Posts Tagged ‘repairs’

First off, a note on the plural of the word roof. My first thought was rooves but according to the OED, the standard plural in both British and US English is roofs. So roofs it is. (Rooves is still in use and not officially incorrect, though. So that’s my fact of the day.)

So, it’s a little hard to tell, but after a long wait, two large bills, and a lot of drama, we have a new roof! And it came in two stages.

Stage One: Replacing the main shingle roof

After our paint job, this was the primary large maintenance expense we had tried to plan for. As you can see below, this is nice fresh paint (and I still love the colors) but the shingles were unfortunately starting to buckle and come apart a bit as they were a few years past their prime. When we had the house inspected before purchase in 2008, the shingles had been given a 3-5 year remaining lifespan. We pushed that all the way out until the fall of 2015, but it was definitely time. During a big rain, we had to strategically position a bucket in the back bathroom and one in the back storage room, and one wall near a bad join (which I’ll get to later) would suddenly develop random drips coming down the wall. It was especially bad near one chimney, where any really heavy rain had a way of dripping down through the edge of the attic and into one of our closets. Not great.



So, after much handwringing and saving up, we got 3 estimates and went with a reputable local roofer our home inspector had recommended. He was less expensive because he only does regular shingle roofing, not metal or thermoplastic polyolefin (membrane) roofing, and is a small business owner. He did a great job and was really nice to work with. He even built us a “cricket” which is one of these:

No more chimney drips! That raised bit where the roof meets the base of the chimney is the cricket. It basically splits the water draining down the roof surface rather than letting it pool near the side of the chimney, which had been the case before. So far it seems to be doing its job, so hooray for crickets.

So smooth and shingley.

He also installed a ridge vent, which helps keep air circulating in the attic and theoretically helps your shingles last longer because they don’t get quite as hot for quite as long.

Our shingle color / brand was Tamko Olde English Pewter – we picked it because it was a light grey that seemed to fit in with the old houses in our neighborhood. Obviously it’s still a modern asphalt shingle but the lighter color seemed to read well against the older roofs around us, some of which are silver-toned metal roofing or old slate – they’re all shades of grey.


Stage Two: Replacing the weird back-of-the-house low-slope roof

So the larger, main part of the house had a lovely new waterproof hat on and all seemed well, except for one minor (major) thing: the back of the house had an extension put on it in the 1980s. You can kind of see it in the upper left corner here:



We really appreciate this extension because it gives us an extra bathroom upstairs, and lets a lot of light in as well in a part of the house that is north facing and could be really dark. But the low-slope on this roof (it had once been a back porch, we think) means that it’s not a good candidate for shingle roofing. There was some rubber membrane roof up there as well, but it was getting old and starting to leak, the join between the rubber roofing and the shingles was especially bad and letting a lot of water in. Here’s the join:


And here it is from another angle, in process (you can see the ridge vent at the top): Untitled

Basically, from what we understand, this sort of flattish roof should probably not have been done with shingles in the first place due to the angle. But it was:


And because of the flat angle (low slope) of the roof, rain could find its way in to this space. Although the shingles were not super old or in terrible shape, the leaks were finding their way in and that was not fine.

So after another round of estimates only two companies even offered to DO the work since it was so finicky. The answer to our problems (knock on wood) is TPO roofing: thermoplastic polyolefin. It’s a thick plastic membrane roof that is heat sealed and lasts well on low-slope surfaces. Here’s a link about it! It was finally finished yesterday and a new skylight was put in the upstairs bathroom. I don’t have any “after” pics of the plastic yet, but it looks like it does in the link above. We’ve had a ton of rain this week and so far so good.

As the last worker (the skylight guy) was leaving he said “You should be all set for MANY years up there!” and I am definitely hoping he’s right.



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One great moment I almost forgot about from the house painting process:

The side supports for our front steps had been coming apart for years and were in pretty terrible shape:

ImageThis was not the great moment.

Eventually, of course, we’d love to redo the front steps in a beautiful way, and also redo the sloping path to the sidewalk to match. I have a Pinterest board full of inspiration ideas like this one for that project, but unfortunately ours was a budget of realism already stretched, rather than Pinterest dreams.

So, since this poor beat-up little side support and its twin are actually not at all load-bearing or important to the house’s structure, we were thrilled when our painter offered to just clear out the rotted bits, frame up a little piece of wood inside, and patch it all back together so at least things looked whole again.


Aside from the dead February landscaping, much better I think! Thank you, enterprising painter!

But the great discovery was what he pulled out when he was rebuilding it: a piece of the original trim boards, painted a vivid emerald green!


We even joked about its similarity of the Pantone 2013 color of the year, Emerald.

It’s fun to imagine what this house must have looked like, long ago, before the stucco, with its pea green siding (discovered during the chimney rebuild in 2008) and this emerald green trim. Maybe something like this? Oh for a crystal ball.

Other house colors we discovered along the way were mostly in the white-cream-tan-yellow-orange family one would traditionally expect with stucco around here. Here are a few shots we got along the way:

Trim colors through the years:


House body colors (on top of the stucco – the green was all under it) through the years:


And just as a reminder, here’s what it all looked like before and after our most recent paint job.

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Since we like to travel in the summer, and are on a definite budget this year due to my lack of employment, we decided to roadtrip out to Kansas to visit friends and attend my friend’s wedding — we stopped several places along the way going there but by the time it was time to come home we wanted to do just that — get home. Fast. So we drove — actually, my husband drove — sixteen solid hours, from 10am CST to 3am EST. Glad to be alive, we rolled into the driveway, loaded up with our most necessary luggage for the night, and got to the front porch where….

This doorknob decided to lock itself forever and ever and never let us in with any amount of key-turning, sighing, pleading, shoving, pulling, or stomping around the porch.

We live in a very quiet neighborhood, and it was well after three a.m., so there was no one to report our “suspicious” activity trying to get back into our own house. There could be many reasons. We just went around to the back. This morning we called our realtor for a locksmith recommendation, called them, and they had a guy out by 3pm. He spent about 45 minutes taking out lock apart and putting it back together — an interior screw had come loose over what he thinks is about sixty years of continuous use, so he had to screw it back in and put it all back together again. No parts, no replacement. 🙂 I asked him if a newer lock would be safer and he said this was a very good one, just to keep it how it is. Yay.

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Most interesting to me: proximity of blackened brick to old timber framing!! (Eep.)

The rather eerie sight of our fireplace with no chimney outside!

Also, apparently, our house used to be covered with pea-green wooden siding:

It’s under a layer of metal mesh, which is under a layer of stucco, which is under at least two layers of paint.

But now we know!

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Click any photo to enlarge:

This was the view as we left for work this morning
— one workman up so very high on scaffolding!

The view this afternoon – so much chimney gone!

Further back

Where it hits the roofline

Lots of bricks in the driveway

The complete picture, end of day one

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Last week (in accordance with our sales contract from October), people hired by our seller removed the sickly magnolia tree that was trying to grow very very close to our chimney – and had been for at least 20 years, judging from the rings. I don’t like to see a tree go, but that one was not placed well and its roots were (reportedly) part of our chimney problem.

The plan is for the two guys currently in our driveway (with lots of scaffolding) to dismantle the brick chimney that is leaning away from our house — it’s been “repaired” before, but from the looks of it someone just filled more bricks into the gap between the chimney and the house.

This time they’re taking it down and rebuilding it.

I hope they’re good at their jobs and that they don’t accidentally (or intentionally, for that matter) drop bricks on or into our air conditioner units which are quite close to the base of the chimney. I hope this goes okay.

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I have discovered the joy that is paintable caulk. Here is a page that has pictures of its manifold glories.

We have a lot of beautiful old woodwork in our house (like 3 and 4 inch moldings around the windows and door frames, which are the joy of my heart) and some of it is up against old plaster walls which have little variations in thickness, etc as the house has settled over 98 years. This leads to little gaps (wavering between 0mm and 2mm I would say) between the molding (joy of heart) and the walls they’re mounted on.

BUT PAINTABLE CAULK YOU GUYS! It even comes in a squirt can like Easy Cheese! And it’s cheap!

You squirt a line across the crack where the molding meets the wall, and then you go over that line with this ingenius little round-tipped flexible caulk-spreader tool ($2) and it makes it look like the molding and the wall have always been living together in perfect harmony. Angels sing.

And if you hate it you can get a pointy object and peel it all off afterward. Which is totally great.

The end.

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