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Lighter-Weight Slate Provides a Solution


When Joan Sather, a real estate saleswoman with Fred Sands Realtors, and her husband, Kent, decided to remodel a portion of their 4,000-square-foot home in Pacific Palisades two years ago, a new roof became part of the massive project.

At the time, the home had two roofs on it. One was a fire-retardant wood shake roof that had been installed a few years after the Sathers purchased the home in 1975. Beneath that roof was an older wood shingle roof. This time, both the older roofs were removed and a brand-new slate roof was installed at a total cost of $65,000 for materials and labor.

The architecture of the Sathers' home was the top factor in their choice of a slate roof. "The roof is an integral part of the design and exterior look of the house because it has a little higher pitch than a ranch-style house and a lot of it is visible," Joan Sather explains. Other selling factors were the material's natural beauty and tendency to give the appearance of changing colors through a range of green and gray hues throughout the day.

A manufacturer's warranty on the roofing materials wasn't an issue, but durability was.

"We have extremes of temperature during one day--it's damp in the morning, then the sun comes out and beats on the roof in the afternoon. The roof shrinks and expands, and that is wearing on the materials," Sather notes. She says slate is practically indestructible and the contractor offered her a 50-year warranty on the roofing system.


The drawback of a slate roof is its heaviness, which can damage a home and pose an earthquake hazard. The slate roofing the Sathers originally selected would have entailed an added expense of $40,000 to strengthen their home sufficiently. Rather than either incurring that expense or abandoning slate altogether, Sather did some research and found a lighter-weight slate that could be imported from Europe. The lighter roofing material cut the cost of necessary strengthening work to only $5,000.

The Sathers visited several roofing-supply companies to look at samples of roofing materials, but didn't find those outings useful.

"They set up a 3-foot-square display of the materials, but it wasn't especially helpful because it's indoors. It was more helpful for us to look at houses that had slate roofs installed," Sather says. The addresses of nearby slate-roofed homes were provided by the roofing-supply company and the roofing contractor for that purpose.

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