Vegas, though metal roofs are not prevalent here. It seems that unless you want stucco, earth tones, and/or Spanish tile, builders/suppliers don’t have a lot of knowledge about other products outside this area. We’ll talk about what that means for trying to not buy a boring institutional shower stall in another post. 🙂 What follows is an overview of our estimating process, as it applies to ABC Metal Roofing.
We found out, after watching the videos, that we definitely preferred the concealed fastener method. This is a method of installation where you don’t see any screws or fasteners once the installation was done. Here is an example:
Here is an example of standard (non-concealed) installation:
We foolishly thought that, if we took the materials list that Tumbleweed supplied with our plans and turned it over to a roofing supplier, they would be able to extrapolate from there the extra needs we’d have to accomplish the installation using that method. This turned out to not be the case. Most of the vendors we supplied our request to simply returned the materials list we sent them with their “best guess” at a comparable part to what we supplied them, and didn’t even bother to account for the extras needed for the concealed fastener method – you have to purchase a lot of “cleats” that the panels lock into, for example, so that you don’t have to have fasteners on the outside. That’s just one of many extra parts needed to accomplish the more intricate fastening method. This was frustrating, as it became apparent that we would need to do most of the work ourselves to determine the quantities of each piece we’d need to complete the build.
The critical thing that sent me down the road of doing our own estimate was the fact that the concealed fastener method requires you to have extra length on the panel, since you end up creating a hem at the bottom of the panel that slides up over a cleat that is fastened underneath the panel – this is what locks everything into place. That extra length also changes if you want a drip edge (which we do) or not. See below for more explanation:
Notice how, in the first picture, the end of the panel is cut flush with the edge of the roof and simply screwed down through the panel. Then notice, in the second picture, how the end of the panel is left long, then “hemmed” using a special tool, so that it will slide over the drip edge of the eave trim. Additionally, you can see the “continuous cleat” listed on the second drawing – that and another item called an “offset cleat” are the secrets to the concealed fastener system. You can see how the eave trim installs if you DON’T want a drip edge in the image below:
Another thing that I learned by poring over the documents is that shortest length you can order is 3′ 0″, but you can get any length longer than that in 1″ increments, up to 36′. This allows for very specific ordering, which leads to less waste – assuming you’re diligent in measuring for your needs. This is the critical point of this entire post: make sure you have accurate dimensions. Double and triple-check this. You don’t want to get to installation day and find that everything is 1″ too short – they don’t make a metal roof panel stretcher that I’m aware of. 🙂
Here is a snapshot of the spreadsheet that we put together that we’ll use to submit for our quotes (click for a larger version):
All told, I spent about 8 hours (and counting – we’re at the crossing T’s and dotting I’s phase of the estimate) with our Sketchup plans, the excellent SL-16 product manual that ABC provides, and an Excel spreadsheet, creating each piece and estimating quantities, lengths, angles, etc. I have to say, that after all that was said and done, I actually appreciate the amount of time I spent with it all. I feel so much more confident in being able to install this ourselves, as I really had to understand each and every little step in order to create a proper order. It will hopefully save us a lot of time in the long run. Learning the difference between eave trim (with drip edge) and rake trim, how sidewall installation differs from endwall installation, and how to properly measure each piece so that they fit together nicely when it’s all said and done was actually a pleasure to learn.
Let’s hope I’m right, and that I’m not writing a “well, that went poorly” post in about a month… 🙂