The German Village Society
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Guidelines for Preservation & Rehabilitation

ROOFS, GUTTERS & DOWNSPOUTS
Remember the old homeowners' rule of thumb: As the roof, gutters, and downspouts go, so goes the house. Just as surely as a well-maintained roof and drainage system can preserve your building, loose metal flashing, overflowing gutters, or plugged downspouts can cause interior moisture problems.

Practicality aside, roofs, gutters, and downspouts affect your building's appearance. The original builder chose these design elements carefully to create your structure's visual character. By choosing the same materials, shapes, color, and design wherever possible, you can retain that character.

Although the oldest homes have wooden shingle or standing-seam metal roofs, most of the Village's steeply pitched roofs are slate. Because slate does not drain properly on their low-pitched roofs, however, commercial buildings more often have built-up or roll roofing, and sometimes metal. During the renovations of the l960s, many Village buildings were reroofed in modern materials, frequently asphalt shingles.

The four types of gutters in German Village are illustrated in Drawing 11. Suspended gutters (half-round and ogee-shaped) are fastened at the eaves with spikes or straps. Iron clamps driven into wooden siding or mortar joints hold downspouts to the building. Box or stop gutters catch water in a trough that is part of the roof or eave. Water flows to the downspout through an outlet passing through the eave, cornice, or soffit.

Recommendations
1. Through preventive maintenance, you can not only preserve your roof, gutters, and downspouts but also avoid costly replacements. Remove leaves, branches, and debris from your gutters regularly. If you install screens on your gutters to keep out debris, remember to clean off the screens, too. When it rains, watch to see if your downspouts are clear; once plugged, they tend to freeze and burst. Also inspect the gutter supports and downspout support brackets to be sure they are secure. Keep these brackets painted to avoid rust-stained walls and foundations.

2. Take time periodically to look at your roof; check for broken slate, bulging shingles, or rusted metal. Also look at the metal flashing where chimneys or roof surfaces meet; metal flashing should neither bulge nor be loose.

3. When downspout support brackets become loose, refasten them in the mortar joints, rather than on brick or stone surfaces. Refasten the gutter support straps under roofing materials, not on the roof surface.

4. Try to retain and repair your box and stop gutters. As you might suspect, box and stop gutters can leak and may require more attention than suspended gutters. To repair leaky box or stop gutters, reline them with membrane roofing.

5. If you must replace part or all of the gutters and downspouts, try to match the original materials.

6. Paint gutters and downspouts to match your trim colors or in colors compatible with the existing trim.

7. Because of its importance as a design element, you will want to repair your existing slate roof, especially if it has a decorative pattern or if the roof is visible from the street. Many times slates are in good condition but slip out of place when nails become rusted. Use copper nails when repairing your slate roof.

8. Before you seriously consider replacing your roof, get out your camera. As the chart on page 00 shows, to receive the Commission's approval for a new roof you will need photos to document the condition of your existing roof. You may also need estimates from roofing contractors showing that repairing your roof would be more costly than replacing it.

9. When replacing a slate roof, choose a new asphalt shingle or something similar, in slate-gray. Place the color sample next to the building or even on the roof. Better yet, try to find an existing roof in that color so you can see the color on an entire roof. A small roofing sample can be misleading.