By Daniel J. Westbrook, Westbrook Restorations
Q: What should we know about getting exterior repairs done the right way?
A: To replace or repair — that’s the question.
Repairs, on the other hand, can be less expensive and less evasive, while still including long-term quality if done correctly. It does require a higher level of expertise than replacement, because the work is increasingly outside the realm of what’s being taught in trade schools regarding new construction or total replacement of building exteriors.
In other words, a modern-day tradesperson may not have the experience or methodology to repair a historic or mid-century-modern home. The result is it has become increasing difficult for a homeowner to find a professional to do their home’s exterior repairs properly.
Another phenomenon that has been developing for years as it relates to talent is the drive to specialize in one thing. The roofer doesn’t do siding, the sider doesn’t do roofing or masonry, the mason doesn’t do flashing, the window installer just does windows (and only certain brands) and the painters, well, they just paint.
The problem here is that all the interfacing exterior surface components between all the specialty contractors and their specific work can get compromised over time. So, it’s especially important for the homeowner to find the right fit for their home’s exterior project needs, repairs or otherwise.
A typical single exterior project for us usually involves a myriad of repairs or replacements that might look something like the project we are currently doing on a historic Capitol Hill home. We are removing and replacing the shingles on the south and east dormers and gable ends; installing roof-to-wall flashing where none existed; manufacturing and replacing the decayed wood window sills; removing and repairing or rebuilding the window sash; and removing and replacing decayed millwork.
All of this work needs to be done with like materials, and in such a way that when the home is painted this summer, it will be better than before, but still look original. Specializing in one thing is a typecast, and it’s great if that’s what’s needed. But if you’re a homeowner with a myriad of repairs or replacements needed on an older home, sometimes it’s best to find a contractor that can do it all for you.
Daniel Westbrook is the founder and owner of Westbrook Restorations and a member of the Master Builders Association of King and Snohomish Counties, and HomeWork is the group’s weekly column. If you have a home improvement, remodeling or residential homebuilding question you’d like answered by one of the MBA’s more than 2,800 members, write to firstname.lastname@example.org.