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Copper by Design

My IPhone # (503) 351-7082
(please read my Contact page before calling)

This web site was established in early 2003,
but I've specialized in sheet metal work since 1992

Chimney
Caps
Gazebo & Turret
Roof Caps
Custom
Work
Gutter &
Downspouts
Shipping
Parts & Info
Contact &
Ordering Info

.

Read reviews of Dmr GuttersIntroduction:
Welcome to our business web site for custom 'rust-free' sheet metal design and fabrication of rain management products primarily, and other unique projects you may have need for. 'Rust Free' should be a very important detail in your mind. Many people see rust as a charming rustic aged look, but 'rust' to me is 4 letter word, as I only see it as the unsightly cancer it is within metal commonly known as steel, Rust as you may know is the gradual deterioration of steel to breaking it down back to the earth, or one of Mother-earth's fastest ways to recycle. Where tarnished copper remains a clean bacteria free surface with a much longer life-span if built well, which is where I come in.

This has been a huge problem, because Roofers use painted steel for over 90% of roof flashing (unless insisted by the Homeowner), as if there were no other alternatives to steel, yet any Roofer knows steel will not last as long as a low life 25 year roofing. Let alone a better 35 year, 45 year, or even a life-time roofing you may be paying a small fortune for, yet not get a matching flashing to go with it. Sadly paying more will not get you a rust free flashing in most cases, unless you (a) demand it, (b) make sure it's written in the contract, and (c) you will also need to inspect the metal before it goes on your house with a magnet. I am not exaggerating here. Only steel and low grade stainless steel will attract a magnet. What does this say about most Roofing Contractors? I've caught Roofers who were paid to install real copper flashing instead use steel sheet metal painted to look like untarnished copper. The same for stainless steel, which turned out to be just cheap galvanized steel. They know most Homeowners will not discover the swindle for a decade or so. Not until the rust begins to form. By then you are not even likely to recall for certain the terms of your agreement, let alone do anything about it.

Even if they sold steel with a good automotive paint or a powder coat that looked like a good imitation of an aged copper; from what I know of steel it is not worth the effort to install, and should actually be made illegal for use in the roofing industry to help minimize our land-fill issue of so much hazardous waste each year. I feel that strongly about it, and I do not use steel sheet metal or screws in my work where it would be exposed to the elements.

A little about me:
Let me introduce myself: my name is David Rich. I am rich in life, but will never be wealthy. We have a small modest sheet metal shop located in S. W. Portland, Oregon. I have been a licensed hands-on Gutter Contractor specializing in No-clog aluminum and copper residential gutter & downspout replacement since 1993, and it's still a strong portion of our income.

This other work started with a client of mine who had a rusty steel chimney cap, which was falling apart, so I offered to rebuild it for them using copper in stead. That way this would not happen again and copper can handle the heat better than aluminum. I added those photos to my other web site: dmr-gutters.com about 15 years ago, and started getting requests from Homeowners across the Nation for chimney caps, turret and gazebo roof peak caps, as well as a variety of other unique projects. Eventually I felt the need to author this web site to cater to those clients specifically, and it has grown from there. Replacing gutters is still a lot of what we do, but it is nice to have the chance to be more creative.

I've had dmrgutters.com since 1996; well before it was common place for small businesses to have a web presence. I've personally spent thousands of hours authoring my business web sites, so please excuse all the typos you'll find. English was never my strong suit. I was more the art and math geek.

Note: We do not intend to be misleading in our pricing shown on these web pages, but as you may have noticed; metal and fuel prices had doubled in 2006. Far beyond any reasonable inflation.  Some of the older prices listed on these web pages may not accurately reflect current costs.  You can read more on this subject: Latest News/FAQ

Bookmarks:

Site Map

Who is Copper-By-Design?

Qualifications?
Why Copper? Where did the Craftsmen of Old Go? Awards and Referrals
Designed to Last What all do You Have to Offer? Our Personal Ethics
Long Term Value Lead-time &  FAQ? Warranty Policy
 Short Term Value Magazine Interview Apprenticeship
What if We are not Local? Most Interesting Projects Our Contact Info

1/2 scale Lighthouse style Chimney Cap (5/10)
w/96 embedded LED lights for our client in Seneca Falls, New York

Besio Chimney Cap
Attachment base ISD 59"W, OSD 78' W, 13' tall w/finial.
(click on this image for more details)

Do I need a GC (General Contractor) to work this out with you?
No.
I've been working directly with Homeowner at least 90% of the time. I actually have not had the best experiences working through GCs for several reasons, but I will if needed.
Maybe this will help you understand where I'm coming from. In dealing with the Homeowner directly you have a vested interest in the quality of the work I do, and greatly appreciate the extra effort I put into each project. Homeowners are more willing to wait for their project to be done right. I'm able bounce ideas back and fourth to help improve the outcome for their long term satisfaction. This way there's a better chance to explore options, so the final results are what suits their needs best.

Most GCs are not willing to put that much thought and time into this process for you. Their focus is more on speed and lowest cost regardless of what is sacrificed in that process, so they can maximize their profit margin. Most any GC will do a great job pretending they care deeply about their clients (such as any other Salesman), but from the supplier end that simply does not ring true, and I've lost faith it could ever happen some day they are true to their word.

It is far more rewarding for me to work directly with the End-user. There is less lost in communication w/o that middleman who's only looking for cheap shortcuts. So this means less problems arise, and you the Homeowner gets what they wanted (or better) for a fraction of the cost.

It's funny how my work seems to offend so many Builders. Compelling them to rip on my work. They vehemently advise against do business with me, because my work makes them look bad in comparison. They may even claim my work is over-kill. My woodwork is pretty much near cabinet quality craftsmanship that far exceeds normal house construction. It's clear my work threatens what they do; crude sloppy workmanship with lower quality parts, yet often charging their clients even more than I do.

[as you can tell I do not have much respect for General Contractors]


I designed, made and installed this lighted copper covered cupola for a client in Lake Oswego, Oregon (2/11) I also replaced worn cedar shakes w/plywood covered with 20oz copper.
Click on this image to see more of this project.

Do you have crews of workers to speed up production?
No. I run a very small hands-on business. My Wife assists me from time to time, but she's very busy with her business as a Midwife, Hypno-birth, Placenta Encapsulation, and Cranio Sacral Work: http://inner-serenity.org. Yes, you could say we are Hippies (drug-free) with pie in the sky ideals.

What else does this web site have to offer if I'm not in need of your services at this time?
Even if you are not looking to contract with me for a project; you would do well to take time to read over this web site for our ideals on Ethical Responsibility and find valuable
advice on the highest standards for gutters, roofing, and roof moss control on the Net.  We aim to do what we can to set a good example in the business community. Serving to abolish planned obsolescence in all forms, since it is intentional fraud. Which should be a prisonable offense, yet it has been allowed to be standard operating procedure in most industry, which also has more than tripled our pollution and landfill problems. I believe changing this one detail would do more to help the planet than all our recycling efforts combined. We need to pass a law which makes planned obsolescence illegal from this point on. I'm not suggesting the recall of all products already on the shelves. Yet if it can be proven that planned obsolescence was unnecessarily implemented  in new products hence fourth a crime was committed.

I feel nails are for Neanderthals (there, I've said it). Even the gutters we install are mounted with a pair of #12 stainless steel screws every 2' for an 8X Building Code quality installation on each and every job we do. Our DMR Gutter web site explains these differences in more details.


My logo plaque engraved on both sides of this 11" sheet of 32oz copper

David Rich standing in front of his design of a Tuscany style triple arch chimney cap
(which seems to be our most popular design)
Total weight 317#, Cost $6,125 installed

Same chimney caps in the background from their gazebo we restored a year later (2/11)

Gazebo restoration w/new cupola covered in 20oz copper $10,563 installed

"Quality and service is not expensive. It's priceless!"

Designed to Last:
These projects will be very noticeable as the crowning jewel on top of the highest peak of your house, so I keep in mind that looks are very important as well as strength, but they also need to be designed to be practical and functional.  With our artistic flair you will see we go out of our way to design some of the most stunning functional art for houses (insert your opinion here). Like with an investment in gold; these are rock solid investments in metal that is a valuable commodity with a strong recycle value.

I know that most of you may read these statements as nothing more than fancy lip-service. Simply 'Too good to be true' sort of thing. Although, if you take the time to read over our web site carefully and see 5,500+ photos on display you will see we back up these statements with undeniable proof, along with many of our client's reviews.  My suppliers say I am the only Contractor in this area that consistently buy the better parts. Also, there are not many businesses that can claim to have received a Business Integrity Award from the Better Business Bureau, let alone 2 years in a row.

Anything is only as good as it's weakest link. Coatings on metal like zinc or even high temp paint are not made to last more than a decade or so. I feel that is not acceptable. As a highly ethical person my greatest challenge is to design each products with the best blend between: Aesthetics, Function, Strength, Longevity, and of course made at a reasonable Cost for the best benefit to our clients.  These 5 elements do not naturally blend together cohesively, but are more apt to oppose each other, so my challenge is to reach the best possible balance between each of these important elements. Not to push what I want to sell. With any product if all of these elements are not well balanced it is no good.

Why use a life-time metal like copper and high grade non-magnetic stainless steel if it is thin, weak, and dents easily; prone to wind or snow damage? I will never build in planned obsolescence!  I passionately feel that planned obsolescence should be made a crime; for the simple fact that it is intentional fraud. Yet it is standard operating procedure in most industry through out the world (sorry for repeating myself).

July 2008 Angie's List Tough Times articalClick on this image to read the magazine article in a National Consumer Protection web site, which has the initials A L, where I was interviewed to discuss my thriving business during this recession. It was for their July 2008 issue. It seems I was the only one in their poll who had responded saying their business was doing better than ever.

I attributed my success to doing better quality work, at a more reasonable price, along with good communication though this web site, and through e-mail to deal with even small project other shops won't bother with:

(A. L. requested not to be named here)

"Intermission time"

Who Killed the Pneumatic Car?

This may be a bit off topic, but I have a question for you to consider: why has pneumatic motors for cars and larger trucks been suppressed for nearly a century now. Especially when it still beats the pants off hydrogen or electric cars? Diesel trucks still use this sort of pressurized air for their suspension and brakes. This is just pressurized air driven motors, like the power tools auto shops use, so it's not a new tech at all.

They now make 5k PSI tanks with carbon fiber for better safety and less weight like they've been using for scuba divers and Firefighters for years, which has recently proven to provide up to a 200 mile range per charge in small cars in Europe. It has no pollution to speak of, and no risk of a violent fiery explosion if in a serious collision.

This also has a far less hazardous land fill issues than old lithium-ion batteries, as well as a fraction of the cost and weight for the energy source storage. Less expensive processing, which can be set up at any fueling station for a fraction of the cost to recharge a tank in just minutes, compared to hydrogen refueling.

Another very important yet suppressed issue is vehicle safety. Follow this link to read more about the rubber safety bumpers my Grandfather made 40 years ago:
http://dmr-gutters.com/history.htm#1969

Another very important yet suppressed issue is aluminum alloy frame vehicles. Over 20 years ago Honda made their first sports car with an aluminum frame, suspension, and body, yet we still have to buy these heavy steel cars that rust to this day. They claimed most people would not spend that much for a car, which would save them 25% on fuel. It is true that you had to spend over $1k for a decent bike with an aluminum frame back then, but this no longer holds true today, when you can now get an aluminum frame bicycle for $200 at Wal-Mart.

 I can only imagine that OPEC had organized their oil companies to invest their profits in buying controlling stock in all the automakers around the world to force them to continue to make heavy cars that get poor mileage just so they can sell a little more petrol. This is also why steel flashing is used on most roofs still today, so they can sell more asphalt shingles, causing 150% more hazardous landfill than necessary each year. These are the Monsters we are fighting, and we are getting desperately close to loosing this battle for survival against their unethical business practices. Wasn't the Gulf Coast spill enough of a wake-up call?

Please write to your Congressman and tell them about this new/old tech to save our planet and society. Also, spread the word to as many people as you can to put pressure on 'The Man' and force these issue out into the light of day.

Resources:
http://www.thetorquereport.com/2007/06/the_worlds_first_airpowered_ca.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compressed_air_car
http://www.aircaraccess.com/catcomps.htm 

PS: I have no financial investment in such to cause any bias here. My aim is just to help break our dependence on fossil fuels with better options.

Why Copper?
Copper is the real deal.  The reason we proudly use copper sheet-metal over other common rust-free metals like: aluminum, brass, or stainless steel is this: The Classy Earth-tone Look!

Copper is the one metal meant to be seen. Like with an investment in gold; copper is a good solid investment in a metal that has long term value, which not subject to inflation like your savings account. It is a sturdy metal that can handle heat well. It also has an antifungal property to it, so virtually no cleaning needed. It is said to be 10X more antimicrobial than stainless steel, so it makes for great counter tops, but not so good for potting plants in where bacteria is needed in the soil.

What is the long term look I can expect with copper?
Raw copper exposed to the elements will naturally turn brown within a few months, and gradually get darker over time. It normally takes a few decades to turn that chalky green color, unless your house is right on the coast and is subject to salt-air. If you like the 'new penny' look of copper and want to retain that look you could coat it with a lacquer, but you would then loose the natural anti-fungal property of copper. Also, if this is used for the outdoors the plastic coating would get ravaged within a decade or so and begin to look bad; cracking and pealing. It will then of course tarnish between those cracks. It can always be stripped down and polished again, but that kind of defeats the purpose of using a life-time metal like copper that should require little to no maintenance. Copper can be gold-gilded to retain that look, but at $100 per square foot it a rather costly process. I'm told how a century back tarnished copper was thought to be a poor-man's flashing. There is another process called a PVD coating that lasts, but is also expensive. They use a colored chrome plating on the better doorknobs on the market, so it is much more scratch resistant with frequent use.Architectural Copper Use

Cost -V- Value:
Copper is not an easy metal to work with, but I feel it is a much better value against even a high quality non-magnetic stainless steel. Stainless-steel is a harder metal, so it has to be thinner to be able to cut, drill, and bend it, so in the end it is not really stronger than copper. Copper is a more malleable metal. Less prone to crack when bending it. There is no misleading you that most of the cost for this sort of custom work is the labor of fabrication and shipping if you're not local to us. There is no way we can begin to compete with the cost of mass-produced items coming out of China or India with their slave labor force. Because of this fact we feel it is a waste of our clients money to use a thinner copper for these custom fabrications.

Maintenance Free:
Untarnished or tarnished copper is the one metal that is meant to be seen and last in it's natural state with out any need for a protective coating or cleaning with it's antimicrobial properties. Copper's attractive striated patina adds a very interesting classy look. Copper is also thicker for the same tinsel strength as stainless steel, making it heavier for better stability in high winds. Copper need not be cleaned, since it does not mildew, as any painted surface or stainless steel does. Copper has also been known to aid in reducing moss and mildew growth on the roofing below it.

Other Metals Compared:

Steel is by far the most common sheet-metal used on roofs for flashing or to cover whole roofs. Although, I would like to see it become illegal to use steel on any roof, since it will not last even as long as a low life roofing shingles, and causes at least 150% more landfill issues with this hazardous waste than should be necessary. Steel flashing is the primary cause of roof failure, with billions wasted each year on premature roofing replacement. Again, supporting the oil industry sales. Steel is a cheap and sturdy metal, but needs painted or galvanized to delay it from rusting holes through it. Coated steel is commonly known to develop unsightly rust within a decade of exposure to the elements. These rust stains show long before it begins to fall apart, but will cause permanent stains to everything in close proximity. No matter how cheap steel is; in the long run steel is actually the most expensive choice when you consider cost of labor to rebuild and replace every 15 to 20 years at best.

Stainless Steel is the same cost of copper, but for the same durability you get less, so it is not a better value.  The modern development of stainless steel as a good strong lasting metal, but the bright shiny appearance does not look good on most structures (unless you want the look of a retro diner car).  Unlike copper, stainless steel will mildew, so there is regular maintenance required. I hear acid rain back East will compromise stainless steel in less time that copper. In the long run stainless steel is a poor investment and does not add as much to the resale value.

Aluminum is very soft in it's pure form and cannot handle high heat. Most is an aluminum allow mixture with copper, magnesium, manganese, silicon, and zinc. If left raw it develops a rather chalky appearance. Most commonly it is painted, so repainting is an issue within a decade or 2. These are the main reasons we had seen aluminum siding vanish from construction and remodeling several decades back, but it is still a common metal used for gutters that won't rust. There is health issues to consider when used for food containers causing retardation and such.

Brass has a nice gold look before it has begun to tarnish to black, but it is just a softer version of copper. Brass is made of 70% copper mixed with zinc, which turns the copper yellow to look like fool's gold, yet unlike gold it scratches a lot easier. The zinc makes it a softer and a cheaper metal than pure copper, so that is the real reason it is used so much. It is often coated with a fragile lacquer to retain that gold look, but will look unsightly within a decade.

Bronze is a harder version of copper. Bronze is 70% copper mixed as an alloy with silicates to make it harder and less malleable, so it is not useful in this sort of bending and drilling fabrication. It is largely used a lot as a good long-life casting metal; like expensive sculptures.

Titanium actually had been one of the best kept secrets for over 200 years, even though it is one of the most common metal on our planet. Titanium would be an excellent metal for use as a strong light gray look that can handle heat well, but even though it is one of the most abundant elements on our planet it is still far too expensive to be practical, and very hard for me to machine. Most people have been misled to believe it is a new composite metal like aluminum alloys, but it is actually one of the elements on the periodical chart. Titanium was discovered in Cornwall, Great Britain, by William Gregor in 1791 and named by Martin Heinrich Klaproth for the Titans of Greek mythology. If planned obsolescence was not such the standard in industry titanium would be much more widely used, and as a result it would be a lot less expensive. Cars could weigh half what they do now with the same strength and w/o corrosion issues of steel. Such as they do for many aircraft.

Sterling Silver is great, but far too expensive to be practical. It will tarnish to a black if left alone, so you would loose that silver look in short order, unless you hire someone to scale your roof and polish it frequently.

Warning Note:
Other shops prefer stainless-steel over copper to save money on fabrication time because:
1. Stainless-steel is easier to assemble by just spot-welding it together for better mass-production time.
2. Stainless-steel can be easily handled without worry of finger prints, that could cause spotty tarnishing.
3. Stainless-steel is harder, so a thinner sheet metal is used, there fore being lighter for lower shipping costs.
4. Often cheap galvanized steel is substituted for stainless-steel, since the client will be none the wiser until a decade latter
(I have seen this deception happen many times). Where copper would be harder to simulate. They do sell a copper look painted steel sheet metal: tarnished or untarnished. A simple magnet test will expose this deception; an indicator of iron in the metal that will cause unsightly rust stains.

We will work in stainless steel, but since copper cost about the same and is a thicker heavier sheet-metal our clients have preferred the solid 20oz copper we use in most of the projects we build.

..David Rich with a large circular turret roof cap
for Andrea Steele in Meridan, Kansas 4/08
(just after I had 13" of hair cut off for cancer patients)

Long Term Value (if built well):
For over a Millennia copper has been well known for it's advantages over all the other types of metal exposed to the elements.  I know it has to be attractive enough that you will want to see it up there on your home for that long and stay looking nice decade after decade, or why bother to use a life-time metal like copper?  Above aesthetics my primary focus is on the strength and longevity to be a cherished heirloom quality product for the next 100 years or so.  A lot of thought is also put into designing an easy installation as well, so I even supply the stainless steel fasteners needed, along with personalized detailed installation instructions.  I may be a bit eccentric with all this, but it has been found that using copper sheet metal is the best long term and short term value.  Please, let me explain:

We all know the cost of 3 or 4 replacements are far more expensive than 1 quality product, but we often do not have the resources to do projects right the first time, but there has been a long standing dilemma in the roofing industry with the use of copper: it seems illogical to have a product made with a long life metals like copper if it is just made so thin and fragile to save on cost.  It will just end up looking dented or even fall apart within a few decades anyway, so why bother.  In that case steel would last nearly as long and be a fraction of the cost for the material.  If built well copper would last well over a century, but this is very rare to find because of the added cost of materials and the ignorance of most people to these issues. That is why steel has long been the standard in roofing Nation wide, since it is strong and a far more economical initial investment.

Above are photos of old rusty roof caps sent in by our clients
Below is their replacements I made for them:


Client: Boll - Jellico, Tennessee 5/04


Willard - Grass Valley, California 3/07

Just like with the auto industry, where the use of steel remain the standard for over half a century after the advent of aluminum.  Although, I imagine you expect to keep these rain management products in service with little to no maintenance a lot longer than a car.  It would be very costly to hire a detailer to scale your roof to clean and wax painted steel covers and flashing a couple times each year, but if left unattended they will cause ugly rust stains long before they begin to form holes and fall apart like many of the roof caps I've replaced (shown above).

Again, if built well copper products will not need maintenance or even cleaning.  The custom labor, shipping, and installation cost that go into any of these projects account for well over 75% of the cost, so it is unwise to use a cheaper metal that will not hold up.  Some reports will suggest that copper is only good for 50 to 60 years, but I also know that is based on standard 16oz copper. Thinner copper like that is only used to help minimize cost, so most sheet metal shops will use a very thin 12oz or 16oz copper, which will actually wear holes through it in that time-line (as seen in these photos below) and the soldered seams will crack apart.  Water may not seem abrasive to the touch, but it has been known to wear down mountain given enough time.  If it is not made well with sturdy materials then using copper is a moot point if it is just going to look all dented and fall apart. I have saved this thin copper scupper as an example to remind me what I work to avoid.

..

This is a beautiful scupper made before I was born.
I removed it from a clients home for replacement.

Left side close-up shot of the worn holes:

This shows the paper thin 16oz copper sheet metal with holes worn through the
sides and solder joints splitting open without any signs of an impact or distress.
This demonstrates why I refuse to use such thin copper to save cost.

..

Short Term Value:
Even if you plan to sell your house soon; using high quality parts like this will most always increase the resale value of your house far more than the cost difference of using a cheaper metal, so you could actually make a profit from paying a little more for better materials. Most prospective buyers know the added value of copper. It also has them thinking you must have attended to this sort of detail with most other aspects of the restoration of this house with that sense of care and quality. Just check with your local Realtor to verify this detail.

..

....
David & Tia Rich 3/07

\
Total weight 110.58#, Cost $3,116.60 shipped to Indiana (6/07)

..


Tia and David Rich
(New Years Eve party 06)

Who is Copper-By-Design?
We have just a small hands-on custom sheet-metal fabrication shop located in the Great Northwest. I cannot seem to bring myself to sacrifice quality for a higher production volume, so I may not have the fastest turn around, but I trust you will appreciate how this makes CBD well worth the wait. I only works with rust-free metals and even provide the stainless steel, bronze, or copper fasteners for your installation. I started out as a local Gutter Contractor willing to take on odd projects for my clients, and I'm still very active with that; climbing up on ladders and thousands of roofs to see the evidence of what works, and what doesn't.

We are located in Portland, Oregon on the West side. We are just 10 minutes South of Down Town Portland. Besides being self proclaimed (drug free) hippies with a profound compassion for those we do not even know (see: mind-temple.com), I also seem to have a unique aptitude for mechanical comprehension and spatial arrangement, which help immensely to visualize, design, and create these unique 3-D projects out of flat sheet of copper sheet metal. I've recognized the need for these custom products for clients across the Nation like: decorative turrets and gazebo roof caps, roof ridge caps for moss control, chimney caps & flue covers, scuppers or leader heads, water features, along with an assortment of other original designed and personally fabricated products.

This growing work had inspired us to develop this alternate web site to my local gutter work in order to reach clients through the Internet. These days over half our gutter clients contact us on-line, and around 80% of the custom copper work is for out of State clients.

I had first published my web site for the gutter business back in 1996 under http://dmrgutters.com, but at that time the web address on the side of my work vehicle got more attention than the actual web site.  Over the last decade this has gradually changed to the point that our web site is now more beneficial to our gutter replacement sales than even referrals.  We've now published over 4,000 photos and put thousands of hours into it's development over the last decade. Homeowners have become a lot more web savvy. More and more people are carefully researching the web to find something better than just the normal contractors who talk a fancy jargon, but only deliver a fraction of what they promised. Looking in the local phone directories just isn't cutting it, so Homeowners are beginning to network on-line through web sites like A's List and The Old House Web .

I struggle to find the best quality parts available at a reasonable cost, yet sadly our suppliers report that we seem to be the only contractor in our area who consistently buys the better materials, so it is not profitable to stock them for just one client.  It seems to be true; as I have not personally met a decent roofing or gutter contractors in our local area.

We stand behind our quality with our extensive warranty (see: our Warranty & Service web page for details).  There's a 20 year manufacturing warranty on the copper products we sell.  The only reason I do not offer a longer warranty is that it would be unrealistic and would insult your intelligence to offer more. Where will I be more than 15 years from now at the ripe age of 60+?


A CBD copper chimney cap after only a few months on a beach house on the Jersey Shore

What are Our Qualifications?

Besides my high standards and ethics, I (David) had been tested in High School to have an unusually high aptitude for spatial arrangement, art, math, and a 99% mechanical aptitude, which I was told was the highest score possible. It takes these sort of abilities to visualize and diagram new original designs for fabrication, and make sure it will be strong to last over the next century, easy to install, as well as attractive. I strive to place a lot of focus on strength and function. If built well; it should be able to last well over 100 years and be reused each time re-roofing is needed. That is why we supply the stainless steel screws along with a new #3 Phillips tip to do the installation with, so it can be a cherished heirloom.

I honestly seek to raise the bar, after seeing what commonly fails in construction over the last few decades. I would not want anyone to work on my house who's only hope is the parts to last a year trouble free: just enough to avoid their liability.  About 30 years ago, this was the motivation that inspired me to go into construction, after needing to figure out how to do everything on my own.  Schooling was useless, since their primary focus was how to get jobs that can be done fast and cheap, so they would maximize profitability for contractors to financially succeed.

I am personally diligent to respond to client e-mail within 24 hours, but it can take as much as a dozen hours of my time to get all the details ironed out over the course of several weeks of correspondence with a new client on just a small one time project. That is depending on how fast the client responds back with the info I need.  Then several more hours to design, fabricate, box up, and ship a simple $200 roof cap.

I was highly interested in art since third grade. At 17 I got my first professional contract to make a life-size Darth Vader for the promotions of Empire Strikes Back (first release) with working LEDs in the belt units and a lit light saber. All built on a shoe-string budget of only $300. One of my artistic passions is authoring these hundreds of web pages, but most notably is how I am the primary designer and fabricator of the copper work you see here.

One reason that I have these talents is my Grandfather (John William Rich) who was a brilliant inventor of several well known products, but most known for his Rich's Frozen Food Program back East, and his TV chairs seen at large airports and bus terminals. But his greatest invention was the development of the Rich's Safety Bumper for cars and City busses made of a large hollow rubber cell filled with water for the low-tech hydraulic absorption of the impact.  It made driving like playing bumper cars; with his 15 mph no damage bumpers, affording drivers a 20% discount off their auto insurance. He stepped on the toes of the major auto makers here in the USA and his company was crushed like an annoying bug. You can read more about it on our Ethics web page.

Tia has demonstrated a talent in artistic design and has assisted in designing these web pages since early 2000 and helps proof read them. She also consult in design ideas for copper work and helps in the shop. Tia's Father worked on the robotics of the Disney rides in California, and her Mother was very involved with crafts and paintings.

This attention to detail and reliable service has earned us a spot as finalist 2 years in a row for the BBB Business Integrity Award (shown below).

What about contacting you and good swift communication?

We have been told by numerous clients that in searching the web for this sort of information; we clearly have the most comprehensive web site on custom copper sheet metal design and fabrication in the world, with our 300+ web pages and over 4,000 photos, that link to full screen digital images for a better look at our work with prices listed of what they had paid at that time. You are likely to agree. Some people feel we have over done it here with so many step-by-step photo sets, but these are from the pictures I take to send to the client each night while working on their project. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so I do what I can to best communicate with our clients through this medium.

We feel there are already hoards of simple web sites that you could navigate and read over within a few minutes, but that is not the grouping we want to compete with. We virtually stand alone here on the web for an on-line store front for a small business like ours.

If nothing else this web site shows our commitment to good clear communication, which is very important to us. I am personally careful to check e-mail at least twice a day, and respond within 24 hours. If you had not heard back from me with a personalized reply within that time, call  me  to check if I received your e-mail. I answer calls personally, but I do not quote projects over the phone for a couple reasons:
(a) it often takes an hour or two to do the careful calculations and write up a detailed quote.
(b) it is foolish to rely on memory as to what the terms were, so through e-mail we will both have a written record.

We specialize in custom copper designs.  We rarely get a chance to reuse a pattern or template a second time, since each clients needs have been uniquely different. We actually encourage unique designs, as opposed to pushing clients over to generic designs by offering discounts.  The only discounts we offer are for clients who have carefully read through our web site and have provided us with all the info we need to provide a quote in the first e-mail exchange. There is also a volume discount, but that rarely happens.

David, Torrin, and Tia Rich 8/07


Another original design Chess Piece 'King' style roof mounted chimney
Total height10', weight 132#, cost $3,405.50 delivered to California (8/07)

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We have worked hard to maintain the highest reputation for quality and honest work.  First off with using a thicker 20oz to 48oz copper for our custom work, instead of the standard 12oz and 16oz copper most other shops use when working with copper.  I feel it's pointless to use copper if it's built so flimsy that it will not last longer than a cheap painted steel. We also provide the stainless steel screws for a better installation with detailed instruction.  For shipping projects even as small as the ones shown here to the right (made for a playhouse turret roofs in Arizona) we make a wood frame crate that is screwed together, with the screw holes pre-drilled so they will not crack the boards.  Then it has cardboard or a thin plywood attached to the wood frame.  For larger projects like chimney caps the crate has a 1/2" plywood base and top shell, since they may be stacking other boxes over my crates in shipping.  Details you are not likely to find elsewhere.  Even with shipping insurance; the time delays alone would to repair a damaged item is not worth the savings of building a cheaper shipping crate.

Total weight 14#, Cost $336 client picked up (2/06)
(just before the cost of copper shot up)

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Why is quality and craftsmanship so hard to find these days?
I would say it's mainly our fast pace world of chasing the almighty dollar, and not giving a crap about the consequences. Most building contractors seem to look at building code as a thorn in their side and seek to quickly do their work as cheaply as they can get away with. Just enough to get past a 1 year minimum warranty most State's Construction Contractors Board require.  Each house I have worked on tells a story: why the old parts had failed, which is the only reason I'm called in to fix it. It is my duty to evaluate the evidence and solve the short comings of the previous work and the materials used. Sadly that's not the focus of most contractors, contrary to the slick double talk of their salesperson. I see these codes as a minimal recommendation, and strive to better it in every aspect of what I do in an effort to build products to last a century or more. I know I could not possibly be perfect, so I feel it makes good sense to over compensate on parts and installation quality, so the project has a better chance to even out what short comings I may have.

Ethics and integrity are words with a powerful meaning, but seems to have lost much of it's relevance these days, like the words: super turbo charged, titanium, or platinum cards. We have been told by many clients how our prices are quite reasonable and even lower than many other shops.  Being a small hands-on business I have a low overhead compared to most shops. I'm still just a humble low-life 'renter' myself. That makes our swift production capability much more limited though. If some of the prices listed on this web site seem a little high, try to keep in mind that many of these items are shown with the priced including the cost of  a strong wood custom made crate with shipping charges, unlike you'll see elsewhere.  We do not play the game of showing you a lower price, and then tack on a huge shipping and handling charge.  If you happen to be local enough to drive here to pick up the fabrication we will gladly discount those costs of course, which could save you over $1k. I am often using more copper than estimated, yet will stick to my quoted price.

Copper is gauged as weight per square foot for sheet-metal.  When it is shown gauged any other way there is a good chance it is only painted or copper plated steel, so beware of this sort of scam.  To minimize the costs and be easier to work with most fabrication shops use 12oz or 16oz copper. We use 20oz copper or thicker for our custom fabrications, so they are heavier and more dent resistant, and less prone to wind and debris damage.  Thicker copper like 24oz, 32oz, and 48oz is of course more costly and harder to work with, so that greatly raises the cost, but I price it at the same cost per pound as the 20oz copper, so it is usually $20 #..


Large copper chimney cap. Total weight 182#, Cost $4,000 delivered to Alabama (2/06)
(just before the cost of copper shot up twice as much)

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Just a few of the shapes and sizes of roof caps I had made for some non-local clients in 2006

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What if you are not local to us?
I would say well over half of our work over the last few years has been making unique custom copper sheet-metal products for clients back East, a few in Canada, and 1 in the Caribbean.  We have been filling orders for a variety of uses, like: chimney caps, gazebo & turret roof peak caps, scuppers, water features, and such.  Turret and gazebo roof caps had been our most popular items, but requests for custom chimney caps have steadily risen to overshadow roof peak caps.  I'm happy to talk with you on the phone, but please go to our contact info page and read it before calling me, since I may be up on a 2 story ladder with a 40' gutter in my hands when you call.


I made this white aluminum fascia metal
over birch plywood shipped to Arizona, along
with the copper scuppers and downspout parts

Installation:
I am not able to work legally outside Oregon State and do not carry the liability insurance to do roofing related work, so ironically I am not able to install these roof caps even locally.  There is no network for us to find and refer you to a good local roofing contractor.  Although, if you are searching for a reliable contractor, this web site is one of the most comprehensive and honest web sites on gutters, roofing, Moss Control, and Roof Treatment.  You should find the information here very helpful to better know what questions to ask of your local contractors.  Helping you better able to weed out the less reputable contractors, to find one that you can hopefully rely on.  And in so doing you should save a lot of money and future head aches. 
For a good honest resource to find reliable contractors in your area that your neighbors have used and reviewed:

If you are not able to do the installation yourself; I wish you good fortune finding a reliable contractor in your area.  I have several links to A's List here to help our clients find relatively competent and honest contractors in their local area to do the installations of our products.  If you are able to find a contractor that you feel comfortable with, have them look over our web site here to see just how we do our installations and have them contact me with any questions.  If they claim they completely understand just what to do already, that is probably not a good sign.

I will be able to provide all the high quality parts and stainless steel fasteners with detailed installation instructions for them to use. You will not want to trust them to get any of the parts needed. Even the lumber.  I hope you do not think I say this to pad my pocket with more sales $.  All the contractors I have met see the building codes as a thorn in their side, where I see it as a minimal guide line: just as they were intended.

What all do we have to offer?

Custom Chimney Caps and flue extensions from $200 to $12k

Custom 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 10, 11, 12, & 16 sided Roof Caps
for turret and gazebo roof peaks ranging from $100 up to $2.4k

Custom decorative Scuppers
(as shown here to the left)

Custom Range Hoods and Mantles

Other custom Sheet Metal Fabrications

Retail seller of inexpensive Cupolas, Weathervanes,
& Finials through Good Directions, Inc.

Non-local Supplies of special custom aluminum and copper sheet metal gutter parts

Rust-free Gutter Replacement

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David & Tia Rich
Owners, Designers, & Fabricators
(Feather, Leather, & Lace event 2005)

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Our Personal Thought on Ethics
We are a small hands-on company that does the design and fabrication personally here in the USA. We've always focuses on quality over profit. Our reputation is far too important to let it fall to a greater production volume.

The next statement is a simple concept that is un-debatable (we dare anyone to try), which doesn't require a subscription to any particular dogma. It is simply logic.  These are words we strive to live by.  Why is this not being taught in our Schools, let alone a strong philosophy in the business world? Planned obsolescence should be a crime, yet it's a standard in most industry through out the world. What a sad state of affairs.

Quote: If we are not honorable with those of our association; be it business and or personal, we have no right to even hope for any better from others, let alone expect it. We each need to strive to create the world we hope to live in, regardless of what we may get in return as an absolute rule.

I imagine you or anyone you'll ever meet cannot honestly say "I don't mind living in a world of lies and deceit", so the least we can do is not add to that muck from our words and actions.

We also need to accept how others have just as much right to live and prosper as we do; unconditionally! They should not be robbed through our selfishness. Beside unjustified WAR, this is manifested in many more ways than you could possibly imagine; in how we conduct our daily life and purchases. Please take some time to research 'Fair Trade'.

I wish Ethical Responsibility were not such a rare quality in our modern business world, but wishing and waiting on the side lines is not going to change it. The best I can do is set a good example in every aspect of what I do to show it is possible to still make a modest living while running an ethical business. My ideals are not because I was raised a Mormon in Utah. I have not found the LDS share my passion for ethics, let alone implement it in their actions beyond their pretenses, or else it would have impacted the business world a great deal more than it has through competition.

I can only hope to inspire others to seek out opportunities for good karma to enhance their lives and character through helping to enhance other people's lives in their chosen field of work with compassion and care. Every aspect of all we do should be approached as an art-form with intension.

We can try to teach others how to live and love, but until they own it and it becomes a part of them, it will just be a pretty string of words with little real meaning. The best we can hope to do is set a good example, and maybe those around you will eventually gleam some wisdom from that. You can not force it on others. We need to be very patient, as they still need to grok it in their own time-line.

author: David Rich

Read much more of our thoughts on 'Ethical Responsibility'. 

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David & Tia Rich
owners & fabricators
(Vampire's Ball June 2006)

 
Note: We hope that we can be mutually beneficial, but if not there is still a lot of helpful information here on these web pages on dozens of different topics.  If you find the information here very helpful, but you are not in need of our services, it would be kind of you to show your appreciation for the generous advice we spent thousands of hours to provide here for your benefit.  Perhaps like you would tip a waiter.  Maybe this information is worth enough for you to send us a nice gift certificate of a dinner for two at a restaurant local to the Portland Oregon area?  A favorite of ours is Newport Bay, but even something at Burger King would be nice.  Don't feel too bad if you are not feeling that generous, as we have rarely had someone actually send us a gift. I'm just providing an opportunity for you to benefit from good karma ;)

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Below is a photo of our Better Business Bureau's NW Business Integrity Award we earned for the year 1998

1999 Better Business Award

We were also a 1997 finalist for this same award. See our referral web page to see how we managed to be honored with this special award

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"Quality and service is not expensive,
it's priceless!"

 

David & Tia Rich
dba: Copper-By-Design
S. W. Portland, Oregon

A fan made video of our photos from our portfolio

Chimney
Caps
Gazebo & Turret
Roof Caps
Custom
Work
Gutter &
Downspouts
Shipping
Parts & Info
Contact &
Ordering Info

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Some profound one-liners:
(I do not mean to get political here, but these days it is just too hard to ignore.
I am not the author of these, but did add my own comments in purple)

Let's Fix Democracy in This Country First!
(We are actually suppose to be a Republic, not a Democracy. Big difference)

You Can't Be Pro-War And Pro-Life At The Same Time!
(This statement does not say which ethical moral you should subscribe to. It is just to point out a contradiction. Although I do find it quite odd people are willing to fight and die for liberty when that is clearly not the purpose of life here on Earth. We are here for the limitations of living as linear creatures, limited mobility, limited communication by translating a thought or memory into a string of words hoping your definition is at least similar, and the limitations of our mortality)

Who Would Jesus Torture? Which God Do You Kill For?

No, Seriously, Why Did We Invade?

Rich Man's War, Poor Man's Blood. Is It Vietnam Yet?

Bush Didn't Care About Most White People Either.

When Bush Took Office, Gas Was Less Than $1.50 a Gallon
(
which was too high)

Patriotism is not Blind Loyalty to Our Current Leadership

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Top 14 corporations w/documented human rights violations

 

 

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