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Click here to view samples of our skylight work--one of our most popular requests! Click here for our slate and tile roofing--a unique skill perfected through 100 years of execution. Click here and see how we put the crowning touch on many of Chicago's most beautiful homes. Click here to view samples of our hanging and inlaid gutters Click here to see how copper can enhance a structure's architecture Click here to view the beauty and durability of ornamental metal work. Just a few examples of our work on Chicago's most famous structures... ...and here's a few we've done lately.
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Should I use copper or galvanized iron?  One hundred years ago the use of copper would double the overall cost of work, but over the years labor and insurance have risen while commodity prices have remained relatively stable. In most of our work today, the use of copper instead of galvanized iron increases the overall project cost by about 7%. In highly decorative work it is often cheaper than iron because of the labor savings in the use of copper. The only real advantage of iron is in applications like flat roof gutters, where the added strength of the material better resists ice damage.

What about pre-finished steel?  This material is pre-painted, but is close to the cost of copper. While pre-finished metals comes in a variety of colors, they cannot be soldered because the applied finish prevents the solder reaching the core metal.

How should I maintain a skylight?  The best way to maintain a dome or gable skylight is to leave it alone. Applications of caulking or roofing cement will nearly always do more harm than good, by trapping water instead of allowing the self-weeping features of the unit to operate.

Should I use a dome or gable style skylight?  A metal and glass gable style skylight should last nearly 100 years without maintenance, and has a classic old-fashioned look. However, it does not provide good insulation value and so should never be used directly over a high humidity area unless a horizontal ceiling light is installed under the skylight. A good dome looks modern, provides good insulation value and condensation protection, and should last about 20 to 30 years.

How should I maintain a slate or tile roof?  Every few years the roof should be inspected for broken or missing pieces. If a piece falls out, it exposes the roofing felt in this immediate area, and to some extent all the way down to the gutter. To replace one piece at a time is fairly simple. However, if left unrepaired, it could lead to the damage of a large section of underlying roofing felt which would requires the relay of an entire area of roofing at much higher cost.

How long does it take copper to turn green?  A century ago copper would turn green in 5 to 7 years, due to the high acid content of the air. With today's cleaner air, copper loses its bright shine in about six weeks when it turns copper brown. It will take 10 to 15 years to develop a green patina.

 

What if I want a skylight installed and I don't already have one in place? The bulk of the work would be carpentry: removal of the roof covering, roof boards, roof rafters, ceiling joist, and plaster ceiling. It would then be necessary to install a roof curb, tie the existing roofing into the skylight curb, install a light shaft between the roof curb and the ceiling, and patch out the ceiling when the new light shaft was installed. At this point the skylight can be installed.

 

How should I maintain my gutters?  Copper gutters should be cleaned at least once a year - the best time being the late fall. This should be done to improve drainage and deter the build up of ice. Galvanized iron gutters should be scraped and painted periodically with emphasis on the interior of the gutter as this is where rust will first form. Roofing cement or sealants should never be used on copper, as this will make it impossible to solder repairs.

 

What is the cost of a new slate or tile roof?  The initial cost of slate or tile is considerably higher than a shingle roof. These roof coverings are much more labor intensive and the materials are much more costly. The cost may be four to five times more than a shingle roof. However, they should last four to five times longer than shingles. 

 

If I proceed with roofing or sheet metal repairs, what kind of underlying wood repairs might I expect?  This is one of the very few items for which we cannot submit a firm proposal. We can't bid on what we can't see, and we can't see the wood until the surface on which we are working is removed. In at least 75% of our work, we encounter no serious damaged underlying wood. If we do, repairs of the wood rarely exceed approximately 3% of the overall cost of the job. 

 

How long have you been in business?  Albert J. Wagner Sr. established our business near Sheffield and Diversey in 1894. This was close to the family's former farm. In 1920 we moved to our present location one block north of Wrigley Field. During our fourth generation of family ownership, we perform exactly the same work we did in the nineteenth century. 

 

Why is this work so expensive?  When we are dealing with architectural restoration or work of a longer lasting nature, we are basically doing nineteenth century work at 21st century costs. Most contemporary construction is designed with initial cost as the prime objective, rather than duration of the completed work. In many cases, little thought is given to a time in the future much beyond the end of the warranty period. We expect our work to last for generations, for the simple reason that these time-tested methods of construction have already held up for a number of generations of our own family.

 

Should I be concerned about a contractor's insurance? Yes.  If a contractor does not have adequate insurance, you could be responsible for any damage done to your property. In the unlikely event a workman is injured on the job, his medical expenses should be covered by the contractor's workman's compensation policy. If the contractor does not have such a policy, or if it is inadequate, you could be directly responsible for all medical expenses. It is usually prudent to ask for a Certificate of Insurance before contracting for work, particularly on a roof.

 

Why do you have such a long back-log of work? In other words, why can't you do my work right away?  The primary reason is the lack of workers with the skill level we require. Our end of the trade is more craftsman than technician. We employ a small, stable group of skilled workmen who know what we want, and we know what they can do. The grandfather of one of our present sheet metal journeymen spent his whole working life at our shop - from apprentice through retirement. Further, if we were to get much larger than we are, we would lose hands-on control of the finished product. 

 

Should I use ice and watershield on my job?  Much of the ice and watershield used today is a second-grade alternate to properly designed metalwork. If gutters, valleys, etc. are installed properly then there is little need for this material. We use this material primarily at the eave line, and on roofs with very little drainage pitch.

 

What kind of work do you do? 

     Gutters: We install copper, lead coated copper, and galvanized iron molded style gutters, half round gutters, inlaid gutters liners, flat roof gutters, conductor heads, and downspouts. 

     Roofing: We repair and replace slate and clay tile roofs. We also install standing seam and flat-locked and soldered copper decks, wood shingle, and shake shingle roofs.

     Skylights: We replace metal and glass gable and hip style skylights, dome skylights and Velux skylights. We also fabricate and install custom skylight designs such as that which would fit an  octagon curb.

     Cornice: We repair existing cornices, replacing missing elements with new moldings to match the existing, and replace deteriorated top decks. We also install new cornices to any pattern or practical design. This area of work also includes facade cladding of bays or other exterior structures. 

     Architectural: We fabricate all manner of finials, planter liners, and decorative moldings to specifications. 

    "Job Shop" work: This is a catch phrase for a company with a "we'll give it a try if we think we can do it" attitude. The only work which we do not do is heating and air-conditioning.  



SKYLIGHTS ROOFING CORNICES GUTTERS COPPER
CLADDING
ORNAMENTAL
WORK
LANDMARK
PROJECTS
RECENT
PROJECTS

COMPANY HISTORY 

FAQ GLOSSARY CONTACT US LINKS HOME