Builders in New England have a joke: Don’t like the weather? Wait 30 minutes and it will change.

Seriously, the building industry has its challenges, and I believe the biggest and most common challenge for remodelers, custom builders and spec builders alike is getting a weathertight shell. I can’t remember how or when we started using ZIP System® sheathing and tape, but I do know that because of its weatherproof durability and time-saving application, I never looked back once we did.

Here’s why: Back when we used to “pop” the top off single-story Cape-style homes to create a two-story Colonial, it’d be a mad race to demo the roof system and frame wall and then install a weathertight shell. To add to the challenge, 85% of the time the first level of these homes still contained all the client’s belongings and even the clients themselves.


We would watch the weather like a hawk, waiting to pull the roof off the home until we had a five- to eight-day window of clear weather. But, of course, this never stopped Mother Nature from splashing a rain shower on us at 7 p.m. on a Friday. If we didn’t wait for a clear weather window, we risked water damage to the client’s goods. If we waited for the window, we risked holding the budget for the job. But financially, we couldn’t just wait a month for clear weather — no budget or cash flow system would allow it.

What if we could complete the process faster? What if we could finish on Thursday, a full 24 hours sooner than that surprise rain shower, eliminate the potential damage to the client’s property and, more important for us, limit the potential damage to our reputation? ZIP System sheathing and tape gave us the ability to hack the system that was forever our norm.

For the general contractor whose crew completes the demo, frame, trim, roofing and window set, ZIP System roof sheathing creates a weathertight roof in one process. This has two benefits: First, instead of pulling a $180 tarp over the roof for the evening and pulling it off in the next morning, you get to move right to window set. This is a huge time-saver.

Second, you’re not rushing. You’re setting windows while another crew member tapes and rolls the roof. Then, the next morning, you are comfortably completing the roofing. In the end, the client and their neighbors are amazed by how quickly it came together, and you don’t have to worry about callbacks. Rather than chasing leaks through a tarp on a Friday night, trying to reassure the client it’s normal, and then using excess manpower to fix it, you’re completing the job faster and with fewer issues. That’s the goal. It’s a no-brainer.

Today, we’ve moved on from remodeling the Cape-style homes to building custom homes. However, the initial philosophy is the same. Water is still the devil in construction, but it’s in different details now. We still need a weathertight shell as soon as possible, and we still use ZIP System sheathing and tape to achieve it.

This post was contributed by Massachusetts builder John Hourihan. To view the full story and see John’s typical install schedule for a quick rough dry-in, visit

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