Design for Safety & Ease of Maintenance

All structures should be designed to be safely and efficiently maintained.


How many of you builders and handymen have faced a project and knew right away that what should be simple is unnecessarily difficult due to the design of the structure?


How many of you homeowners have stood by holding your breath while someone you love, someone you hired, or a kind neighbor is teetering high on the very top rung of a ladder trying to reach a certain spot?


It is a wonder that more DIYers and carpenters are not seriously injured. The OSHA protocols are useless if the design is such that they are virtually impossible to abide by without resorting to using expensive equipment that would drive the cost up beyond what the homeowner is willing or able to pay.


Take, for example, this common scenario.   A valley is created in the roof when a garage is attached to the house.  The designer adds a porch to stop the snow from piling up in front of the doorway.   The designer then puts a dormer in the roof next to the valley.  The dormer provides natural light in the stairwell.   The roof is nice and steep, good for shedding snow.


The problem arises when it snows, even a little.  The snow piles up at the bottom of the valley on the top of the porch.   When the sun comes out, the snow slides down the roof and pushes up under and onto the dormer window.    Heat from the home escapes through the glass and melts the snow.   You get the point.  The snow has to be removed before it turns to water and ice and causes damage.


What is the problem you say?  It is only about 10’ high; how dangerous can that be?  You put a ladder up against the porch and try to clean the snow off with your rake.   The rake doesn’t quite reach.  The angle is tough to work from.   You need to be careful to avoid damaging the roof or breaking the window.  The best solution is to climb on the roof and remove the snow as gently as possible but . . . . there is no place to tie off.


Commercial buildings are equipped with places for maintenance workers to safely tie on.   Why do we never see this on residential buildings?    It is best to design a roof that doesn’t collect snow in a spot that is difficult to reach.


Let us pretend that this roof is metal.    You climb up on it.  It is really slippery.   OSHA protocol would have you throw a line up over the roof and anchor it on the other side.  What if there is no good place to anchor it on the other side?  What if the roof is tall and steep?   Will the pressure of the line damage the ridge vent?  A tie hook would really come in handy.


A good architect or designer is worth his or her weight in gold.   You will save money in the long run if you start with a good design.  We believe that you should choose a designer that is a team player.  One who involves you, a contractor, and the contractor’s subcontractors, right from the start.   Each person on the team will see the design from a different point of view and will provide you with useful advice before the design is set in stone.   It is your house after all.  You should be in the drivers’ seat.


Team work is best way to get exactly what you want, within your budget.


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