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HANDY MAC: A birthday wish

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Keep a positive, bright view on building issues despite the tough times the industry is facing

I am writing this week’s column a few days after my 65th birthday, which in today’s world is relatively young, but I must admit to being totally exhausted at the moment.

Our industry is not in good shape (a bit like our cricket team) and is not going to recover for a while. But we solider on in the hope there is light at the end of the tunnel, and if all else fails, Mrs Mac will keep me busy. Maybe I can make a start on that book many of you have asked me to write.


Rodney refers to Brian’s roofing problem from a few weeks ago. “From the picture you sent me I cannot accurately give advice, but can identify problem areas. I have broken these down into three categories:

The tiled roof: The pitch of the tiled roof looks low and the water from this roof is running on to the steel roof. The tiled roof should have its own gutter and down pipe. 

The flat roof: Was this added on to the main house as a lean to? If so, one would want to clip back the eave of the main house and in doing so create a ‘headwall parapet’ to which the fl at roof sheets can be properly flashed. “While the pitch of the fl at roof looks low, given that a ‘secret fi xed system’ has been used, it should be okay when installed correctly. 

The skylight: When installing a skylight on a fl at roof, it’s best to have the skylight fi xed on to an upstand at least 200mm above the level of the roof sheet. One can then easily install the various fl ashing and soaker fl anges required to waterproof the upstand to the roof sheet. The skylight is then installed on to the upstand and waterproofed independently of the roof.”

Tip of the week

Watch out for gutters becoming blocked by objects such as dead birds. Picture: Lachlan Cormie

With the good rains, I want to remind you to clear out your gutters. A pile of leaves, an errant tennis ball, a dead pigeon or a miniature roof garden can cause major damp problems in your home.

If you’re in the market for a new house or building one, avoid box gutters at all costs. It is one that lies under the join of two roofs with water flowing in from both sides or sits hard up against a parapet wall. The problem is they tend to be used in hard-to-reach places and thus are tricky to clear.

This means they often get blocked and the water overfl ows into the house below. Gutters should always be visible.

I have seen people go to the extent of building windows in walls adjacent to the box gutter, or having a water pipe placed in the gutter so it can be washed out by turning on a tap, but a dead bird can wipe out all that planning in two minutes.

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