In technical terms, the Douglas County courthouse roof is either an "18-12" or a "20-12," say two roofing crew members describing the pitch of the roof that they began repairing Monday.
"A `12-12' would be a 45 degree angle," said roofer Bruce Boyd of Vincent Roofing, Topeka. "So if you're talking `18-12,' it would be 60 degrees or so."
An "18-12," he explained, means an 18-foot high section that rises 12 inches.
In other words, it's steep.
"You don't get too many more that's any steeper," said Tom Mundy, roofing superintendent.
But reroofing the hail-damaged courthouse roof is not insurmountable. Vincent also did the last reroofing of the courthouse in 1977. The current project should take two months to complete.
"It's not really all that difficult," Munday said. "We've done quite a few at the KU campus with slate and tile."
However, the roof does present its challenges, the two men agreed. For example, the only access is on the back, or east side, so all of the work is staged in that area.
Also, safety equipment such as belts and lines slows the crew's maneuverability, although no one is complaining.
The slate roofing material is another major factor in the project. Because the turn-of-the-century courthouse is registered as a historical landmark, the Kansas State Historical Society requires the company to use slate so the new roof will resemble the old roof.
Munday said slate is heavier than most roofing material and gets hot in warmer weather. The project will take about 48 tons of slate and approximately 4,800 pounds of copper to complete the job. The copper will be used to replace existing guttering also damaged in the March 26 storm.
The crew will use cranes to hoist about a ton of the slate shingles at a time to the roof and to assist the work on the courthouse's steeples, Munday said.
"It will be a little simpler and a little quicker," Mundy said of the steeple work.
The project will cost $176,430. All but $1,000 of the cost will be paid by the county's insurer, St. Paul Insurance Co.