This article appeared in Western Roofing magazine January/February 2006.

Old Tile Style
Century Old Look Sought for New Development in Southern, Calif.
by Heidi Ellsworth, Freelance Construction Writer

Every so often a project comes along that challenges the imagination and creativity of a builder and roofer. For Steve Cameron, owner of South Point Construction, La Quinta, Calif., and Rick Lehman owner of Lehman Roofing, Indian Wells, Calif., that project was Stone Creek Ranch located at the foothills of the Santa Rosa Mountains in the picturesque town of La Quinta, California. The challenge that they faced was how to make a brand new development look like it was put together at several different times over a period of about 80 to 100 years.

To assist them in meeting this challenge, they called upon the creative minds at MCA Clay Roof tile. MCA, well known in the roofing industry for quality energy-efficient clay roof tile and a vast color palette, was contacted to see what ideas they could offer to help with this massive undertaking. MCA regional sales manager, Martin Schneider visited with Cameron and Lehman to get a feel for not only the project but also the vision that Cameron desired. “My first objective in any meeting is to gain a clear understanding of what the customer wants the finished project to look like. Consideration must not be limited to color or style. I was being asked to convert a vision and dream into reality,” Schneider stated. This was a tall order; yet well within the ability of MCA.

The first five model homes were evaluated for color scheme and appearance from the artist rendering and architectural plans. A tour of the facility, which will eventually have about 80 homes, showed exterior walls that had an aged appearance, with concrete walkways and walls that had palm leaves pressed in the finish giving it a fossil old look. Cameron even went so far as to rust the metal covers and hinges to entry gates. These clues were a clear indication of his desire to make every detail of this project look old. “We need to find ways to make new homes look historic. Making something new look old is a trend in the home building market that is gaining momentum,” stated Cameron. “One of the critical design concepts embodying this trend is the design and color combination of clay roof tiles.”

It was at this point that Schneider began to develop color schemes for the project as well as an idea that only MCA could offer, a pebbled-finished, smoked-colored tile with a hand-rubbed manganese to add to the aged appearance. Schneider recalls, “Steve was most pleased with the available color pallet but I could tell he wanted more, again color and texture alone was not enough.”

Clearly, if you want to make a project appear to have been built over a long period of time, then you must use several different sizes of tile. With that idea in mind MCA offered Stone Creek Ranch three different sizes of tile. The larger size is a 10” straight barrel, the medium size is Corona tapered and the small size is classic tapered. Now Cameron could really let his imagination go.

As the driving force behind this imaginative look, South Point Construction has gained attention from this change. “It’s important for the community to differentiate itself from others. Stone Creek Ranch is on 30 acres and is naturally surrounded by mountains in the south and west,” Cameron said. “It features man made lakes with rock waterfalls and the homes feature a bungalow style architecture that includes a guesthouse; it’s only fitting for individuality to be incorporated into the roof design.”

The entrance to Stone Creek Ranch was essential to the successful look of the individual homes. The grand entrance features a quaint stone guardhouse that is topped with a turret and sentry posts, and includes large wood gates that swing open to admit residents and guests. The many changes in the roof pitch and entry turret were a perfect fit for the technical expertise of Lehman Roofing and the product technology and architectural look of MCA clay roofing tiles.

Lehman has been in business for over 20 years. Accomplished in all types of roofing, both commercial and residential, Lehman has moved into specializing in custom home roofing. “Custom homes are challenging and unique,” stated Lehman. “We enjoy the challenge and the ability to look back at some very exciting projects that were done well.”

Lehman has been in business for over 20 years. Accomplished in all types of roofing, both commercial and residential, Lehman has moved into specializing in custom home roofing. “Custom homes are challenging and unique,” stated Lehman. “We enjoy the challenge and the ability to look back at some very exciting projects that were done well.”
Lehman Roofing has worked with MCA on several projects over the past years, “We like working with MCA,” Lehman confirmed. “Their service and quality are unmatched in the industry. They take care of their customers and their tiles offer the benefits our custom homeowners need.”

“Once South Point had selected the three colors each home was to have and identified the size of tile to be used on each area of the home, all eyes turned to MCA to see if we could deliver on time,” Martin said. “Not only did we deliver on time, we also met the trucks at the jobsite to insure that the proper tile was placed on the correct home. Simply put, I promised service and I was not about to let them down.”

Now it was time to see what Lehman roofing could do, and they were more than up to the task. “With the three different roof tile sizes we used, we created an old world look that is truly unique,” Cameron said. “MCA tile was used on all the homes. The three different sizes were installed in a serpentine style. It has a very unique look that is meant not to look straight in order to capture the historic look.”

“South Point had a vision and we were excited to make it happen,” Lehman said. “It was a lot of work placing the right tiles and colors to accomplish the look. We initially covered the decking with two layers of 40 lb. felt and applied a modified torch down base sheet to the turrets and low slope areas. During and after the tile installation, an additional challenge was making sure the sheet metal was installed correctly. The cut-up nature of the roof made it challenging.”

For the turrets, Lehman’s crews used the small tiles in a random pattern. The serpentine pattern required Lehman’s crews to cut and design the application on a turret-by-turret basis. “We were able to utilize the small tile and the experience of the crews to match the serpentine pattern on the roof, on the turrets. It was challenging, but it turned out great.”

“People are looking at our roof twice. It looks like the roof is moving because it is installed so uniquely. We came up with the idea since we wanted not only an old world look, but something truly different,” Cameron said. “We also put stone on the houses and removed them to form an outline of the stone for the exterior look. The unique siding texture and the serpentine roofing was all done to give the homes an old world look yet these are close to million dollar homes with state-of-the-art interior upgrades. Even though the outside looks old, it will perform for the new millennium.”

“The style was old villa and weA spent a lot of time and resources to accomplish that old look. MCA tiles topped the look we wanted. People have commented on the Stone Creek Ranch saying that is a whole new level than what they expected,” noted Cameron.

“This enclave of homes definitely has a style and flavor all its own, separating itself from the pack of standard roofing applications. The uneven, rugged roofing designs are a brilliant fit to the rocky desert formations,” Cameron continued.

“The roofs turned out great,” confirmed Lehman. “It was very rewarding for all of us. We were able to deliver the look they wanted.”

The developers and builders of Stone Creek Ranch shared the same idea that different design concepts and colors would work for this development. Unlike many other developers and builders, who fear change and grasp onto the norm, South Point, Lehman and MCA embrace change, as well as opportunity.

“Stone Creek Ranch features design concepts that are 20 years of our business’ expressions,” concluded Cameron. “When you have a building company that is supported by a development company, they really let you do things beyond imagination. That is what happened at Stone Creek.”

“Over the years, I have had the privilege of being involved in many notable projects,” noted Schneider. “It has been said that a picture says a thousand words, well just look at these, enough said.” •••