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From Texas-sized 2 Tiny House For Three

Our Primary Roofing Choice: DaVinci Bellaforte Shake Shingles

I mentioned in the post yesterday reviewing the Tumbleweed Tiny House Workshop that we’ve settled on the primary roofing for our house. I say primary because I still have an idea that I want to investigate that would add metal roof accents on top of the dormers, the little hipped-roof accent on the front, and on top of the additional porch cover we plan to build over our door jutting out a couple feet to match the fold-up porch we intend to add since we’re enclosing the corner porch the house was designed for. I can picture the DaVinci shingles I’m about to show you with copper accent roofing, though it will probably be a faux copper since 1) copper is expensive and 2) people like to steal it because they know it will get them a good price at the scrap yards. Granted I would hope no one would have the cajones to climb on the roof and rip it off (and it would be much harder than they think, that’s for sure!), but I don’t want to tempt fate either. Regardless of what metal we choose, though, we will have that company fabricate a metal rake panel for all 4 corners of the primary gabled roof and as a ridge cap, too. I’ll explain why in a moment.

First, though, let me tell you about the DaVinci shingles and why we’ve chosen them. We have been planning to move to Washington state for as long as we’ve been together (10yrs this October), but we really put the gears in drive in 2010 when we spent 2 weeks backpacking and camping all around the NW corner of Washington in celebration of our 5th wedding anniversary. The fact that it was 108 back home in Texas and only 68 in Washington in August sealed the deal, though there are many, many reasons we’ve wanted to move to the PacNW. We found a house plan in a green building magazine that we instantly fell in love with (mostly because it reminded us of a town in World of Warcraft called Auberdine and a region called Ashenvale – yes, we’re Ubernerds, but truly it is a beautifully designed area that is precisely what I picture when I think of a fantasy forest) and vowed to build on 5+ acres of heavily wooded land in Kitsap County so we could be near Seattle proper but still have the seclusion and privacy of the woods. I started looking around the internet to find a way to mimic the look of the multi tonal roof pictured in the CAD drawings of the house plan and happened across the DaVinci Roofscapes website and saved the link. They have a beautiful array of colors and patterns, and after playing around with the Color Studio  feature we settled on a custom blend of multi-width shake shingles. I saved the color combo in my huge file of “Dream House Ideas,” and would occasionally look back at them to refresh my memory of how our dream house would look. Here’s what I chose back then (which, incidentally, was based on a custom blend they used to offer called Aberdeen – thought that was fitting!):


Flash forward a year and we were welcoming our long-awaited child into the world, and a few months later I discovered the Sun Field Farm Waldorf School in Port Hadlock, WA, just a short (by Texas standards anyway) drive from the exact area we’ve wanted to move to. We were convinced we had everything planned perfectly, including having chosen a house that would allow us to build a full apartment in the walk-out basement for my parents, and my mother and I were literally looking at land and figuring out how much each of our houses would sell for just one month before she had me drive her to the ER where we were expecting a very, very different diagnosis. She died 17 months later in October 2013, and my focus for our move to Washington had to shift dramatically to incorporate her loss. I knew my dad wasn’t really ready to move up there with us but would have followed my mother there or anywhere, really, so I made the decision to put Washington on hold a while longer. Still, though, my need for an immediate change of scenery, especially to a place with a cooler, greener climate and a significantly less up-tight population (love Texas, hate Texas politics), lead us back to my teenage idea of traveling cross-country in an Airstream trailer. Knowing that we now had a little kiddo to consider and didn’t want to spend upwards of $70k on an Airstream big enough to accommodate all three of us, I started looking more heavily into the tiny house movement again as a viable alternative to a travel trailer of any kind that would let me fulfill my childhood dream of traveling the country and my husband’s of building his own house from scratch. I don’t remember how long ago I first found Tumbleweed, but I know it was long enough ago that the houses were still named things like Fencl, Epu, and Walden. Naturally, though, they were my first stop when I started looking at them with more seriousness, and we couldn’t be happier to join the Tumbleweed family with our Amish Barn Raiser!

So, now that I’ve taken you on a much longer journey to how and why we picked DaVinci than I planned (story of my life, sorry! lol), here’s what we want to use now. Since we aren’t going to build that dream house anytime soon (or maybe ever, since after living in under 200sqft the 1421sqft house with walk our basement and bonus room for a total of about 3000sqft will be entirely too much house for us), we have decided to make our Tumbleweed mimic the look of the Aubredine house (what we came to call the plan) instead. I looked at alternative versions of metal roofs to see if I could find something that would mimic the look of shake well enough, but I just kept coming back to DaVinci. I sent an inquiry email last week before we went to the workshop, and I’m happy to report the following details that make the look we are going for possible. Here are a couple direct quotes from the e-mails I traded with a DaVinci rep:

“Currently all of our products are rated for up to 110 mph in straight line winds. However, all of our products come with the Miami-Dade County, FL approval. I’m not sure how much you know about this wind rating but it’s very difficult to get this approval with the amount of hurricane zone force winds that the state of Florida receives every year.”

“The only exception to the 110 mph wind rating would be our BellaForte Slate and Shake products. Because they are an interlocking product they are less susceptible to wind up lift and are able to get up to 175 mph in hurricane zone force winds.”

Hooray! The Bellaforte shingles weren’t the version we orginally looked at, but I had coincidentally just made a custom blend of them back in March just to see what they would look like. Here ya go:

ImageShe also sent me a really kick ass video from The Weather Channel showing their Bellaforte Slate shingles tested against tornado winds and debris vs. traditional asphalt shingles that was mighty impressive. They didn’t even budge while the asphalt singles were ripped off the roof before they got up to full speed (about 70mph). I then took a look at the installation video for the Bellaforte shingles they have on the DaVinci website and noticed that the rake shingles that go along the gabled edges are only tamped down at one end. Despite having seen the great video showing their wind resistance and knowing they are rated for up to 175mph winds, I still would feel better if the edge that faces into the wind while being towed had no loose edges where the air could somehow get up and under them to lift the shingles off. I asked about using a metal rake and ridge as well as using ring shank nails (something I learned at the workshop is that these nails don’t back out of the wood and even screws can potentially come loose), and here was her reply to that:

“Yes you can use a rake metal instead of a rake cap if you wish. I might also mention that BellaForte can also be installed with screws in high wind areas rather than using nails.”

“Ring shake nails would be fine as well and are used quite frequently with our products.”

AWESOMESAUCE! I’m waiting on full-size sample shingles to arrive, as well as color chips since the colors we chose are a custom blend that doesn’t cost any more to make but simply isn’t kept in stock. I would still like to investigate using metal on the “accent” areas of the roof, but if I can’t come up with a combination we both like I think we’ll just finish the whole roof with the DaVinci shingles and have custom metal rakes and a ridge cap installed for added protection against the wind. Now we also have to decide whether or not we’ll have a vented roof ridge or seal it up tight, but since we’re leaning toward wool insulation in the inner envelope I’m thinking ventilated is the way to go.

And just in case you want to see the “dream house” we may or may not ever build (but is still an inspiration to us), here is the link to the plans on ePlans (where I first saw it in a printed magazine form and it shows up with a dusky blue for the exterior walls) and Architectural Design (this seems to be the original site, and while the images are better quality the house appears to be a light green instead of the dusky blue we were initially drawn to on ePlans). Also, since I mentioned Auberdine and Ashenvale from World of Warcraft, below are two pics of those areas to give you an idea of why we loved them and thought this house was a great realistic representation of the way we imagine fantasy forests and Elven towns to look. Neither of these images really do the areas justice (I have dozens I took as screen grabs before the two zones were destroyed in an expansion pack of the WoW game a few years back, but they aren’t easily accessible right now), but these two images I pulled off the net will give you at least a general idea.

Auberdine in Dark Shore


Astranaar in Ashenvale


Anyway, that’s it for now. I’ll post some pics of the DaVinci shingles as soon as they arrive.


3 comments on “Our Primary Roofing Choice: DaVinci Bellaforte Shake Shingles

  1. Pingback: Annnnnd… We’re Back! Our Weekend at the Tumbleweed Tiny House Workshop + Review & What We Learned | TinyHouse43

  2. Katie Wheeler
    April 24, 2014

    I’m so excited to hear that I was able to help you on your journey to find a roofing material that works with your Tiny House!

    • meg & brandy
      April 24, 2014

      Yes, Katie, you have been a tremendous help for us navigating the product line! We greatly appreciate it and look forward to finding the perfect options for our tiny roof!! 🙂 -Meg

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