Just another rambling fool at WordPress.com

Gimme Shelter

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About thirteen years ago we had a new roof put on our house. It turned out to be a good lesson in what NOT to do when you hire someone to do an important job. Let’s just say that shortly after the colossal mess was completed it became apparent something was not quite right. Now that alone is telling because my roof knowledge is limited to thinking a certain roof is pretty …. or not. Oh, and I know it’s not good if a roof leaks, but I’m guessing that’s kinda obvious to any moron.

A few months after the roof was finished I tactfully mentioned to my husband that I thought some of the shingles were, um, not laying flat. Yes, that was the technical term I used. Given my spouse leaves the house every morning before dark and generally comes home after sunset, he had to wait until the weekend to see what I was talking about. In the meantime, he assured me everything was fine. However, being the pessimist I am I had my doubts. The next Saturday afternoon we stood in the front yard and gazed up at the roof. Yes, it seemed that a few shingles were indeed standing out a bit more than the others, but once again my husband assured me that everything was fine. “They’ll lay down flat when they’ve heated up a bit from the sun.” Huh? Call me crazy, but hadn’t they had plenty of opportunity to heat up over the last six weeks? Hm.

My first mistake was letting  my husband choose our roofer without one iota of input from me. That’s not to say I know squat about hiring a roofer or redoing a roof, but I should have been consulted about the choice. Why? Because I think my gut instinct about people is better tuned than his. Had I met this guy before the job commenced I would have questioned hiring him. The man was a  slob and he made no attempt to hide that fact. Not trying to be judgmental here, but contractors who don’t give a rip about how they look make me wonder how much they care about how their work looks. In the end, this proved to be 100% correct, but I’m getting ahead of myself. Essentially, I let my husband hire someone that a friend recommended. Normally that’s fine, but he didn’t do any research or ask for any references beyond knowing that his friend’s boss had used this guy to do some “odd jobs” around his shop. Oh, and we were told the man was a bit “down and out” and really needed the work. Have I mentioned that my husband is a sucker for a charity case? He is. And that’s a good thing …. usually.

The second tip that all was not going according to plan was that the roofer didn’t consult us about the kind of shingles he was going to use. Wait. I take that back. He might have told my husband, but if he did then I guess he just assumed my husband would tell me. Oh please! (Roll eyes here.) Unbeknown to me then, this was right around the time when architectural shingles were starting to become the shingle of first choice for new roofs. And it wasn’t just about looks; another important feature of this newer style of shingle is that they contain properties that help resist mold stains. But I wasn’t aware of that then, and so the decision about what type of shingle to use was made for us by the roofer.

I’m also pretty sure the roofer gave my husband his opinion about the color of shingle to use. Now the roof we were replacing was black, which in the winter heats up and helps reduce ice buildup. But black isn’t that great during the summer months because it’s a heat magnet. Had I been consulted I probably would have chosen black. Why? Because the total amount of time we have unbearable heat in any given year is significantly less than the number of months we’re damp and cold. So how the men arrived at the decision to use white (or light gray) is completely beyond me. Did they toss a coin? Draw straws? Who knows, but we wound up with flat white shingles, the aesthetics of which can be seen in the photo above. (The red mold stains on the front roof show up every time it gets damp and humid.)

My next error after the fact was letting myself think my husband knew more about roofs than I do. Why? Because he’s a man, damnit! Don’t all men know everything there is to know about building and carpentry and manly things like that? Of course not. So when I had my suspicions that something might be wrong with the roof I should have insisted we get the roofer back and have him correct the problem PDQ. Instead, I let myself be lulled into a false sense of security because my husband said everything would be just fine. It wasn’t. Unfortunately, about the same time we realized we should probably get the roofer back and reevaluate the job, he vanished. So nothing was ever done. Funny how you can forget about your roof until something goes wrong!

Last winter was the tipping point. We got 27 inches of snow on Jan 9th and the snow kept coming all winter. At the first hint of a mid-winter thaw our roof started leaking. Not the grab-a-pot-and-catch-the-drips kind of leak, but water was dripping out of the ceiling light fixtures in my newly renovated kitchen and dribbling down the all the front walls of the house. I couldn’t do anything but hyperventilate, pull everything away from the walls and curse. I did a lot of swearing. My husband got up on the roof and (like everyone else) shoveled some 3+ feet of snow off the front of the house. We hired our neighbor’s sons to shovel the barn roof, but every time the outside temp rose we got a bit more leaking in the house. We filed an insurance claim, but we knew we’d have to tear off our roof and fix the problem or risk suffering the same fate again.

This time around I had a lot more input on the project. I met with all the contractors, got references and did background checks to make sure the person we wanted to hire was not a flake. We also chose someone local because if we have problems again I’ll personally hunt him down and kill him. OK, not really …  but there’s something to be said for hiring someone who lives in your local community.

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They were very organized and clean. It doesn’t look like it here, but when they were done there was hardly a scrap or nail on the ground. I was very impressed with that since the previous roofer left such a mess that I was picking up nails and scraps for two years after he was done.

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Hard to show in this shot, but it was COLD. Mornings it was in the upper 30’s then warmed up to maybe all of 50, tops?  I was amazed that the optimist in the group wore shorts every day! Unfortunately, I can probably identify all of the roofers now just by their butt cracks.

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Ta-da! The end result! I’m doing a happy dance! Now if I could just get my husband to finish the power-washing project …..

3 responses

  1. Very nice transformation. So sorry you had so many troubles in the beginning. You have a nice looking house.

    December 15, 2011 at 11:31 AM

  2. Thanks! Years ago when we bought our place the last thing we liked about it was the house. It’s nothing special. But we loved the land and the fact that it was remote. We thought it would always stay that way forever, which unfortunately, it hasn’t. We’re finally getting around to doing some very needed renovation on the house … twenty-five years later! As you know, when you have animals and/or children they always seem to come first!

    December 16, 2011 at 8:47 AM

  3. Mumsy

    Wow!! Sorry about all the leaking that must have been a real mess. The new roof looks so nice, matches the color on your home very well and looks as if it was a job well done and will last you many years. Hugs

    December 16, 2011 at 12:58 PM

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