A New Life For a Classic Roof

The Storybook Home in Rancho Santa Fe, California

by Reed Hitchcock, executive vice president, Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association


In the upscale community of Rancho Santa Fe, California, the Storybook House, a charming estate with a pool, private tennis court, and an 11,521 sq.ft. roof with 159 facets, rests peacefully among the trees. While it may be at peace now, just over a year ago the property was suffering from an enormous termite infestation, extensive rot, and a failing wood shake roof.

Originally custom built in the 1980s, the home is an echo of the Storybook architectural style that emerged in Southern California during the early 20th century. Naturally, the owners wanted to solve their roofing issues while preserving the home’s classic appearance and style. One of the biggest issues was that termites made themselves at home in the wet cedar shake tiles at the Storybook House. To make matters worse, the cedar shake tiles were further damaged by foot traffic on the roof when the termites were exterminated. Even without the infestation, the local building codes no longer allowed roofing with wood shake tiles because of fire risks. If more than 25% of the wood shakes need replacement, wood shakes are not permitted.

The importance of fire-resistant roofs cannot be overemphasized. Roofs are at risk from external sources such as sparks or brands emitted by nearby fire. Asphalt roofing products are manufactured to comply with the American Society for Testing and Materials standards for fire resistance. Today, many asphalt fiberglass roofing products manufactured in the United States carry the Class A rating.

Asphalt roofing manufacturers voluntarily submit their materials to independent testing laboratories that test them in accordance with established standards. If the material meets the standard, the product may carry the testing laboratory’s label indicating its class of fire resistance in accordance with the named standard.

A daunting task faced the homeowners of this Storybook home. Many roofing contractors were contacted but were unwilling to take on the job because of the project’s complexity. Finally, John Houge, owner and president of Professional Roofing and Solar (PRS), a roofing, carpentry, and solar roofing business, accepted the challenge.

PRS developed a tailor-made solution using architectural asphalt shingles, which possess the ability to imitate the appearance and aesthetic of other roofing materials. Using Presidential Shake® from CertainTeed®, in the autumn blend color, ensured the new roof system would maintain the original color design. PRS also selected CertainTeed’s WinterGuard® underlayment to help protect from water intrusion and water penetration around driven nails.

The shingles were staggered to prevent a zipper line and to recreate the lack of conformity inherent with cedar systems. To demonstrate the shingles’ aesthetic value, PRS created a mockup of this installation with the asphalt shingle layout displayed next to the original wood shakes. “Even the original architect couldn’t tell where the shingles ended and the shakes started,” according to Houge.

Once the aesthetic issues were resolved, a structural complication arose due to the steep-sloped, 12 x 12 cones prevalent on this house. Since the radius diminished toward the top of the cone, the shingles had to curve to accommodate the tight curvature. This was accomplished by warming the shingles and then bending them to fit the shape of the cone.

“This roof design was extremely complex,” commented Marisa Fuller, operations manager, PRS. “The Storybook home took about six weeks to complete and is around 11,500 sq.ft. It was one of our largest and most complicated installations in recent memory.” Fortunately for the homeowners, PRS possessed the craftsmanship to save the roof system and maintain the original cedar shake tile aesthetic using asphalt shingles.

The Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA) named PRS the 2019 Bronze Winner in the Excellence in Asphalt Roofing Awards program. The Bronze Award was in recognition of PRS’s achievements in residential steep-slope asphalt roofing, especially with respect to the Storybook home. The annual, free-to-enter awards program recognizes the top commercial or residential asphalt roofing projects in North America. PRS is now a part of ARMA’s winners’ gallery, and the fairytale craftsmanship of the Storybook House will continue to impress for years to come.

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