Re-Roofing a Frank Lloyd Wright Home

The Thomas P. Hardy House in Racine, Wisconsin, was designed and built in 1905 by Frank Lloyd Wright. Photos: DaVinci Roofscapes

Frank Lloyd Wright. Just the name brings to mind images of beautiful homes. So, when the team at Allrite Home & Remodeling had the opportunity to work on one of Wright’s creations, they jumped at the chance. A year later, the newly-added DaVinci Single-Width Shake roof brought the team industry recognition along with praise from Frank Lloyd Wright enthusiasts.

The home, on the shore of Lake Michigan, is located in Racine, Wisconsin. It was designed and built in 1905 by Frank Lloyd Wright for attorney Thomas P. Hardy. The stucco finished front, intricately detailed windows and breathtaking waterfront views make this a home like no other in the neighborhood.

Listed on the National Register of Historic Places in Wisconsin, the Thomas P. Hardy House has changed hands seven times. In 2012, the then-homeowner began working to restore the home to its former beauty.

The exterior was repainted to the original terracotta color. The foundation was jacked up and rotting beams were replaced. And, original light fixtures and pocket doors were all restored. As the restoration progressed, Allrite Home & Remodeling was brought in by the home’s newest owner to tackle the roof.

Selecting the Right Shake Roof

“The homeowner had three very important priorities for this historic renovation project,” says Randy Miller, owner of Allrite Home & Remodeling. “First, they wanted cedar shake, just as Frank Lloyd Wright had intended for the roof. However, they wanted to take advantage of modern advances in materials. Second, they wanted to be environmentally responsible. And third, they wanted the roof selection to please Frank Lloyd Wright loyalists.”

Many years prior, previous owners had asphalt roofing installed on the home, which was not consistent with Frank Lloyd Wright’s style. After reviewing a variety of products, the current owners decided on a composite shingle that simulates a cedar shake roof.

Single-Width Shake from DaVinci Roofscapes in the natural Aged Cedar color was chosen to restore the original appearance to the home’s exterior.

“The DaVinci product has the right quality, texture, color and warranty that the owners wanted,” says Miller. “The Single-Width Shake in the natural Aged Cedar coloring brought back the original appearance to the home exterior. As an added bonus, the composite shake shingle has a longer lifespan and will require far less maintenance.”

Soon after the team started removing the old roof, they noticed significant fire damage to the rafters above the kitchen area. Apparently a fire in the early 1960s extensively damaged the inner structure of the roof.

“The current owners had no idea so much harm had occurred,” says Miller. “We proceeded to replace the damaged wood. That was important so the home will be structurally sound and able to support the new roof.”

According to Miller, safety was also a concern. The home is located on a steep bluff overlooking Lake Michigan. High winds were a challenge as the team worked to keep materials, tools and technicians secure.

Another challenge was the location of the home on a busy road. There was also a walled-in yard. This meant there was not a good staging location for materials or a dumpster. They were able to squeeze a dumpster onto the property, but neither the placement nor the access was ideal.

Finishing Touches

After the installation of the composite shake roofing came the finishing touch: copper accents. The area around the chimney had previously been plain brown flashing. It was decided to update it with copper flashing that will continue to add character to the home as it ages and patinas.

“Installing the copper without it rippling required our expert technicians to be extremely precise as they worked,” says Miller. “Then there was the added pressure of knowing that every step of this project was being scrutinized.”

Copper accents were added, including copper flashing around the chimney.

“There are Frank Lloyd Wright fans and enthusiasts both online and in our community who watched our progress closely,” Miller continues. “They wanted to make sure every step of the way that we honored the original design of the home.”

For their successful efforts, the team at Allrite Home & Remodeling won an award in the 2019 National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) Milwaukee Remodeler of the Year Awards competition. The home received a Silver Award in the category of “Residential Historical Renovation/Restoration.”

“Our company has installed many DaVinci composite roofs during the past 15 years,” says Miller. “We’re proud of all of them. However, this project was a true labor of love. We’ve now added our mark to a beloved historical home in our community. Our entire team takes great satisfaction in knowing we were able to help bring a longer life to this Frank Lloyd Wright home.”

TEAM

Roofing Contractor: Allrite Home & Remodeling, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, https://allriteremodeling.com

MATERIALS

Composite Shingles: Single-Width Shake, DaVinci Roofscapes, www.davinciroofscapes.com

Historic Fleur du Lac Estates Gets New Synthetic Shake Roof

Fleur du Lac Estates is now a private condominium development located on the shore of Lake Tahoe. The Yacht Club and Boat House were the first structures to be re-roofed with synthetic shake. DaVinci Roofscapes

A prime filming location for the 1974 movie “Godfather II,” historic Fleur du Lac Estates in California is now a private condominium development located on the beautiful west shore of Lake Tahoe. A Yacht Club and Boat House, 22 individual homeowner units and a variety of shared recreational facilities make the historic 1938 compound a much-sought-after retreat.

Years of harsh weather conditions had taken their toll on the real cedar shake roofs at Fleur du Lac Estates. Damage from repeated leaks, hail, ice dam issues, snow and other weather conditions recently convinced the board of directors it was time to invest in new roofs for the entire estate.

Homeowners at Fleur du Lac Estates looked for a product that would mimic the look of cedar, but bring them advantages to protect their homes and buildings from Mother Nature. After a comprehensive search, they determined that the Class A fire and Class 4 impact ratings of Bellaforté polymer shake tiles from DaVinci Roofscapes met their needs.

“We started with our two most valuable community structures, the Yacht Club and Boat House,” says Stewart Dalie, maintenance supervisor and project manager at Fleur du Lac Estates in Homewood, California. “Our plans are to re-roof all of the buildings in the Tahoe Blend over the next five to seven years. We did a tremendous amount of research to determine what roofing products would look realistic in this setting, meet the new codes required for roofs in our area, yet offer us superior qualities and a long lifespan.”

“Selecting the fire- and impact-resistant Bellaforté shake material from DaVinci Roofscapes means we won’t have to be concerned with the potential spread of flames should our area ever be touched by wildfires,” Dalie continues. “That’s a huge concern for our geographic area. However, not having to worry about wind-blown embers landing on a roof and then catching the building on fire is a tremendous relief.”

The Class A fire and Class 4 impact ratings of the Bellaforté tiles bring peace-of-mind to residents within the community. The durable roofing tiles have the appearance of natural hand-split cedar shake with slanted sawn edges and staggered lengths, but with the hassle-free qualities of a manufactured product. At a 1-inch average tile thickness, Bellaforté Shake roofing tiles remind many residents of jumbo cedar shakes prevalent in the Lake Tahoe area.

Safeguarding a Historic Setting

It’s not surprising that homeowners at the upscale Fleur du Lac Estates want to invest in the best possible roofing material. This is a mountain and lakeside homeowners association where every home has a deeded slip in the marina, resort-style services are the norm and aesthetics of the community are vigilantly upheld.

Owners chose the Bellaforté polymer shake tiles from DaVinci Roofscapes, which offered Class A fire and Class 4 impact ratings. Photos: DaVinci Roofscapes

Originally the summer home of famous industrialist Henry J. Kaiser, the 15-acre lakeshore site was constructed beginning in 1938. After Kaiser sold the estate, it went through a series of transitional uses from the 1960s to 1979, including serving as a private school and as the site for many on-location scenes for Francis Ford Coppola’s film, “The Godfather II.” Only in the 1980s did the current project begin to refurbish existing key structures and transform original homes on the property to individually-owned homes.

“Our community has always embraced the history of this setting while looking toward protecting its future,” says Lane Murray, general manager at Fleur du Lac Estates. “That’s one of the key reasons we wanted a roofing product that has the look of real cedar shakes, but with man-made advantages like resistance to fire, impact and high winds.”

Despite a variety of challenges with removing the old roofs and prepping for the new synthetic shake tiles, the team at Bruce Olson Construction has successfully tackled their first DaVinci Roofscapes installation project at Fleur du Lac Estates.

“The roofing surface for the Yacht Club and Boat House were in bad shape and very uneven,” says Taylor Greene, general manager of Bruce Olson Construction in Tahoe City, California. “We had to plane these into workable surfaces before getting started. Once we got started the product installed beautifully. We added flashing material to cover some valley locations which made the project look exceptional. To achieve the realistic look, gable end flashing that concealed the manufactured edge of the DaVinci product was added.”

The company, which does residential and multi-family new construction work in several states including Hawaii, has already started work on several additional roofs in the Fleur du Lac complex.

“The Bellaforté roofing looks amazing,” says Greene. “Best of all, these polymer shakes are perfect for this geographic area. Traditional wood shakes ‘hold’ the water from melting snow. Those saturated shakes weigh more and cause the freeze line to be a part of the shake. With the DaVinci product, the water is not absorbed into the tile, so snow melting is faster and more efficient. This can also help reduce the ice damming effect in many locations.”

Laughing at Mother Nature

Nestled amidst stunning mountain peaks and world-famous ski conditions, Fleur du Lac Estates can experience heavy snowfall during the winter months. The property is just five minutes from Homewood Mountain Ski Resort, and the area usually sees snow in excess of 180 inches total. That’s one reason why the community decided to have the Bruce Olson team incorporate snow fences and snow guards from Rocky Mountain Snow Guards into the structures.

Photos: DaVinci Roofscapes

“In our area, it’s very common to use snow guards and fences to help keep snow from falling on individuals and property,” says Greene. “The previous structures at Fleur du Lac Estates didn’t have any type of snow retention system. We believe having these products in place now — which were very simple to put in during the polymer shake installation — will make life much easier for property owners no matter how much snow Mother Nature delivers each season.”

Rocky Mountain Snow Guards custom designed the snow retention system for Fleur du Lac Estates incorporating both their Drift III+ snow fences and the company’s Rocky Guard RG10 snow guards. The system was developed to handle the 180 PSF snow load that can occur in this geographic location.

“The snow guards are attached in a pattern above the snow fence that creates friction to hold the snow slab in place while the snow fence provides a barrier beyond which the snow slab won’t slide,” says Lars Walberg, president of Rocky Mountain Snow Guards. “Using the combination of snow guards and snow fences gives this project a balanced snow retention system that has the look the owners desired.”

For homeowners, the new Bellaforté roofs on the Yacht Club and Boat House are tempting reminders of what will come on their own homes within the community in the years to come.

“Now that the Yacht Club and Boat House roofs are complete, we’re hearing very positive comments from our residents,” says Murray. “Folks are eager for the work to continue in the common areas so that their individual homes can soon get these terrific-looking new roofs.”