The impossible dream

Keystone Roofing installs a copper roof system on a private estate

San Diego's Hillcrest neighborhood is one of the city's oldest communities and known for its historic architecture. In October 2008, Keystone Roofing Inc., Oceanside, Calif., was contacted by a homeowner in Hillcrest; the owner wanted a copper roof system installed on her home that replicated the building's curved wood framing, which has a corkscrew shape similar to a conch shell.

"The owner had called some of the best metal craftsmen in southern California only to be frustrated with their approaches and the configurations and samples they provided," says Mark Katona, Keystone Roofing's president. "By the time she was recommended to Keystone Roofing by the framing contractor, she felt no one could make her dream a reality."

Keystone Roofing offered to fabricate and install all the roof system's copper elements, including panels, flashings, counterflashings and soffits, as well as a skylight.

"I made a deal with her: Don't sign a contract or give me a dime until she loved what she saw, and if we didn't completely thrill her, she would never have to pay for the work," Katona says. "She agreed to my offer, and we began work on one of the most complex roofing projects of my career."