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Home of the Month: “Deck House” in Annapolis, MD

Fichtner Services recently completed a roof replacement in the Hillsmere community of Annapolis for homeowner Craig Martin, one of the principals of Spire Architecture. The Martin home was built with the historic style of architecture called a “Deck House”, which is identifiable by vaulted ceilings with exposed tongue and groove decking, open beams and walls of glass.  While beautiful, this type of construction presents challenges with mixing of interior conditioned air with the hot/cold climate here in Maryland.

Over the years we have received many calls that homeowners with a Deck House have a leaking problem.  More often than not, the problem turns out to be condensation rather than a roof leak.  Deck Houses are notoriously energy inefficient as well.  The installation procedure requires that interior air be blocked from possibly mixing with outside air through a series of vapor barriers, rigid insulation board and a new roof system. It is a tedious but very necessary process in order to eliminate the issues that owning a Deck House can bring.  We asked Mr. Martin to share his experience with us, especially being an expert in the building industry.

How long have you lived in your house and why did you decide to renovate?

We have lived in our house about 9 years, and realized early in that our main living space had a beautiful cathedral exposed rafter ceiling… but that it had ZERO insulation beyond the wood beams and deck boards holding the shingles.  I searched for years for a solution… ranging from SIP panels, a built up roof filled with Spray Foam, enclosing the cavity between the exposed rafters and losing the exposed wood… all because the room was blistering hot in the summer (we could feel the heat radiate from the underside, even though we are in a relatively shaded area!)… and it was freezing in the winter.  We have a separate ductless system just for that room because of the temperature swings.

Why did you call Fichtner Services and how was your experience from start to finish?

Being an Architect in town, we have a lot of contact with our builders and our builder’s subcontractors.   I have been searching for a roofing team to take a comprehensive approach to problem solving this unique situation…  I had gotten quotes for ‘reroofing’… but no one was willing to take on the challenge of solving the problem… and the only other quote I had gotten before talking to Tom was at least double, if not more, the final price of the project… for a much less elegant solution (which very much matters in the look of the house).

I met Tom on site one day while working with Annapolis on the Level, another local small business… and told Tom my concerns and dilemma… he made an appointment with me immediately, showed up when he said he would, came up with a plan and a solution, put me in touch with the project manager, and they planned it out.  I felt like finally there was a professional team that had experience with what I was talking about, and was taking my project seriously, even though it was not a grand million-dollar project.

What was the style you going for and was your goal met?

Yes… the comfort with Tom and team’s plan for the actual build, the process, the schedule were all perfect.  We had two rain delays and the team notified me, and made plans that were then followed.  Strangely, this seems more and more rare these days with contractors and subcontractors… but the Fichtner team was professional, punctual, clean, friendly, responsible, and creative with the solution.

Are you happy with the finished project?

Extremely.  Our ductless unit has barely run this entire summer… and I am sure it will be the same way this winter.  The roof keeps the charm of the interior, the exterior profile is elegant and matches the style of the rest of the house (which also has a Fichtner roof on it from the remodel and addition of our primary suite about 3 years ago).  If someone asks me who to use for roofing, the answer is easy and clear.

Any other feedback?

We have a client that lives off of Route 2… had huge damage occurring from the recent tornado/storm.  Roof punctures, leaks, etc…

When they went out to start some repairs, the Fichtner team was evidently already there, checking up on their clients…. this alone goes above and beyond… the ‘eye on the ball’… while others were walking through the neighborhood with their cards, Fichtner was on the roof.

When our client called Tom to relate this to him, evidently Tom let him know that he already knew… he was one of the ones on our client’s roof.

Fichtner Services thanks Craig Martin for sharing his story and experience with us. We enjoy a challenge and are glad to know that we were able to help him with his home. If you are in need of an architectural or design services, check out Spire at

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