Roofing Options To Consider When Building Your Custom Home

Roofing Options To Consider When Building Your Custom Home

Greg:    Welcome to this edition of the Louisville Custom Home Builder Podcast series, brought to you by Louisville’s leading luxury construction team, Artisan Signature Homes. I’m Greg, your host, and for today’s episode, we are joined by Louisville’s best-known and most accomplished custom and luxury home builder, Jason Black. Jason, as always, good to see you.

Jason:    Greg, it’s always a pleasure to have you back and looking forward to maybe raising the roof today.

Greg:    Very nice. I like that. Last week, you actually took me out to your Homearama house. Some of the roof is under wraps, and I did not- because I’m not crazy about heights- did not crawl up on top of the house. I’m interested in roofing topics and what some of your options are and how you decide what kind of roof to put on what kind of house…

Jason:    Well, golly. There’s so many options. Since you mentioned Homearama, let’s go ahead and talk briefly about a couple of the things we have going on with our house there. We have a dome roof. It’s kind of the highlight of this house. We were always planning to do either a shingle roof or even talked about maybe doing a copper standing seam roof. We were kind of brainstorming with the client and the roofing contractor, and it was really an opportunity for us to do something a little bit different. We, obviously, had to find something with historical precedence and to fit in with the Norton Commons’ standards. We ran some ideas by the town developer and architect, and they liked one of the ideas that is kind of a diamond-pattern copper roof. Each piece has been meticulously cut and measured and hand laid on, on the dome roof.

Greg:    Wow, and that’s what you showed me a picture of earlier- right?- that we can include on the blog here?

Jason:    Yeah, so Homearama is, gosh, a little less- two months away, I guess. We’re several weeks into this process on the roof, and it’s probably about thirty percent done. Another four or five weeks, and we should be done. I think the listeners will get a good idea of what to expect when they look at the cover photo of that copper roofing.

Greg:    I’m going to make sure I come out on a sunny day. I bet it’s going to sparkle and glisten and be something- It’s pretty tall, too, so you’ll be able to see it from a ways away.

Jason:    Yes. We’ve got a good premiere corner lot that overlooks the park and should be a pretty good focal point. Copper is just one way to top a house. The traditional way to shingle a roof or to put roofing on is with a shingle, an asphalt shingle and … There’s a three-tab shingle that is probably the standard across the country. It’s probably the cheapest way to go, as far as roofing. Then you can go to a dimensional shingle, which might give you a little bit longer warranty, gives you a little bit more shadow line, and it really- everything wants to look more like slate.

Greg:    Well, before you get to slate, can I take you backwards a little bit and ask, what are the three tabs? What does that mean, three-tab shingle?

Jason:    The shingle comes in a bundle, and you open it. Basically, there’s three tabs, it looks like. Maybe we can put a picture or two of just a traditional three-tab shingle. They kind of overlap and stagger, as you go up the roof. There’s not a whole lot of dimension to it. It’s just a flat shingle piece.

Greg:    Then, when you’re talking about dimensional shingles, is that sort of the thickness or the depth so that-

Jason:    Yeah. It’s both. It’s thicker and deeper and has some more shadow lines and shadings to them that, again- trying to give it the look of more like real slate, or even a wood shingle look.

Greg:    Okay, is the dimensionality of the shingles is aesthetics to look like a product that’s more expensive, or is there a functional reason? Does it shed water better or anything?

Jason:    Well, it’s … the durability-wise, functionally, it looks a little bit better with the three-dimensional. It’s a thicker shingle, so it is going to last a little bit longer. Norton Commons, when I first started building in here, we could only use a three-tab, kind of plain looking shingle. The thought was, “Keep all the roofs the same.” They all had to be black and really draw your attention down to the building itself and let the rooftops just kind of blend away into the sky. They changed the rules a few years ago and allowed us to start doing the dimensional shingles, which most guys have gone to, not all, but I go to it just because it’s a little bit better warranty and holds up a little bit better than the three-tab shingle.

Greg:    Okay, but ideally, they’re trying to mimic slate, which you were getting ready to tell us about.

Jason:    Yeah, so- Maybe before I jump into slate, we’ll- Before you go from asphalt to slate, you can go- You have a three-dimensional shingle. You can go to, there’s a shingle called Grand Manor. There’s a couple different versions of Grand Manor that, again, looks more like slate. It may cost you an extra seventy-five hundred to ten thousand for the material alone, for the Grand Manor-type shingles. It’s just a heavier shingle, more dimension, more styles, and again, trying to give that more authentic look to slate.

Greg:    If I see someone that says they have a fifty-year shingle on their house, is that closer to what you’re talking about, or is that-

Jason:    No, that’s exactly right.

Greg:    Okay, does that mean it’ll actually last fifty years, or you’ll get a lot closer to fifty than you would with a normal dimensional shingle?

Jason:    I think you’ll get a lot closer. There’s several different, there’s some diamond patterns in the asphalt shingles. There’s more of a cedar shake-looking shingle. Again, there’s a couple different varieties. It depends what style. We talked some about the style of the house a few episodes back. Some styles may want a little bit different characteristic to the shingle than the other, and that’s where you can really hone in your, I guess, your style of that architectural element of the home is picking that shingle type that matches the style you’re going for.

Greg:    Is that your decision, in that, “Jason Black thinks that this kind of roof looks better with this style house?” Or are you drawing from, say, in the Northeast, there was a certain kind of roof because it worked best in that environment, and you’re going to stick with that roof if the theme of the house also came from the Northeast?

Norton Commons roofing options

Jason:    Yeah, a little bit of both. Then, sometimes, the architect may have an opinion or the designer or usually the homeowner’s going to have an opinion as to, “I’ve seen this shingle before, and I’ve had this picture for ten years. This is the roof I want.” A little bit of both.

Greg:    Okay, and then, what about slate? Do I get to ask about that now?

Jason:    Yeah, we can talk slate now. If budget and money were no object, I’d probably have a slate roof on every home I built. It gives it that character of just richness and like it’s going to stand the test of time. There’s a couple ways you can actually do real slate, which is- I mean, you’ve got to put some thought process in if you’re going to do a real slate roof, as far as your framing, you’re going to want to get a bigger roof rafter system, maybe span the boards a little bit closer together, since the weight of that slate is just unbelievable- If you’ve ever felt slate, you know how heavy it is.

Greg:    I’ve seen it, driving through the Highlands. I’ve not really gotten involved with a slate roof. I think they look gorgeous, but I’m unaware of all the thought that has to go into getting in place.

Jason:    Yeah. Honestly, they’re going to be reserved for homes that are going to be in the multi-million dollar range because you’re going to shell out a couple hundred thousand dollars, most likely, to put a slate roof on.

Greg:    Wow, so-

Jason:    Now, if your home’s a little bit smaller, it might be a little bit less. It gets up there fairly quickly.

Greg:    The homes that can afford it are probably going to be of size that you’re saying it’s probably a six-figure job to put a slate roof on.

Jason:    That’s right. That’s right.

Greg:    Wow.

Jason:    There’s some synthetic material that actually look like slate, but they’re not. They’re more of a rubberized … product. They look similar to the real slate, and they’re almost as expensive.

Greg:    On the slate roof or the synthetic- but more the slate- is the expense in finding the stone and having a consistent look and that the material itself is expensive, or are there few enough craftsman around who can actually do a nice slate roof that those guys are that expensive? Is everything associated with a slate roof just really expensive?

Jason:    Yeah, just everything associated, from the nails to, a lot of times, you’ll do copper valleys. Traditionally, with asphalt shingles, you can just put the asphalt in the valleys, but with the slate, it’s tough in the valleys where the low points meet to get those shakes- the slate to line up. They’ll actually put copper in the valleys for the water to run through. Then you need copper nails, and it just, it goes on. Again, there’s not a whole lot of tradespeople around that can do a copper- you know, the copper valleys and the slate roofing.

Greg:    Okay, and then, you mentioned, we’ll wrap it up, I guess, quickly with- I forget what you call it, where the whole roof is copper, and it looks like it’s crimped …

Jason:    Yeah, so it’s called a standing seam.

Greg:    Standing seam.

Jason:    A lot of times, if the budget doesn’t allow a copper roof or a metal roof, we can sometimes accent with bay windows. Sometimes, porches that have a low pitch, you can put a standing seam copper or metal roof on. It’s a better way to give you a little bang for your buck, so to speak?

Greg:    You were saying, right there- You’re not even talking about doing the whole roof. You could do the roof in a dimensional shingle and then, over some of the bay windows, do the standing seam and bring that elegance in on a smaller scale so you don’t bust your budget?

Jason:    Yeah. One of the shingle-style homes we talked about in Glenview- that we’re building over in Glenview Park, Lot 7, it’s going to have a traditional black dimensional shingle, but we have a couple bays on the side and back that we’re going to do copper accents. You’ll see that actual standing seam copper on there, and again, it’s just a way to highlight a special feature of the house. You may spend three thousand dollars extra for a copper bay window, as opposed to twenty, thirty grand for a whole entire area. Again, just trying to be budget-conscious but give you a little bit different look to it.

One of the things we skipped over- I think we mentioned briefly- was a cedar shake roof. We’ve done accents of the cedar shake roof. It falls in the category of slate, as far as the cost to install it, just because it’s, we’re talking about the shingle-style houses we’re building here in Louisville right now. That shingle goes on one piece at a time, and, as we’ve discussed, it’s one of the most expensive ways to build a house. The same is true for the roof to do it out of the cedar shake. It may not be the best environment to do the cedar shake, but it still looks good. I’m still waiting for the client who wants to do a true shingle style and do the cedar shake on the … on the veneer, on the vertical surfaces, as well as the roofing. Anybody out there listening wanting to do it, make sure you call us.

Greg:    How would they reach you if they want to do that house?

Jason:    You can always reach me on my cellphone, area code 502-551-3004, or you can email me at You can always check the website at or follow us on any of the social media outlets, as well.

Greg:    That’s right, so if this mystery client calls you and does this house, this will be all over Instagram. They have to know that calling in, right?

Jason:    That’s right. Absolutely.

Greg:    All right. Well, as always, I am smarter now than I was before we started. Good talking to you.

Jason:    Thanks, Greg. Have a good day.