MEDIA RELEASE: Storm Trouper

Revelling in the upside of downpipes helps this roofer tackle tricky jobs
Written By: Julia Richardson

ON MORE than one occasion, guttering specialist Matt Slick has arrived at a site to quote on a job and been given a friendly warning by his fellow tradesmen. “Be careful how you quote” they’ve said, telling tales of other contractors who had deliberately priced themselves out of what they judged to be a problematic job. “There are some people out there who are happy do the same old boring thing day in and day out” he says. “I love the challenge.”

Slick’s attraction to tough projects, and his ability to see them through, has won him the loyalty of some of the more adventurous builders and designers around Sydney. It has also won his company a gong: the 2007 Excellence in Metal Roofing Award from the Metal Roofings and Cladding Association of Australia. “It’s very rewarding,” he says of the sense of accomplishment he and his team feel on completing a challenging job. “You look back and you say, ‘Well, no one else wanted to do it but we did it and we did a good job.’ “

Following in his father’s footsteps, Slick undertook an apprenticeship straight after school. He worked as a plumber for a couple of years but then decided he “didn’t want to dig holes anymore”. Instead he chose to speacilise in that other aspect of the plumbing trade: laying metal roofs and installing gutters and downpipes. “A good gutter is going to carry water away and channel it either into rainwater tanks or into the stormwater.” To do that, he says, it has to be the right size and the right material, and it has to be installed at a suitable angle. Size is largely determined by the area of roof surface and the amount of rain likely to fall on it. Material depends on the roof’s location and the kind of conditions it will have to weather. Judgements regarding the correct fall for a gutter, on the other hand, are less absolute. “You can’t have a gutter that’s got so much fall in it that you can see it sloping,” Slick says. “You’ve got to find a balance between getting the right fall and not letting it be noticeable to the eye. It should look uniform to the fascia.”

In the 15 or so years he has been in business, Slick has witnessed many changes. In recent years the common quad gutter has been matched in popularity by the half-round gutter. The half-round product tends to have a higher flow rate which means that a complete installation may require fewer downpipes. He has also seen the rise of the leaf guard, a fitting that he views with equivocation. “There are very few on the market that are 100 per cent leaf-free,” he says, explaining that while the mesh-style product may be low maintenance, most of the slatted models need to be cleared of trapped leaves once or twice a year.

But perhaps the biggest change has been the shift towards domestic rain-water tanks. Slick says every new building he works on incorporates a tank and at least 90 per cent of his clients who are now renovating also talk about installing one. Pricing a job is a complicated matter, he says. Slick does, after all, base his reputation on tackling the trickiest of projects and every cut, corner and angle of the roof has an impact on price. “I take pride in my work,” he says. “I like the job satisfaction. I like being able to build something and look back at it and be proud of what I’ve done.”

“Basically, I like being able to look back on something and say, ‘I did that.’”