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Construction improvements to historic buildings provide a plethora of challenges – from getting appropriate government approvals, to utilizing the newest technologies without comprising the historic look and feel of a building to keeping the interior of a building dry while completely updating external structures and more.
National Roofing, a premier roofing contractor based in New Mexico, recently has completed several historic projects – La Fonda on the Plaza in Santa Fe, the Inn at Loretto in Santa Fe, the Harwood Museum of Art in Taos and the St. Augustine Church at Isleta Pueblo. These projects are added to the roster of dozens of historic building updates in National Roofing’s 40-year history including national park buildings, federal courthouses, libraries and the United World College.
“What it takes to update a historic building is trained craftsmen,” explained Tom Johns, CEO of National Roofing. “Everything has to be exact, because you’ve got decades or sometimes even centuries of history you are protecting with the roof.”
Johns’ philosophy is take the time to get it right, and the roof will last 10, 20 or 30 years. Done wrong, a company could be replacing that roof in four to five years. “What’s challenging is that people think all roofing contractors are the same. And the issue usually is the attachments – 95% of which are invisible to the buyer. They are not the same, and usually cheap becomes expensive.”
Johns loves working on historic building projects because of the unique challenges they impose. “Because the buildings are so old, until you get in there, you never know what you’ll find. It’s a surprise behind every surface.”
Some examples:

  • The Hubbell Trading Post in Ganado, AZ required zero penetration to the structure below the roof. The National Roofing team had to come up with a way to put on a roof that wasn’t visible, yet would stay intact during extreme Northern Arizona weather and wind
  • On that same project, the Navajo Nation historically used a blue product on the hogans, which was thought to ward off evil spirits. Of course, that color was no longer available. National Roofing found a manufacturer that was willing to dye the product in order to match the blue color.
  • The Drury Hotel in Santa Fe is a refurbished former New Mexico hospital. National Roofing implemented a water proofing solution that allowed for the installation of a swimming pool on the roof as part of a 10,000 square foot patio space.
  • The Inn at Loretto has dozens of individual patios and balconies off guest rooms, most with improper drainage. That project was completed during inclement weather conditions, on time, within budget and error free.

“Historic buildings are three dimensional jigsaw puzzles –with multigenerational materials and techniques,” he added.
National Roofing, because of its expertise in historic projects, is often brought in to consult or build projects throughout the U.S. For more information on National Roofing, go to


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