Q: I'm building an addition to an early 1930s one-story home with a hip roof. The existing house has a metal-tile roof with a stamped pattern. I'd like to match the new roof to the old one, but I can't find a source anywhere. What does This Old House do in a situation like this?
—Neal, Charleston, W. Va.
A: This Old House replies: Locating a source of materials to match what's already on an old house is a real detective job; it's time consuming and sometimes frustrating. But it's been our experience at This Old House that, more often than not, we find what we're looking for. Your search will be tricky because basic building materials, particularly those on the exterior of a house, are often regional specialties, and they're not likely to end up in architectural salvage lots. So, like any good gumshoe, first make sure you have a sample or a good closeup photo of what you're looking for. Then show it to every every old roofer, every hardware store, and every building-material supplier you can find. Check with local or regional preservation agencies. Post a photo on an Internet discussion board devoted to house restoration. Look under one of the roofing tiles for identifying names or markings—and launch a Web search. Get in touch with an industry group like the Metal Roofing Alliance or the National Roofing Contractors Association; they may be able to put you in touch with an expert who will know exactly who made the tiles on your roof and whether they are still being made. When we can't find a matching material no matter how hard we look, we sometimes find a craftsman or manufacturer who can make new pieces to match the old. Custom runs are expensive, but they can be a cost-effective alternative to complete replacement of the old material. Good luck, and enjoy your search. You're bound to meet a lot of interesting people along the way.