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Monday, January 22, 2007

Rehabbing in Chicago

While searching for information online about coping tiles and flat roofs on historic buildings -- we are preparing to make the leap and add them to our building, which likely has never had them -- I found very few resources.

No matter, because I stumbled upon the delightful Chicago Two-Flat, a rehab chronicle that deals with one couple's efforts to restore one of the blog's namesakes. Their effort is further along than our own, replete with permanent roof, floors one can walk across with bare feet and other comforts. However, their detailed and compelling accounts of the little projects that always overtake any notion of "completion" are so true to life that I can't stop myself from reading despite being in a much more rudimentary stage of rehabbing.

I'm astounded to find such a familiar project from Chicago, which doesn't have the visible and well-organized do-it-yourself rehab community that St. Louis has. A relatively newer housing stock, higher prices and greater population density may keep Chicago from being a major rehab mecca that St. Louis has become, but that doesn't mean no one there is trying. In fact, Chicago Two-Flat's blogroll offers links to other Chicago house blogs covering the twists and turns of taking old buildings into healthier lives.


Anonymous said...

What do you need? Coping is expensive. Clements on Gravois carries it and the distributor is out west county somewhere, I can't remember the name off the top of my head. http://www.superiorclay.com/ has coping tiles listed under other and they can tell you who the distributor is in St. Louis. I think Clements buys from that distributor, but the price of new tiles is not much different from source to source. Do you have 9 inch walls or 13?, probably 9 inches. Perhat lumber on South Broadway carries used coping tile. Or you can go to the many wrecking sites and find them there. Normally the roof flashing will go underneath the edge of the coping tile. I have always found that the parapet usually needs a lot of work, so I do that first, before the new roof is put on, although from the sound of it, you didn't do that. You can work around that of course, did they run the flashing up over the parapet already?, or is it being treated as a separate operation? If it is separate you can still deal with any brick work on the parapet. Hope that helps. By the way metal coping is cheaper, but I wouldn't recommend it.

Michael R. Allen said...

Metal coping is mostly unattractive, and inappropriate to an 1880's buidling like ours. Obviously, the two sections of our building date to 1885 and 1891, before the widespread use of coping tiles. Our older section definitely was built for brick coping. However, we want better moisture protection in the long term.

We have had major masonry work (to be discussed in a future blog entry). On the three-story 1885 part, we demolished one wall three feet down and relayed it, and on the other wall we demolished down six feet to eliminate a major bulge. On the 1891 section, we demolished and relayed one wall down three feet, and the other wall we relayed entirely down to the foundation. Hopefully we're set for another century or so.

Jocelyn said...


I happen to be looking at my web stats and saw visitors coming from your site to mine. Thanks for the kind words.

A Rehab mecca sounds glorious to me! That is why I joined the houseblogs.net group and enjoy it so much.

I bookmarked your site so I'll add you to my blog reading list now.