A while back, Andy, a home-inspection customer of mine, drove up to his house and saw blazing light coming off the roofs of his two bay windows.
“I thought maybe the house was on fire,” he told me.
But it wasn’t fire he saw. It was just a blinding reflection of sunlight off his brand new bright-and-shiny copper roofs, one installed above each of his bay windows.
Problem was, Andy hadn’t ordered any copper roofs. He didn’t want them, and didn’t need them. So, he called me to come out and see if the roofers who adorned his house with copper had done a decent job. Lucky for Andy, they had. Even so, Andy didn’t appreciate coming home and finding his house messed with.
Andy lives out in Williamson County’s Raintree Forest, where as soon as you drive in, there’s a sign that says something like, “Welcome, Enjoy Nature, but No Hunting.” Now I want to know: what kind of lunkhead would put up a sign implying that a person driving into this upscale neighborhood would think to himself, “Hey, that front-yard pin oak looks like a fine place for a deer stand. I think I’ll pull over and get me a buck.”
I bring this up because it tells you a lot about the folks who made the sign decisions in Raintree Forest. To put it kindly, they were not think-ahead people. Y’see, Andy lives on Timber Ridge Circle, where his street sign reads, TIMBER RIDGE CR. This is just one cul-de-sac away from Timber Ridge Court, where the street sign reads, TIMBER RIDGE CT. And, don’t you know, these two roads are linked by Timber Ridge Drive.
I don't know about y’all, but I would hate to open up an artery with my hedge clippers, then have to sit there spurting blood all across the lawn while an ambulance driver tries to sort out all these Timber Ridges.
I once asked a developer how he decided on street names. He told me something like, “Well, when we bought those woods, we saw a bunch of deer down in the valley. So I named it Deer Valley.”
OK. That’s trite and unimaginative, yet understandable. But does that mean every street in the neighborhood has to be named Deer Valley-something? No.
You developer types, listen to me: I'll give you a sample theme, Ark Estates. Name the streets Aardvark, Beaver, Cheetah, right on through to Zooplankton. You work just like Noah, no species duplications. OK?
City planning types, here’s what you do: Tell the developers they can’t have the first six letters the same in any two street signs. No more Timber Ridge Court, Circle and Drive. If the street-namers can only come up with one name, make them name the streets backwards, like Court Timber Ridge, Circle Timber Ridge, Drive Timber Ridge. Get that repetitive nonsense to the end of the sign, because nobody reads that far anyway. I’m amazed that I have to explain this.
Now, back to customer Andy’s sad-but-funny tale. Clever sleuth that he is, Andy drove over to Timber Ridge Court, drove up to the house at the end of the cul-de-sac, and knocked on the door.
“Beg pardon,” he said to his neighbor, “But are you folks missing any copper roofs?”
“How’d you know that?” his neighbor asked. “The roofers were supposed to come today, but they never showed.”
“Well," Andy replied, “They showed at my house. I've got your two copper roofs. Installed.”
After talking to his neighbor, Andy was able to track down the guilty roofing company. After talking to the roofers for a few minutes, Andy traced his vigilante roofing job to a local problem that’s as common as bad street naming.
Nobody wrote anything down.
After hearing the roofers’ explanation, it was clear that there was no written contract, no written directions, and no paperwork left behind when the roofing job was finished. The roofers just knew they were supposed to go to Timber Ridge, and put roofs on a house at the end of the cul-de-sac. They did that, then they knocked off for the day.
When all the dust settled on this roofing job, both Andy and his neighbor ended up with perfectly good copper roofs. Last time I checked, they were happy, unlike the poor contractor who had to eat two roofs and feel the wrath of an unwilling customer.
Jowers has been writing about renovating old houses, and other things, since 1981. His column appears every Thursday in The City Paper.