Roofing Contractor Brings Community Together to Help Homeowners in Need

BEFORE: The existing roof showed evidence of extensive hail damage. There were also several active roof leaks, but the homeowners had been unable to make repairs, and their insurance coverage had lapsed.

BEFORE: The existing roof showed evidence of extensive hail damage. There were also several active roof leaks, but the homeowners had been unable to make repairs, and their insurance coverage had lapsed.

Maechling learned that Charles, 77, also had a severe heart condition, which made it impossible to conduct maintenance on the house. He showed her where the roof was leaking and where he had placed buckets in the attic to catch the water when it rained. When the Blanks told her they didn’t have the money to pay for repairs, Maechling explained that the hail damage might be covered by homeowners insurance. Charles gave her the name and number of his insurance agent, and she offered to see how much of the cost might be covered. The initial news was not great; the policy covered pro-rated material replacement, but not labor, and the deductible was $2,500. When the Blanks filed their claim, the news got even worse: Because of a temporary lapse in coverage, the home was not insured for the hailstorms.

Maechling tapped into social media to raise funds to help the Blanks pay for the repairs. Active on Facebook and Twitter as “Roofer Gwen,” Maechling spread the word and within 28 days she had raised the $2,500 for the deductible, but without the insurance coverage for the materials, she was at a standstill. She was determined to help Charles and Jennie Blank. “I love them to death,” she says. “They are the sweetest people I’ve ever met.”

REACHING OUT FOR HELP

When Maechling joined Professional Restoration in 2016, she still had the Blanks in mind. She researched grants and sources of aid but had no luck. She decided to reach out to members of the roofing industry to see if anyone might be able to help. The big break came when she talked to Professional Restoration’s CertainTeed rep, Tony Hock.

“I reached out to Tony to see if there was any- thing his company could do to help us out on this project,” Maechling remembers. “Once I told him the story, he said, ‘Absolutely—whatever you need. Just send me a list.’”

That got the ball rolling. An anonymous donor offered to provide siding and gutter guards. Albany, N.Y.-based Window World’s St. Louis location agreed to supply and install new windows. Professional Restoration donated the labor to install the roofing and siding. The new gutter system was paid for with the funds originally raised through social media.

In the fall of 2016, crews completed installation of the roof system, siding, fascia, gutters and door wraps. The new windows are set for installation in spring 2017. The old siding and gutters were sold for scrap to help defray the cost of new materials.

The most challenging problem involved replacing the rotten wood beneath the old roof system. The original decking had been constructed of one- by-eights, as was common in the area in the 1960s, but most of the original wood was rotting. “There’s not much use in putting a new roof over a rotting substrate,” Maechling notes. “We had to do this the right way.”

Rotten wood

BEFORE: Perhaps the biggest challenge in restoring the roof was posed by the rotting wood underneath the roof system and fascia.

Malvern, Pa.-based CertainTeed offered to provide lumber to replace the deck, along with the 110 linear feet of fascia board. “I knew I was pushing my luck, but the Blanks really needed it,” Maechling says. Plywood was installed over the top of the restored deck to provide a better nailing surface.

GOOD NEIGHBORS

After the roofing work was completed, Maechling organized a group of volunteers to take care of landscaping at the home. Neighbors who had followed the story on social media turned out to help cut down overgrown bushes and trim trees. The wood was mulched for use in the garden areas.

Jennie Blank provided candy for the kids as their parents worked in the yard. The landscaping really made the transformation complete, according to Maechling. “The before and after comparison was amazing,” she says. “You could really see the difference. I didn’t even know the Blanks had a deck on the back porch until we had trimmed away the bushes.”

The Blanks are now safe and secure in their restored home. Putting 18 squares of shingles on a ranch home is usually a pretty straightforward affair, but this project was a unique mission for Maechling. She notes it just demonstrates the two things that set great roofing companies apart. “Number one is integrity,” she says. “I will not waver on that. I will not cut corners. As my parents drilled into us, ‘No job is worth doing unless you do it right.’”

BEFORE: Sections of the existing deck needed to be replaced, and the restored deck was topped with plywood to provide a better nailing surface.

BEFORE: Sections of the existing deck needed to be replaced, and the restored deck was topped with plywood to provide a better nailing surface.

“Number two is good people,” she continues. “The world is full of good people, and if you can’t find one, you have to be one. Ask what you can do for people to set yourself apart. Everybody that I talk to has had that experience where they see someone do something and they say, ‘I wish I could do that.’ Well, what’s stopping you? Just do it.”

Maechling is grateful for everyone who helped out on this project, as well as for her new friends, Charles and Jennie Blank. “We took what looked impossible and made it possible,” Maechling says. “If I could put a roof on everyone’s house who needed one, I would—in a heartbeat.”

Photos: Gwen Maechling

ROOF MATERIALS

Shingles: Landmark Architectural Shingles from CertainTeed
Underlayment: DiamondDeck synthetic underlayment from CertainTeed

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About Christopher K. King

Christopher K. King is an editor and writer who has covered the construction industry for more than 15 years.

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