A major project is underway at St. Matthew’s Anglican Church in the Glebe, where work began in late April to replace slate roofs, a flat roof and a steel roof, repair masonry and restore and paint some wood.
This has been a lengthy and deliberate process, because the design has been influenced by financial considerations and neither the design nor construction could be initiated without a series of approvals and funding. The roofs will serve for decades to come, while a small bridge loan will be repaid within three years. It’s fortunate that the work is proceeding now and includes replacement of a worn steel roof that was installed in the early 1980s. Water penetrated beneath that roof last spring and it has also sustained damage from ice and snow shed from surrounding roofs.
Hundreds of slate tiles have been recovered, but most are too fragile for reuse. When this project is complete, slate will remain in place on a small roof on the west side of the church and the link to the Jefferson Hall condos, both of which can be seen from Glebe Avenue.
Decision-making and funding
St. Matthew’s Corporation retained Robertson Martin Architects (RMA) to conduct a building condition study in late 2011. The aim was to assess the building and develop roof replacement options. Costs were estimated to replace slate roofs with slate or prefinished steel and to replace a worn steel roof. A study by a fundraising consultant was initiated in early 2012 and funded by the Anglican Diocese of Ottawa, as the parish developed its case for support for a Giving in Faith Together (GIFT) campaign. Parishioners considered roof replacement a priority and favoured slate, but expressed concern that the cost could burden the parish with debt or restrict other initiatives. A Special Vestry in June 2012 approved an achievable campaign goal that allowed for replacement of slate roofs with prefinished steel.
GIFT launched on St. Matthew’s Day in September 2012. Nearly a year later, early receipts and commitments enabled the parish to request diocesan approval-in-principle. Approval was granted in November 2013, when the Corporation contracted RMA to provide design, tender support and construction administration services. The design process included development of drawings and specifications. For example, specifications required particular roofing and snow guards supplied by Ideal Roofing and installed as specified, but allowed bidders to propose alternatives that could provide superior value.
Final parish approval was granted by an Annual Vestry in March 2014. Tenders closed in early May 2014. Stipulated price bids were based on the drawings, specifications and a standard contract. Three bids were received and one was disqualified. A working group evaluated bids and recommended that the Corporation not accept or reject either bid, but engage the preferred bidder and endeavour to reach agreement on a reduced scope and price. The Corporation informed bidders and authorized the project manager to explore cost reduction options with Roof Tile Management Inc. (RTM). Both parties approved an agreement in August 2014. Final diocesan approval and financing was requested and granted in September 2014, subject to a maximum total project cost of $800,000 (including HST) and other conditions. The parties worked to finalize revised contract documents and a stipulated price contract that was executed in January 2015.
Roofing projects are influenced by weather and site conditions, known and unknown. At St. Matthew’s, church activities and other building uses continue. Storage is limited and extensive scaffolding is needed to access steep and complex roofs. Measures must ensure worker safety, protect property and control other risks. Potential for serious injury in case of unauthorized access to the scaffolding is of particular concern.
Project procedures ensure that RMA and the client are notified of issues that may affect the schedule or price. Several change orders have been issued. Parishioners and diocesan officials were informed in July that the authorized cost might be exceeded. However, any excess would likely be modest because certain allowances are likely to be partially refunded. For example, the contract provides for up to 10 per cent of the wood subroof to be replaced: none had been replaced as of late August. Some water penetrated under a damaged roof above an office last spring. Replacement of that roof is included in the project, but added work will be needed to address effects of the leak.
Support and collaboration
Countless people have supported the project over a four-year period. Transparency and ongoing clear communication remain essential. The cooperation extended by our neighbours has been outstanding. Some funds will be drawn on a bridge loan that can be quickly repaid.
History meets progress
When parishioners entered the new church before Christmas 1930, very few realised that the traditional elements they could see incorporated advances in construction technology, such as columns that looked like stone but were made of steel, brick and plaster. Even the architect of the day could not have imagined that a thin, flexible, light-weight layer of recycled steel protected by a layer of zinc several atoms deep and a strong, durable polymer would become a part of the building envelope.
Our new roofs may be less exciting than a new church and hall, but should perform reliably for 40 to 60 years or longer. Older steel roofs with less advanced materials have already served for about 40 years and should not need to be replaced for another 15 years or more.
Leonard Surges is St. Matthew’s project manager and has been a resident of the Glebe since 2005.
PHOTOS: LEONARD SURGES